As much as I love going to my local farmers market, I haven't been there the past two weeks. Sometimes I have other things to do during the four hours that it's open each week. Amazon recognizes an opportunity when it sees one, so it's started the Farmers Market Direct program. It's testing the program in Southern California, with plans to expand if it goes well.

This is how it works, according to the Farmers Market Direct FAQ page:

  • Customers order a large or small produce bundle, either all fruit, all vegetable, or a combination of both.
  • A personal shopper goes to the farmers market, chooses ripe produces, bags it up, and put the market's name on the bag.
  • The day before delivery, the customer will receive an email giving a three-hour delivery window. If no one answers the door, the order will be left on the doorstep.

How much does it cost? A large bundle is $59 and a small one is $39, delivery included, according to The Los Angeles Times. Individual orders are also available, with a small increase in price for items and a delivery fee for anything under $50.

The idea for the program came from Tony Lee, a former e-commerce techie who left his job to manage a farmers market in Connecticut. When he found that many of the vendors weren't making enough money to stay open because of the limited hours of the market, he went to Amazon with his idea. His aim is not to take business away from the farmers but to bring them extra business.

“Making fresh local food more available to more people on the one hand and on the other bringing more business to these small farmers and food producers — that’s our mission,” he says. “We want to get millions of people eating fresh local food and having access to it every day.”

Because the program puts money in farmers' pockets and doesn't undersell them, I might give Farmers Market Direct a try if it becomes available in my area. I think the extra charge for the individual order would be worth it, to make sure that nothing got wasted.

Would you try this service?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.