Harry Stevens is a freelance reporter covering climate change, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and sustainable finance. Harry has contributed to several media outlets, including Justmeans, GreenBiz, SocialEarth, and Sustainablog. You can follow Harry on Twitter: @Harry_Stevens...
Bay Area Startup Brings Farmers Markets Online
Farmigo, the San Francisco-based company that brought community supported agriculture (CSA) to the Web, has launched a new service that lets community groups like schools and workplaces purchase food from local farms.
Each community group will have a dedicated Farmigo site where they can access a set of local farms. Using Farmigo's platform, communities can buy fresh produce, bread, cheeses, meat, wine and coffee, which will be delivered to the community location within 48 hours of harvest.
"At Farmigo, we envision a community-oriented food system in which people and farmers in the same geographic region are connected, and everyone has access to fresh-from-harvest food," said Benzi Ronen, Farmigo founder and CEO.
Farmers markets have experienced significant growth in the last few decades. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of registered farmers markets has skyrocketed from 1,755 in 1994 to 7,864 in 2012.
But most farmers markets are held one day per week during the summer months, and many potential customers do not have access to the fresh, local produce being offered.
"We believe Farmigo's approach can really accelerate the amount of people who have access to locally harvested, fresh food," said Nick Papadopolous of Bloomfield Farms Organics in Petaluma, Calif. "It can have a big impact on improving the efficiency and sustainability of our food system."
Farmigo is rolling out the first food communities in San Francisco and New York with Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Chicago and Philadelphia soon to follow. The company is actively seeking out individuals who want to help bring Farmigo to their workplace, school, or community center.
A number of cutting-edge companies, including Etsy, Kiva and Carrot Creative, are already using Farmigo to purchase local food through Farmigo's online platform.
"Starting a Farmigo food community was a perfect opportunity to stand out by offering a health and wellness benefit to our employees that is unique and aligned with our company values," said Mike Germano, CEO of Carrot Creative, a new media marketing agency located in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.
"Everyone is impressed with the quality and variety of the farms and food, and how easy and convenient it is to order and coordinate," added Mr. Germano. "It feels great to be part of a program that is supporting a local economy of farmers."
Farmigo has also announced it has raised $8 million in Series B financing from Sherbrooke Capital and RSF Social Finance. The financing followed a Series A round led by Benchmark Capital.
RSF Social Finance, which has made over $250 million in loans and $100 million in grants to social enterprises since 1984, was attracted to Farmigo's mission to build healthy, resilient, local food systems.
"What makes Farmigo stand out is their ability to effectively leverage technology as a tool for building a new food system," said Joe Avenatti, Managing Director of RSF Capital Management. "Farmigo's platform results in higher consumption of sustainably produced goods, increased acreage used in a sustainable manner, and represents an increasingly viable model for local food distribution."
Image credit: NatalieMaynor, Flickr