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New farmers' market opens for business, and you don’t have to leave your house

Farmers' markets still can't reopen under Alert Level 2 but if you're a foodie hanging out for a bit of a forage, there's some good news.

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With farmers markets still not allowed under Alert Level 2, a new website has brought together dozens of artisan producers. Source: Seven Sharp

A new website has brought together dozens of artisan producers from around New Zealand, creating a busy and bustling market of the virtual kind. 

Late one night during lockdown, Melissa Woods had the idea of creating a vibrant and virtual farmers' market.

"The Modern Forager is an online platform that we developed to help connect Kiwis with either producers, growers or farmers around New Zealand," she told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

It wasn't exactly an easy sell to start with for hubby Reuben.

"When she came up with the crazy idea, the day during lockdown, I walked away, sulked and then came back and said, 'No, that's a really good idea.'" 

Being foraging fans themselves, the Woods knew many suppliers who usually sold their wares to restaurants, cafes, and local foodies and were suddenly starved of income. 

"And for a lot of those companies to get online and sell online was going to be really difficult," Mr Woods says.

Cue a wave of creativity. In two days, they'd created a solution.

The Modern Forager showcases artisan goods from the bottom of the country all the way to the top.

Like fish from the Chatham Islands, super juice from Nelson, honey from Gisborne or pies from the Bay of Plenty. 

There are fresh limes from the winterless north and free range eggs from Ramarama. 

Kennett Sinclair and Xanthe Viljoen run TRUEggs. Before Covid-19, 95 per cent of their eggs went to hospitality.

"In 48 hours that disappeared completely," Mr Sinclair says.

The honesty box at the gate was ticking over but thousands of eggs were piling up.

Then they heard about The Modern Forager.

"There's a market, a strong market there to connect the producer with the consumer," Mr Sinclair says.

And even with restaurants back on the menu, these producers will be careful not to put all their eggs in one basket again.

To list on the website is free at the moment but once the market is thriving, a virtual stall will cost around $60.

"It's terrible what's happened, but people who've seen it as an opportunity have maximised it," Mr Woods says.

"I don't think we'll go back to the way we were. I hope we don't... It's about time."