Order pickup this last week went the smoothest they have in quite a while, apart from problems with the live plants. We brought in quite a few more volunteers to help each and made some other organization improvements to get us off to a good start. Y’all managed to spread yourselves out perfectly, and we never fell behind through out the entire evening. So, we’re going to try to do all that again.
Places around the state are beginning to open back up, but there’s no way we’ll be going back to the old way of doing things, at least not for a while. Our time at the Y is limited because they’ll be slowly opening back up in the next few weeks, but we’ll be there at least two weeks longer. Where we’ll be after that is anyone’s guess, but I’ve started looking around for somewhere in town that can provide all of what we need: space inside to organize (right now it’s holding about sixty sets of shelves and a dozen giant coolers), a covered spot outside to let us set up in rainy weather, and a parking lot or pull-through area that is big enough to handle all of you coming through. It’s a challenging task.
We pulled in almost everyone we know to help us organize orders last week. If you’d like to add your name to the list, please let me know! It’s five hours of hard work right now, but everyone does get a food credit.
I know a number of you had issues with not getting everything you ordered last week, and we had a hard time telling you what it was you did and didn’t get, particularly with seedlings. There’s a little-known feature of the website that can help you with that! If you go to the Your Account page and scroll about half-way down, you’ll see a link for “Your Oder History”. There, you can see every order you’ve ever placed with us. Clicking on one will display a condensed version of the order, but there’s also a link for “View a PDF Invoice”. That has an extremely detailed look into your order, showing line by line what you ordered, whether we believe you received it or not, and if not, a line assuring you that you did not get charged for it. If the growers removed any items before Thursday at 2pm, notes to that effect are added to the order comments. When we close the orders Thursday night, the invoice will show your payment method and then your cards get charged (if that’s how you chose to pay). An aside: even though you may have tied your order to a credit or debit card, I do not process those cards until the very end of the night on Thursday, after we know what you did and didn’t get. You are never charged ahead of time.
Here are some things that y’all did last week that worked wonderfully, and we’d like you to do them again:
- Don’t arrive at the beginning of your pickup window if you’ve got that flexibility. Last week we had record sales, as I mentioned, and about a third of you showed up right at 5pm. That swamped us, and we really didn’t recover until almost seven. The time you arrive has no bearing on what items you get, so take your time getting there and that’ll naturally spread things out a bit. Flatten the curve, if you will.
- I’m bad with faces as it is, and masks make it even harder to recognize you and even hear you when you give your name. Many of you had papers with your name written in big letters we could read through the window, and that was wonderful. If you think to do that same, it’ll make things even smoother.
- The Y’s pickup loop is a little odd, and when I pick my kids up from camp there (remember camps? Those were nice.) it can be a zoo. We don’t want you backing up into Hawthorne, so if you arrive faster than we can deliver orders, we may ask you to pull ahead into look and circle around. You’ll have to merge back into the line, but I promise you we’ll get everyone as fast as you can and if someone happened to arrive after you but didn’t need to make the loop so got in the line ahead of you, that won’t cause you to get fewer items than you ordered. My ask here is to be patient with us and keep in mind we’re doing what we can to keep everyone safe from both viruses and distracted drivers speeding down Hawthorne.
- The folks at the Y have been holding an ongoing food drive for their pantry for members in need. If you have canned or packaged food you don’t need, feel free to bring it and we’ll give it to them.
Here are some general reminders of things that have changed from the before times:
- If you arrive by bike or on foot, or just want to park in the lot and get out of your car, we’ll have a place for you to walk up.
- We’ve still got three pickup windows, and it’s totally ok if you come later than the slot you chose
- We’re not accepting in-person payments unless absolutely necessary. We’ll have a drop box for checks or labelled envelopes of cash, but we greatly prefer Venmo payments to @athenslocallygrown or online payments through a card tied to your account. That last option has a 3% fee, and Venmo is free.
- We can not accept any recycling
- We cannot take your own bags or bins out of your car and fill them up
- If you’d like to go through your items before you leave to make sure you’ve got everything, or that we didn’t mix up people’s items, feel free to pull into the lot and have a look.
Finally, I didn’t want this week to go by without mentioning that we’re starting our nineteenth year in operation. When we started this market back in May 2002 and I wrote this software to keep things organized, we accidentally invented the world’s first virtual farmers market. Some of you have been with us since then, and it’s amazing how much things have changed, right? And to all of you that have joined us since, including many just this last week, I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you, all of you!
Thank you so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, all of our growers, local food, and our rights to eat it. You all are part of what makes Athens such a great area in which to live. We’ll see you on Thursday at the YMCA!