May 28, 2015
Photos by Cassie Dillman
Last Sunday, before I even crawled out of bed, I had already purchased fresh local strawberries, crisp local sugar snap peas, South Georgia grown pecans, fresh fragrant local basil, and sweet-smelling heirloom creole onions. All before my head even left the pillow. How so, you ask? Well, there’s an app for that! That’s right – you can shop for truly local goods on your computer or on-the-go from a user-friendly app developed for smart phones and tablets.
This is all possible through the Red Hills Online Market (RHO Market). There are not only fresh fruits and vegetables, but also artisan bread, creamy hand-crafted dairy and goat cheeses, grass-fed meats, a beautiful array of fresh local chicken eggs, and much more. So if you are like I am, and want the best quality ingredients North Florida and South Georgia have to offer – but just cannot quite figure out how to get moving early enough to attend any of our several local farmers’ markets on the weekends – the online market may be just what you are looking for.
Tallahassee’s RHO Market was created in 2010 by the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance (RHSFA) as a means to strengthen the small-farm community and expand the local food market to more citizens within our region. Farmer/producer members of the RHSFA within a 100-mile radius of Tallahassee may apply to sell their products through the online market. The market operates year ‘round in a weekly cycle; customers can shop online from Sunday through Tuesday and pick up on Thursday afternoons.
Farmers benefit from the reduced risk of this system since they only harvest what has been sold and don’t gamble on the weather or the turnout for the open air market. Customers benefit because their products are fresh and produce is harvested to order, often within 24 hours of the market. On Wednesday mornings the farmers receive a list of what has sold on the market and they are able to harvest exactly that. The farmers then post what they will have available for the next week by Sunday morning. This is of course when I pull out my smart phone, eager to see everything available for the week.
These local products will vary seasonally, but you can expect fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, lettuce, spinach, arugula, citrus, and carrots in the cooler months. In the warmer months you can expect tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers, berries, basil, and eggplant. Once you have made your online selection of products, simply check out with the secure online shopping cart via an encrypted credit card transaction.
The RHO Market is located in the Northwood Center near the intersection of N. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. and Tharpe St., where customers can pick up their orders on Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. For a $2 fee, which pays for the delivery driver, there are two other pick up sites: New Leaf Market, or if you are a Tallahassee Memorial Hospital employee, right at the hospital. Additional pick up sites are planned for the future. Home delivery is available for a nominal charge within Leon County, where customers can have their produce delivered directly to their doorsteps! There is a $10 annual fee to shop on the market, which helps pay for packaging supplies and other market expenses.
By shopping with the farmers and producers of the RHO Market, citizens will not only be promoting our local economy, but they also will get the chance to explore vegetable and fruit varieties more adapted to our climate that are not available in the large-scale markets. These vegetables are harvested within hours of delivery – ensuring the highest level of nutrition. When producers are able to sell locally, they can grow produce or use ingredients that do not require a long shelf-life or long-term portability. They are then able to concentrate on flavor and diversity.