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Kristin and Zach Herzberger are shown here on their family farm, The Hidden Acres.

MANSFIELD -- Farmers markets are a key source of revenue for local entrepreneurs -- from farmers and florists to bakers to artisans.

But with additional safety requirements and the public more cautious about going out, Zach and Kristin Herzberger knew they needed a backup plan.

“We do farmers markets normally, we do several different ones and as the COVID stuff hit, we were getting letters from people who didn’t know if they would have them,” Kristin said.

The Herzbergers own and operate The Hidden Acres, a 33-acre family farm outside of Mansfield where they raise pastured poultry and grass-fed beef. 

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Shoppers can choose their products online and pick up their custom crate at one of three locations.

Last month, the couple teamed with other local producers and launched an online farmer’s market. Customers can select items online, then pick up their custom crate at one of three Mansfield-area locations.

“We wanted it to be consumer-driven,” Kristin said.

The marketplace includes 11 producers, whose products range from fresh meat and produce to locally grown flowers and handmade soaps.

Darlene Mast, owner of Share ‘N Dipity bakery, said she was excited when the Herzbergers asked her to be a part of the co-op.

“The quality of vendors that (Kristin) had chosen was great, so I was honored that she put me in,” Mast said. “It was an opportunity for me to be able to get our products out there on one more avenue.”

Mast added the co-op model can be an innovative and convenient option for shoppers, herself included.

“It gives me the opportunity to get good products and fresh products and support local,” she said.

Emily Spiers, who owns the family business Live.Simple.Soap, said she hopes the pandemic will make people reconsider where they do their shopping.

“I think that one of the things that has come out of this COVID-19 situation is this idea of localism,” she said. 

“We’ve come to understand where our items come from. And being able to support your neighbor, the farm down the road or a small business that puts funds in your community -- I think it started to click with people that that has value,” she added. “There are lots of communities out there that have everything you need, you just have to look for it.”

Orders can be placed on The Hidden Acres' website. They must be placed by Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and can be picked up Thursdays between 3 and 6 p.m. 

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