Skip to comments.Virtual co-op links farmers, restaurants
Posted on 08/30/2011 6:58:20 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
It is possible to create jobs, have healthier diets and improve the local economy by re-birthing local agriculture on small plots of land. Each pound of lettuce or eggs or beef shipped from California, Latin America or Mexico raises our dependency on foreign oil. And buying food from far away costs us jobs locally. Some communities have figured out a new path forward that fixes all that.
North Carolinas Rutherford County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Yet some 6,000 families own between 5 and 20 acres of land, and chefs in nearby Charlotte are in need of fresh produce for their restaurants. Local leaders helped create something called the Farmers Fresh Market (http://www.farmersfreshmarket.org/) that lets Charlotte chefs and residents place orders for produce directly with Appalachian farmers. Next, to help raise incomes, the co-op educated the local farmers to grow more exotic items, like colorful kale and purple beans, that had a higher cash value. Two years later, Farmers Fresh Market counts 90 local farmers among its members in what amounts to a virtual co-op.
Grower members of the co-op plant crops they know the restaurants and schools have expressed interest in. When harvest approaches, the food producers list their upcoming harvest on the website. Interested food retailers and restaurants contract online for delivery. A driver, hired by the co-op, makes the pick-up rounds of the farms guided by a geo-routing map for efficiency and delivers the crops to the customers, again by geo-mapping routes. The farmers set their own prices, and the co-op takes a percentage off the top to pay for the driver and operation of the co-op website.
The website cost about $5,000 to set up, and the buyers pay a 10 percent transaction fee to help maintain the site.
Think of a sort of eBay for Food virtual co-op that connects local farmers and growers with local institutions, country clubs and restaurants so that local areas could regrow a healthy agriculture economy while cutting down on food transportation costs and improving local diets.
This project has the potential to be a significant contributor to the local rural economy, according to Timothy Will, a retired telecommunications analyst who set up the online market. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture, every dollar brought into a farm economy by a small farm producer has an 8 to 1 multiplier. This means other local business get $8 worth of business as that dollar gets handed along in the community, until it finally leaves to pay for imported oil or other goods not locally available.
In addition to teaching farmers computing skills and converting a vacant plot into a demonstration garden, FarmersFresh has introduced sustainable agriculture courses for adults and high school students. Its kind of a resurrection of our history, says Lindy Abrams, a 25-year-old who, after losing her job and enrolling in Wills adult-education class, now grows vegetables and salad greens on land her granddad once farmed. People are really excited.
The FarmersFresh concept is being expanded into new markets, with a current focus on the upstate S.C. region specifically Greenville and they hope to market/distribute the Farmers Fresh Market software/website nationally.
By pooling the transportation and marketing effort and costs, each food producer is freed from tasks they are not skilled at, and can now use their talents at food production, while reducing overhead. This allows the final food product to be priced more competitively than factory farmed food, while paying food producers a premium price for their product. This also increases our national security by keeping our food supply decentralized and less vulnerable to disruption either from accident or malice. We can be optimistic if other areas copy Rutherford.
If every community in America implemented projects like this, our country would be richer, have higher employment, cleaner air, healthier food, and lower taxes. Whats not to like?
Wonderful idea. Hope federal regs don’t kill it though.
Economies of scale in food production are the entire reason we can feed the six billion people on Planet Earth.
You still don't understand what President Cloward-Piven is all about?
Overwhelm the system. That's the plan. That's the only plan.
This makes so much sense it’s almost freightening in this day and age. I hope it takes off—big time!
TN has a website dedicated to local food producers. It includes phone numbers and maps.
Prediction: They’ll be allowed to operate without government interference, until they’re financially sound. Then various government agencies will tax them and regulate them out of business.
I’m betting the one will sign an EO making it illegal.
I was going to say, with economies of scale, it is more frugal to eat the produce flown in from wherever.
Otherwise, IT WOULD BE MORE EXPENSIVE.
Absent subsidies, the free market reflects the most efficient delivery of food.
The cheapest apples are the ones that were most efficiently grown, shipped and stored.
It’s reflected in the price.
When you buy the cheapest, you are usually supporting the most efficient producer.
Sometimes you may be getting ripped off with older stuff or crummier stuff, but you just have to be a sharp consumer on that.
The exception is if we are discussing subsidized stuff, which will skew the efficiency of the free market’s analysis.
BTW I also found that by eating honey from a beekeeper down the road from me, honey made from local pollen, I don't get the hay fever I used to get.
That's so unfair!
Good intentions should trump EVERYTHING.
Bump for l8r
I didn’t work a million years to climb to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian or vegan.
Depends on whether or not you have enough of them.
What a great idea! Lots of folks are into the '100 mile' movement. They try to eat only produce that's grown within 100 miles of their homes. Of course that limits you to the growing seasons, but that's the way things were, even as recently as 20 years ago, unless you were willing to pay a HUGE premium for the produce.
But this isn’t about feeding the planet. It’s about supplying a niche market — chefs at certain kinds of restaurants that want certain kinds of foods not generally available on the broader market at a reasonably price and fresh, for use in “special” dishes designed to up the restaurant’s game.
Two completely different things.
No one is ever going to need to grow acres and acres of purple kale or exotic beans in order to feed the planet.
This type of farming is no different from manufacturing. In fact, it is more like manufacturing than agriculture, precisely because its purpose is not to grow food for feeding the masses, but to grow food as a sort of “art supply,” for use by creative chefs in the culinary arts.