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The Chesapeake 'veggie fairy' and the rise of the gig economy

While many traditional jobs suffered during the pandemic, "side gig" jobs like ridesharing, e-commerce and food delivery have remained strong.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Every Thursday, Sarah Leland’s day starts in the Greenbrier Mall parking lot in Chesapeake.

She’s part of a small group of people divvying out boxes of fresh vegetables and then heading out on a delivery route.

“It’s something I take time to do because I think it matters,” Leland said.

Sarah is a self-proclaimed Veggie Fairy, delivering those boxes of regional produce and fresh food door to door for the company Seasonal Roots.

But Leland is also part of a bigger movement that’s taken off during the pandemic.

You may have heard of the gig economy.

Where many traditional jobs suffered in 2020, "side gig" jobs like ridesharing, e-commerce, and, in Leland’s case, food delivery have remained strong.

Gig economy wages and participation grew 33% in 2020, according to Business Wire.

"As a side hustle it’s more than I ever thought it would be, because it really has been booming," Leland said.

Leland has more than tripled her customer base since the pandemic started, and even with vaccines and people getting out more, it hasn’t slowed down.

The gig movement is only expected to get stronger. 

Many economists predict this kind of flexible, untraditional employment will continue to shake up the country’s workforce. 

Software company Intuit even reported that 80% of major U.S. companies will lean heavily on gig workers in the next few years.