The coronavirus pandemic has been either a boon or a bust for local businesses.
While many restaurants and food businesses are struggling to stay afloat, some local farmers and food delivery companies have been struggling to keep up with demand.
Farmers markets have been considered a critical food access point since the shutdown started in March, adjusting how they operate to accommodate new safety measures, but those changes have come at a cost.
Texas Farmers’ Market, the non-profit that oversees the Lakeline and Mueller farmers markets, has never made a public appeal for donations, but the extra money they are spending to run a market amid a pandemic have put them in the position to do so.
"Like so many in these difficult times, Texas Farmers’ Market has been financially steamrolled by the pandemic," the organization wrote on its website. "To be frank, we are looking at a 60% decrease in our operating budget to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
The 501(c)(4) non-profit charges vendors a flat weekly booth fee, but it doesn’t take a percentage of sales, so as the number of vendors attending the markets goes down, so does TFM’s operating revenue. And this is in addition to increasing costs to provide hand sanitizer, caution tape to director customer traffic and face shields for market staff.
To help offset these losses, TFM is asking for donations and is hoping to raise $31,000 by the end of July. If you want to support the organization, go to texasfarmersmarket.org.
Deputy director Nora Chovanec also had to make the call to cancel this year’s Austin Fermentation Festival, which takes place each fall. She says they hope to host a smaller fundraiser to help raise money for the organization’s emergency farmer fund. Keep an eye on their Instagram channel for more information and to check out livestream tours of some of the farms that sell at their weekly markets.