If you’re unfamiliar with Vermont, it’s a fairly small state (though also very pretty) and therefore there isn’t a large market for farmers. NPR reports that farmers in the state have roughly only 600,000 residents in addition to tourists to sell to. Realizing the need to expand the market, a startup company out of Berlin, Vermont called Farmers to You decided to do something about it.
Farmers to You owner Greg Georgaklis “aggregates food from about 50 Vermont farms and sells it to families in the Boston area,” according to NPR. The result is twofold: Vermont farmers get a greater reach and Boston families who have limited access to farmers markets get the fresh food they want.
“If you think about it, the system of food distribution in the U.S. is not friendly to small, organic, diversified farms,” Candace Page, a food writer, told NPR. “Farms don’t have the time to get their products on supermarket shelves in Boston, even if the supermarkets were willing to deal with it, which they aren’t. If you live in an urban area and you want to eat locally grown food, you’re going to have a hard time doing it. The key to Farmers to You is the existence of the Internet, which shrinks the distance between Boston and Vermont.”
Subscribing families must agree to spend $40 per week. They are then able to go to the website and purchase available food that is in season. The orders are taken on Sundays. Farmers to You then orders it from the farmers on Mondays. On Tuesdays the food is delivered to the Farmers to You warehouse and the orders are prepared. Families can pick up their orders on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when the food is transported to drop-off areas in Boston.
A benefit for the farmers in signing up for this program is expanding their market.
“Farmers to You [serves] up to 750 families in the Boston area, so there is a fair amount of demand there. I talked to three farmers about why they sell to [the company]. Their general response was they get a good price, a better price than they get from most other wholesale markets they enter,” Page told NPR.
For the families in Boston, “They get very good, Vermont-raised food… Most of the food sold is organic, but I think even if it isn’t organic, people have more confidence in what they eat if they knew who grew it,” Page said, according to NPR. “Farmers to You has gone to great lengths to make a connection beyond the food, an emotional connection between the consuming families and the farmers. The website has wonderful videos where the individual farmers on their farms talk about how they grow their food and why they are in the business of growing food.”
Do you think this type of program would work in other states?