It is only through technology that we are able to coordinate orders, farmers, products, deliveries, and everything else that makes a local food marketplace a well-oiled machine. We spent a significant amount of time researching the software systems currently available before deciding to build our own. Growers Local has some unique needs that the currently available software doesn’t meet. For example:
- We are not just a website that connects individual buyers with individual sellers. Rather, we are a central distribution location for buyers and sellers.
- Consumers are able to order from multiple farmers during a given week and pick up their entire packaged order at once.
- Similarly, farmers agree to sell products into the system without worrying about who the products are sold to. They get a harvest list indicating what they need to bring to the central distribution point, where orders will be packaged for consumers.
- Consumers will be able to order both single-item products and CSA subscriptions.
- CSA subscriptions may contain produce from multiple farmers.
Here’s a rundown of the systems we looked at:
This is primarily a CSA management tool for CSA farmers. Its public website is now a search engine for consumers. Consumers enter their city, and Farmigo will display a list of nearby pickup locations. Customers select a location, and Farmigo will display a list of farmers servicing that location. The next step is for the consumer to enter their contact information so the farm can contact them.
It is possible for CSAs to set up their own online stores. This allows customers to order subscriptions and single items directly from the farmer, but separate orders must be made for each individual farmer. Each farmer may have his own pickup time.
Growers Local, by contrast, will allow customers to order from several farmers at once and receive their packaged bundles from all farmers at one time.
CRM, inventory, and accounting software for CSA farms. CSAs set up their own online stores. There is no ability for consumers to search multiple farmers. This is a good option for individual farmers running individual CSA farms.
Local Food Marketplace
This system most closely resembles what Growers Local is trying to do. It is a coop of farmers and consumers. Ordering occurs cyclically. Consumers place their orders from a variety of farmers during the order cycle, and volunteers will package their orders on pickup day. Consumers come and pick up their packages, consisting of produce from multiple farmers. Farmers are credited appropriately.
This system is implemented in several successful, high-growth food coops across the country.
Downsides are the user interface and the fact that the system does not handle subscriptions or bundles. Only single products may be ordered from this system.
Like Farmigo, Local Dirt provides a search engine for cosumers, who may place individual orders with individual farms. Customers must pick up orders at the individual farms.
Local Food Coop
Open source system for online food coops using a cyclical ordering system. Similar to LocalFoodMarketplace, does not allow subscriptions or bundles. A quick review of the source code revealed some serious security vulnerabilities.
Resources For Developing An Online Food Coop
Growers Local will be very similar to these operations..