21 Acres Market 081320

Jen Horner, 21 Acres Market staff, displays fresh-from-the-farm produce for soon to be arriving customers at the market in Woodinville.

The current coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on the Woodinville retail and restaurant business. But one establishment, 21 Acres Farm Market, that buys from more than 100 sustainable farmers and producers is experiencing historic local food sales.

“Shoppers are seeking out alternatives to traditional grocery stores and rampant restaurant closures,” Farm Market Lead Caroline Ferguson said in a July 31 press release. “It’s a shift that could mark a turning point for local food and sustainable farming that works to mitigate climate change.”

The alternatives, Ferguson said, include King County farms, mills, and ranches that utilize time-honored techniques to improve soil health and draw carbon out of the atmosphere.

According to spokesperson Brenda Vanderloop, 21 Acres has seen sales nearly double over 2019 numbers since the COVID outbreak in March.

“Not only have total sales gone up, but customers are increasingly buying a large portion of their weekly groceries locally, instead of just specialty items,” Vanderloop said. “The average transaction size has increased by 74% compared to 2019, with a record sales day set on July 3rd.”

Vanderloop said a recent survey of 21 Acres Farm Market customers showed that over 60% of respondents said they learned new cooking skills, from sourdough to cheesemaking to canning, since Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order went into effect.

“The coronavirus has made many customers see the importance of food that was grown close to home,” Ferguson said. “People seem to be valuing a shorter supply chain from farm to table and are making local, seasonal food work for their families.

“We’re hopeful that this sea change could benefit our local economy and the environment. Since many small local farms use climate-conscious regenerative practices, this movement could lead to crucial advances in the fight to stop and reverse climate change.”

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