Feature: Moving America’s Heart and Soul: Small to Medium Business Driving Change

Farmers Markets Going Mainstream

Author: Steve Woods
Published: January 11, 2013 at 8:05 am
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Thank you to Spark Business from Capital One for sponsoring this feature highlighting small business.

Once the place your grandparents congregated for produce, farmer’s markets are now coming of age again. The smells of fresh produce, home-baked goods, apple cider and a local band’s music wafting in the breeze. The last thing that might ever cross your mind at a farmer’s market is technology. For many of these open-air marketplaces, however, it’s tech that’s keeping the market open longer and providing the opportunity for it to succeed over the long haul.

If you’re a small business, regardless of what you sell, read and take note...

It used to be that the streetwise markets closed up shop when the leaves changed color, but increasingly, farmer’s markets are returning week after week, well into the colder months. New, easy-to-use technologies prolonging the growing season for many farmers are allowing “winter farmer’s markets” to crop up all over the nation. In fact, the USDA put out a report listing 1,864 markets that keep their doors open during the less mild months — an increase of 52% over 2011.

The USDA has grant programs that provide farmers in cold climate-impacted areas the ability to purchase hoop houses (or high tunnels), which look like long plastic-covered hangers. These cover the crops, trapping in warmth and moisture, and extend favorable conditions for the continued growth of fruits and vegetables long after the outside weather has turned for the worse. Over 2,300 high tunnels are being constructed on farms across 43 states this year, providing a steady stream of produce for otherwise closed markets.

Not everyone, however, knows that their local farmer’s markets continue operation, or customers simply don’t want to trudge out in the snow, sleet or cold rain to grab a bag of fresh organic apples. New technologies and ideas, however, are plowing the way to greater recognition, and creating the ability to bring fresh produce to you, wherever you are.

How does food picked fresh within the last 48 hours from a local farm and delivered to your doorstep sound? If you’re getting a mental thumbs-up over this concept, then consider a site like Farmigo. The startup has begun setting up impromptu markets in New York and San Francisco, connecting over 3,000 growing “communities” with people who want fresh fruit and vegetables, but simply can’t make the time to shop at the farmers market. Growers and potential buyers set up accounts with Farmigo, and the site matches them up for produce orders and delivery to homes, offices, community centers, churches — wherever the shoppers would like to meet to buy and pick up the freshly picked goods.

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Article Author: Steve Woods

Tech Geek. Digital Sommelier. Tea Aficionado. Founder of http://www.kupeesh.com Twitter: @YouKnowSteve

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