As consumer demand for local food access increases, local supply access is more important than ever.
Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois Specialty Growers Association (ISGA), Illinois MarketMaker and several other farm and specialty groups encourage farmers, specialty growers, value-added producers, processors and food businesses to utilize free online marketing opportunities to enhance and expand their reach in communities across the state.
Prairie Bounty, a directory of more than 900 farms, businesses and specialty groups across the state, is available online at specialtygrowers.org/shoplocal. Users can create an account or edit an already established account profile from their website.
IFB and ISGA most recently partnered with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and 10 of the leading Illinois food and farm organizations to create Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois, a statewide local food promotional program. Existing participants of Prairie Bounty now have the opportunity to update their profile to include the Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois affiliation, Illinois Farmers Markets Association affiliation, and/or the Homegrown by Heroes affiliation to appear on their websites for free as well. Participants manage one profile but can be found on multiple websites for promotion depending on their choice affiliations.
“By combining resources and funding, we’re creating a comprehensive food resource for Illinois shoppers and a cohesive local food marketing campaign,” said Raghela Scavuzzo, IFB associate director of food systems development.
The Prairie Bounty directory contains contact information and locations for farmers of fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and herbs as well as listings for breweries, wineries, farmers’ markets and processors throughout Illinois. The directory provides consumers with contact information, products available, method of sale, growing practices, and in some cases, an online store.
New in 2020 is the integration of e-commerce through LocalLine. Farms and businesses can now set up e-commerce stores or post product listings in the MarketMaker buy/sell forum. This unique partnership between MarketMaker and LocalLine includes a cost of 5% per transaction, rather than traditional subscription fees. Users have flexibility in setting prices, delivery/pick-up methods, packaging and ordering deadlines based on their needs. If the user has an already established online store, they can embed the link on their profile.
“This is now more than ever an important free tool for local farms and businesses to reach consumers,” said Scavuzzo. “The more comprehensive information a grower can add to their profile, the better, as they will be more searchable to the consumer. This also applies to adding organizational affiliations, as a listing will then appear in those associated directories, databases and websites.”
This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.