Palestine Farmers Market recently introduced a new retail concept to help producers sell their goods directly and more efficiently to local customers. The Palestine TX Farmers Market REKO Cooperative Facebook group offers a virtual marketplace that improves the sales process for producers and consumers.
REKO is an acronym for the Swedish words rejäl konsumtion, which translates as real consumption or fair consumption. REKO Rings started in Finland in 2013 to allow farmers to post information about sale items. The groups gained popularity because people can order exactly what they want, pay in advance and arrange to pick up purchases at an arranged time.
Palestine producers sell directly to consumers in the Facebook group. Ordering opens each Wednesday morning and closes Sunday afternoon. When the vendor sees the order they comment back with the customer’s total. Each producer arranges their own payment options.
There are no extra fees for pick-up, which occurs at the Farmers Market 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
Shoppers can request to join Palestine’s private group on Facebook after answering two screening questions. The first asks where participants live to ensure they can pick up purchases at the arranged time. The second question asks if the participant is a producer, consumer or both.
Farmers Market Manager April Shaner said the REKO Ring offers benefits for producers and consumers.
“Consumers still have a face to face interaction with the farmer but they don’t have to worry about getting up early on a Saturday and the farmers don’t have to worry about whether they’re going to sell everything at a market,” Shaner said. “It benefits both the shopper and the producer and offers another option.”
The REKO Facebook group currently features items from Palestine Texas Pecans, KT Beef, Blackflower Farms, Regen Ranch, Jenny's Farmhouse Bakery and GF Donuts and Bakery. Shaner hopes to attract more producers and consumers to become active members of the REKO Ring to ensure its success.
Roughly 100 members are participating now but more established groups include thousands. REKO groups are catching on in the East Texas area in Tyler, Jacksonville and Bullard.
The need for the REKO Ring in Palestine arose because farmers and consumers need a time to trade besides the Saturday times of 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Designating just one hour for produce pick up also reduces the time producers invest in selling their products.
“One of the biggest downsides of the weekly market is that not everyone can make it out on Saturdays, for whatever reason,” Shaner said. “The weekends tend to be peoples’ sacred time when they get all their chores and family time in, so it’s not always the most convenient.”