Can Putting Farmers Online Make Food Biz More Sustainable?

The idea of buying food from a local farm might seem like the very opposite of high tech. But FarmsReach, a California startup that won the audience choice award at our Green:Net conference this week, hopes to make it easier to buy directly from farms by putting produce online.
The company has developed a web marketplace to make it easier for buyers — such as restaurants, hospitals and schools — to order produce from nearby farmers, and for farmers to manage their sales and deliveries. Farmers list the produce they have for sale on the site, and buyers can search for the fruits and vegetables they want and place orders, either picking them up at nearby farmer’s markets or having them delivered.
Founded in 2007, FarmsReach officially launched its beta program at Green:Net on Tuesday, although it had a “soft launch” two weeks ago. Some 60 restaurants have already signed up to use the site, including Americano Restaurant & Bar, Globe Restaurant and Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco. The company also lists 11 farms on its site, including Capay Organic Farm, Heirloom Organics and Dirty Girl Produce. On the beta site Wednesday night, searches turned up anywhere from 16 to 0 results.
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