Have trouble getting up early on Saturday morning to get to the farmers market? Yeah, me too. And while more supermarkets are featuring more selections of local food on their shelves and in their stalls, there’s nothing quite like that straight-from-the-farm produce. What’s a late sleeper to do?
A new web service, Local Dirt, is out to make the connection between the local farmer and buyer more convenient. Say you’re looking for local peaches during the season. Local Dirt’s interface allows you to set search criteria based on location, product, and even venue (if you choose), and find a farmer from whom you can buy online. Sleep in on Saturday, get to the market late, and your peaches are still there… the service provides you with a purchase order to take to the vendor. Some of the farmers may even deliver…
Creating greater access for local food
As Local Dirt CEO Heather Hilleren noted in a presentation at DEMO 2009, buying and selling local produce, meats, and other products is still decidedly “old school.” That has some advantages: it’s great to be able to talk to the farmer who grew your food, or to visit the farm to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. Some consumers want to take those extra steps; others really want to buy locally, but aren’t interested in investing the necessary time.
Now, imagine you’re buying produce for a large institution: a school, a hospital, or a company cafeteria. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to know that a farmer has the food you want, in the quantity you need? Local Dirt takes some the steps out of the process for large buyers, too: not only can you find the farmers selling the produce you want, but can also see what they have in stock.
Bringing Farmers and Buyers together… online
Interest in eating locally has never been greater, so bringing down the barriers that currently exist between buyers and sellers can only help fuel the demand from individuals and institutions. Local Dirt is definitely on to something…
At this point, the service may or may not be useful depending on your location… I did a search for my area, and was only able to find sellers just under 200 miles away. On the other hand, I did a search with a San Francisco zip code, and got two pages of results with a 10 mile limiter. I imagine the geographical disparities will decrease as more farmers learn about the service, and see the benefits of 24/7 availability.
This strikes me as really useful for farmers and buyers… but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Know of other online services that allow for buying from local farmers? Share them…