HARRISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — At Hollow Oak Farm in Berry, the average work day involves a little dirt, a few seedlings, and lots of hard work for farmer Julie Muth. She spends her days planting vegetables like broccoli, lettuce, and carrots — all sustainably grown without chemicals.
“I would shop at our local grocery store and there weren't a lot of organic options,” Muth told LEX 18. “So I started growing it myself.”
Her journey to full-time farming began a few years ago, when she quit her job as an interior designer. Burnt out from the constant commute to Lexington, she wanted a gig that kept her closer to home in Harrison County.
“At the same time, my husband and I were wanting to eat healthier, so we dug into where our food comes from,” she said. “I noticed how fragile our food system was and this was even pre-Covid.”
Three years later, Muth is doing her part to make the food system more sustainable. She raises chickens and cows and even taps trees for maple syrup in the winter.
Meanwhile, as prices rise at the grocery store, many people might be turning to locally-grown food instead. But that can be tough in the off-season when farmers’ markets are often closed.
But there’s a possible solution for both shoppers and farmers like Muth.
While she waits for in-person farmers' markets to open back up this spring, Muth is using a service called Market Wagon.
Think of it as an online farmers’ market. The company currently delivers products from 56 vendors directly to homes in 14 counties across central Kentucky. There is one flat delivery free of $6.95, and the company drops off products directly at consumers’ front doors.
Market Wagon CEO Nick Carter says e-commerce is the future of grocery shopping.
“It’s how people are going to be buying food in the next generation, and we wanted to make sure local producers weren't left behind in that,” he said. “What we bring to any farmer wanting to tap into the market is an audience base who's highly engaged and wants to know where their dollars are being spent.”
He also says there are benefits for both shoppers and farmers.
In Muth’s case, she’s able to reach a larger customer base, including people who live in the Cincinnati area. Plus, she’s able to determine how much product she actually needs, instead of guessing what customers will buy on any given day.
And with the help of new services like Market Wagon, she hopes shopping local is a trend that continues to take root in the Bluegrass.
“Once people saw that crack in the food system, they were forced to find food and buy from their local farmer,” she said.