Shop an Online Farmers’ Market

Software developer’s online farmers' market brainstorm now reaches more than 3,000 customers in Canada, the Virgin Islands and the United States.


| November/December 2011



frederickfarm

Frederick County Virtual Farmers' Market

GRIT Staff

What is an online farmers’ market? It’s a brilliant blend of farmers’ market, community supported agriculture groups and electronic communication. It’s one more avenue to bring locally grown food to eager consumers.

The idea is not even a decade old, but is catching on all over the world. The concept is the brainchild of Eric Wagoner, a farmer and software developer in Athens, Georgia. He and a few fellow farmers started a collective in 2002 to sell quality food to area chefs. The idea of selling to chefs never succeeded, but he took his small core of a dozen or so household customers and focused on selling to families. Over the next five years, his dozen customers grew to 3,000. The LocallyGrown network is now in Canada, the United States and the Virgin Islands. What began and failed as an online food market to restaurants succeeded as an online food market to families.

How online farmers’ markets work

In 2007, Wagoner made the LocallyGrown.net software available to other markets, charging a fee to cover software and hosting costs. The philosophy still centers on local farmers and local pickup points. The concept to make it convenient for buyers to find locally grown produce and artisan foods is appealing to urban and rural communities. Additionally, the buyers support local farms with a guaranteed outlet for the farm’s products and fresh, sustainably grown food.

How does it work? Let’s use the Cumberland (Tennessee) Sustainable Farmers’ Market as an example. The subsite is Crossville.LocallyGrown.net. To become a member, you create an account on the sign-up page, and you then receive emails letting you know when the market is open and what products are available. You are free to order from any or all of the farmers and bakers.

Growers who would like to sell on Crossville.LocallyGrown.net fill out an application online to give the manager an idea of the producers’ growing or baking practices.

For now, the market only accepts farmers practicing sustainable farming and providing chemical-free products.





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