Vashon Fresh, an online marketplace for locally grown and produced foods, is in its second season, with new vendors and options for customers this year.
The program provides islanders with the opportunity to buy fresh local food online and pick it up or have it delivered to their homes or workplaces. A program of the Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA), Vashon Fresh now offers more 35 than vendors, free delivery with orders over $15 and at least one chance for islanders to try out an e-bike for free if they participate in an upcoming special delivery event. The program is intended to expand the reach of growers and producers by making their products available to more people, beyond those who attend the Farmers Market and go to farm stands.
“Our goal is to support the agricultural economy on Vashon,” said Heidi HansPetersen, the program’s manager.
To order from Vashon Fresh, islanders should go to the website — vashonfresh.com — and choose from the list of products: flowers, vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat, prepared foods, coffee and tea, tinctures, spices and more. The order deadline is noon Tuesdays for pickup or delivery on Wednesdays. Home/business delivery runs from 2 to 6 p.m., and pick-up at the Village Green is from 4 to 6 p.m.
On Wednesday, Aug. 1, Vashon Fresh will partner with Vashon E-Bikes for a green delivery day. People can sign up to help with deliveries then by contacting HansPetersen through the Vashon Fresh website or at the Vashon E-bike booth at the Strawberry Festival. If the delivery day goes well, the opportunity will likely be offered again in September.
Ten new producers joined the Vashon Fresh program this year, HansPetersen said, and more are welcome, including those who have large gardens, not just farms. All participants must join VIGA, however, if they are not already members. Other islanders in the food business are also welcome. Indeed, a variety of businesses are part of the program, from Pink Tractor Farm to Seattle Canning Company to Sena Sea Wild Alaskan Fish.
Last year, Vashon Fresh launched as a pilot program with a $41,000 grant from the King County Conservation District. Those involved wanted to see if people would shop online for local food — and they did. Last year’s goal, HansPetersen said, was to sell $10,000 worth of Vashon products. They exceeded that goal by $4,000.
This year, Vashon Fresh is supported by a $15,000 grant from The Bullitt Foundation, and has set its goal higher: to sell $26,000 worth of Vashon produce and food products. HansPetersen said they are on target to meet that goal. There are plans next year to serve restaurants, enabling chefs to order local food online through wholesale opportunities.
HansPetersen stressed that Vashon Fresh does not compete with VIGA and island farmers; just the opposite, it is intended to offer another option for growers, producers and consumers, providing increased opportunities to buy locally and help island agriculture thrive.
“Part of what keeps Vashon rural and fabulous is farms,” she said.