shopping for local food online. (yes, really)

Lynda and I are just back from visiting upstate New York, where we met some folks who are working on an innovative program that combines the internet and local food producers to create an online ordering system. It’s for all those “buy local” supporters who don’t have time to get to the farmers markets, cheese shops, or roadside stands.

It’s called Chenango Bounty (a play on Chenango County). The basic concept is this: farmers and other local food producers can post their weekly availability on a central website, and then customers can shop online–almost as if they were on–for everything from syrup to fresh produce (including cheese, milk, bread, eggs, apple cider, jam, mustard, etc). A weekly delivery truck will bring their order straight to their door.

It’s a pretty new system, with some hiccups still to be worked out. The local agricultural economic development specialist told us about challenges with delivery trucks breaking down, limited funding, and farmer hesitations–but overall they’re happy with their progress and upbeat about the future. The biggest challenge they face now is boosting customer demand, so that farmers can rely on the web system for relatively steady orders. Currently, they might get a huge order one week and no orders the next week, because there just aren’t enough customers using the system yet. Getting those customers will require marketing, which is in short supply since the county funding is tight. Hopefully if they stick with it long enough, word of mouth will help do the job.

Who would have thought that online shopping could play such a positive role for the local economy? I guess if you can’t beat ’em, you’ve got to join ’em.



Filed under Farm News, Farm Philosophy

2 responses to “shopping for local food online. (yes, really)

  1. Thanks for sharing that! Nice post. I just glanced through it.

  2. Ryan S

    Hi Emmett/Lynda,
    Just came upon the website (from a comment you made on another website…keep that up!). This blog is a great idea and I’ve really enjoyed reading the posts you have so far.

    Regarding shopping online for local food; definitely “join ’em.” Don’t underestimate the power of the web. We visit the Windsor/Healdsburg markets all the time and, as a result of your hard work on this website, we will be visiting your booth this coming weekend. On top of that, the fact that this site has given me a peek into the hard work it takes to bring this food to market, right or wrong, I’m more likely to buy more than I normally would.

    There is tons of potential on the web and I truly believe it’s a required element of everyone’s business plan these days. I have a little (I do mean a little) experience working with a website and would be more than happy to share some ideas for this site if you’re interested (trust me, I’m not selling anything:>). Shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested.
    Keep up the great work!

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