It goes without saying that you can buy just about anything on the internet — electronics, antiques, even the opportunity to find the love of your life. And now, as one Seattle company brings the organic farmer online, you can even purchase local produce.
It’s called Farmstr and it’s run by Janelle Maiocco — farmer, chef and the blogger behind “Talk of Tomatoes.” The website connects customers not just with local farmers, but ranchers and fishers, too.
For Maiocco, the idea sprouted from her concern about the food industry. Over the years, she noticed how many chemicals are ingested through our food, and she wanted to make organic food a viable option. So she started Farmstr, a simple solution with a simple process.
In order to be a seller on the site, the farmer must use all organic processes, which are vetted and checked. Once approved, the vendor can set up a seller profile and post the items for sale. For each transaction, Farmstr keeps 6.5 percent.
When an order is placed, vendors place the goods in one of the designated drop boxes around Washington State to be picked up by the customer. Currently, there are three drop boxes in Seattle and one each in Bellingham, Everett, Issaquah, Redmond and Tacoma.
So why do vendors and customers use the site? For customers, it’s a way to access fresh, high-quality, local food — often for better prices than what are available elsewhere. And for producers, it’s a way to expand the reach of their small farm operations.
Although Farmstr has yet to make a profit, the future is looking bright. As of May 2014, the website has raised $1.3 million in capital funding, and employs four full-time employees, two interns and is looking for two more for full-time workers.
More employees aren’t the only thing this startup is looking to add, though, as Maiocco hopes to expand the company into other areas outside the Pacific Northwest.
“I’m passionate about connecting local produce and consumers,” she told Sustainable Cities Collective. “I’m passionate about making good food accessible…The little guys, urban farmers, hobby farmers ― they need customers.”
And thanks to Farmstr, they have them. From the depths of cyberspace, Maiocco is making organic food a reality for producers and customers, one chemically-free vegetable at a time.
MORE: How Salvaging the Food in Your Own Backyard Can Help Your Community and the Environment