Local Food Producers and the World Wide Web

by Nicole Sanchez, NC Cooperative Extension

In a recent post I asked readers to describe the barriers to eating local foods that they encounter. I really appreciate the responses! The barriers mentioned were all things that I was aware of and am thinking about (or attempting to implement) solutions for, but it was so helpful to hear these issues in the words of consumers! I am hopeful that sharing your words with the growers will help them see things with a different perspective.

One suggestion addressed several times was the need for a web presence. This can be a tough nut to crack – even many of the younger farmers who recognize the value of the internet and use it themselves, have a hard time finding time maintaining, developing, and updating a web site. Other, older growers may have difficulty understanding how a web presence may benefit them, or be unsure of where to get started. And during the growing season when they are working sunup to sundown and beyond, even the most computer-savvy grower is going to postpone website maintenance in favor of eating or sleeping.

Despite this, local foods do have a presence on the internet! North Carolina has multiple web sites that can help you find local foods in your area. Below, I have identified and briefly described several of the sites that you can use to locate local foods. Of course, you already know that you can also find information about local foods right here at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association site. However, I find that most growers only put their information on one or two sites, at most. I sure wish I had a web-savvy intern (or an endless supply of hours in the day) to help our growers be more consistent and active in promoting themselves on the web. Until then, please use the sites below. And, let the growers know you found out about them on the web, so they can better understand the value of this promotional tool to their enterprises.

NC Farm Fresh lists farms, farmers’ markets and roadside
stands by county, including maps and directions for many locations, with descriptions of the produce and season of availability.

Eat Well Guide/ Food Routes.org allows you to search by city, zip, or the product you are looking for. You can also check a trip route to search for local foods as you travel. Focus on organic and sustainable foods.

Local Harvest is searchable by product or location and includes produce, meats, CSA’s, farm stores, and online stores.

NC 10% includes links to multiple sites for
finding local foods and a place for individuals to commit to spending 10% of their food dollars on local produce.

Feast Down East Partnership provides access to listings of CSA and farmers markets, while also focusing on restaurants that promote local foods.

Green People provides search engines for CSA, vegan, organic, kosher, and health foods. Farmer’s market listing leads to the USDA page.

Real Time Farms. So far, this site does not include any NC growers. (I hope to change that!) The site is a good resource for those trying to better understand food sources.

Southern Living Travel lists farm stands and markets; great for when you are traveling to another area.

I hope that this list will help some of you connect with additional local growers in your area. I am including this list of web sites in my current newsletter sent to growers in the five counties I work in as an extension agent, suggesting that growers participate in as many of the sites as appropriate for their firms. If you find a new resource using one of these sites, please let the grower know how you found him!

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