A digital farmers' market will take place in Peeblesshire several weeks ahead of schedule.

The market, organised by social enterprise The Food Foundation, was due to open in late April.

But the project has been brought forward to April 1 so support can be given through the coronavirus pandemic.

Food Foundation trustee Robin Tatler said: "The bit we are now concentrating on is getting a good selection of local producers registered an on the market as soon as possible."

Food made or grown in the Borders will be available to order online from NeighbourFood.co.uk.

Buyers can collect from the Victoria Park Centre, Peebles, on Thursday evenings between 5pm and 7pm. Alternatively, deliveries can be made by volunteers.

The new market will complement The Food Foundation’s 'Meals on Wheels' service, which provides for anyone who is isolated, housebound or simply struggling to feed themselves during the pandemic.

The Food Foundation’s normal service, providing catering experience and online training for people with disabilities, has had to be put on hold as a result of the virus.

The Food Foundation's organisational manager Yvonne MacLaren said: “The NeighbourFood market will be a lifeline for locals as we face the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Together with our 'Meals on Wheels' service, we’ll be doing our bit to ensure local people are fed and local producers have an income.”

Meanwhile, Mr Tatler said more than 240 people in Peebles had joined the online market scheme and were ready to place their first orders.

Outlining the likely offering, he added: "There will definitely be bakery, fruit and veg, meat and dairy as these are the core but we are also hoping for locally produced soaps and other non-food products.”

Charity Forth Environment Link has been instrumental in getting the Peebles NeighbourFood off the ground, thanks to a £208,000 grant from the Scottish Government’s EU LEADER programme to set up eight new click-and-collect farmer’s markets across Scotland.

Grant funding is still available to other local organisations looking to set up a market in the Scottish Borders, following in the footsteps of The Food Foundation.

Stuart Guzinski, of Forth Environment Link, said: “We’re offering funding and support to organisations who would like to set up a second market in the Scottish Borders.

"NeighbourFood is a sustainable way to food shop, that supports local producers and cuts down food miles and food waste. In the current crisis, we need our local producers more than ever.”

It is hoped another NeighbourFood market will open in the Borders in the near future, according to the chairman of Scottish Borders Leader Action Group.

Gary White said: “We’re on the look-out for a second organisation to join NeighbourFood, helping people across the Borders region to get access to fresh produce on their doorstep and support local producers all at the same time.

"Market hosts will be given funding, training and promotional support from Forth Environment Link to set up their own NeighbourFood market.”

Anyone interested in setting up their own NeighbourFood market in the Borders should contact Stuart Guzinski: stuart@forthenvironmentlink.org