Over the past few years, San Francisco-based company Farmigo has been aligning its expertise in online capabilities with the concept of community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), in which a network or community supports local farmers by agreeing at the beginning of a growing season to purchase harvest produce from growers. Farmigo, which has been designing software to help farms manage their CSA client lists since 2009, took the idea one step further in 2012, and began establishing a hub to facilitate CSA delivery to any site a group wanted to use as a communal pick-up point.
Many people would like to buy at farmers’ markets, but lack the time or don’t have access to one. At the same time, not all farms have the capacity to deliver countless “vegetable boxes” to a multitude of different customers.
The Farmigo network allows workplaces, schools, companies, and other groups to set up a weekly order from farmers within a 100-mile radius, and agree upon a regular pick-up point where the produce will be delivered within 48 hours of harvest. Customers can browse local delivery locations, multiple producers, and available items, and then sign up for a regular subscription. A minimum number of subscriptions must be gathered before a community can be approved, making the new hub worthwhile for producers and more reliable for customers.
In a 2013 interview, Farmigo founder and CEO Benzi Ronen explained that many individuals and communities would like to be more involved in supporting local producers, but that the traditional CSA model places the burden of organization on farmers, and that networks are not always easy to locate or navigate. Also, some CSA models only allow consumers to buy from a limited number of producers. Farmigo’s program allows consumers to create their own farmers’ markets at a convenient location while reducing the administrative burden on the producers themselves. Forbes Magazine has called Farmigo model the “Avon For Local food.”
Farmigo recently launched the Champion Initiative, which offers “community food leaders” a means of creating their own local food business. Champions are organizers who invite people to join Farmigo and set up a drop-off point. In return, they receive 10 percent of community sales. Used by some schools and churches as a method of fundraising, the Champion site provides marketing tools and management support to food organizers.
The Farmigo concept, currently available in the San Francisco Bay Area and the New York City metropolitan region, uses technology and modern online habits to create a platform for consumers to support local producers, creating a new kind of farmers’ market: Self-organized and convenient for buyers and sellers alike, it is on the way to creating a better, healthier food system.