John Walshe, left, and Keena Tracy pack up orders Dec. 11 at Little Ridge Farm in Lisbon for their FarmDrop orders. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LISBON — The Little Ridge FarmDrop has added half a dozen vendors since the virtual farmers’ market concept launched locally in April, expanding on the traditional vegetables, meats and dairy with everything from packs of chicken necks to chocolate-covered caramel Oreos.

“We have a solid customer base that orders every week, and order between $120 and $520 worth of product, and then we have another solid customer base that orders every other week,” site manager Keena Tracy said. “We are one of the more successful FarmDrops in the state.”

Customers place orders online and grab bags at her farm on Fridays. She’s added a second pickup site, at Vessel & Vine in Brunswick.

“It was definitely really busy those first couple months,” she said, leveling off as people got more comfortable heading back into stores. “The majority of the people say they like FarmDrop because they can buy so many products in one location. Still up there on the list is they don’t have to go to the grocery store because of COVID.”

The vendors — 20 different farms, most from the area — have also appreciated having the outlet for sales, Tracy said.

Earlier this month, New Ventures Maine awarded her farm its 2020 Western Maine Marketing Mini-grant, funds Tracy plans to use next year to expand her customer base.

Farming was challenging as ever in 2020, she said.

“Just the standard farming curve balls of mostly weather, related to the drought, for sure,” Tracy said. “It’s just a lot more work and time investment that goes in, but you don’t change the price of your product — we work more but we get paid the same.”

In the end, she was happy with crops, on the whole.

“The COVID curve ball, at the beginning, I was pretty anxious, it was super unpredictable,” she said. “It seemed as though the extra labor that we were going to have to do for protection for ourselves and customers almost seemed insurmountable. But I think that we settled into it. I haven’t lost any customers, if anything I’ve gained customers this year, so I think the safety protocol we put into place both allows my customers to feel comfortable and also has been efficient enough for our farm that we’ve been able to carry on.”

As she starts to plan out her summer crops, Tracy has had a few customers tell her they’ve been inspired to start their own gardens next year.

“Of course, they all give me the caveat: But you might see me back in 2022,” she said.

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