Sustainable Food News ~ New Website Like Yelp for California Farmers

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The FarmsReach Source Directory, the first online business directory for California farmers, was launched today by the Berkeley-based social enterprise, FarmsReach. The website links FarmsReach member farmers with approved providers of everything from deer fences to irrigation systems, as well as farm-friendly service providers like lenders, contractors and nonprofit organizations.

“Think of it as a Yelp for farmers,” said FarmsReach founder Melanie Cheng, referring to the widely used “crowdsourcing” website for consumers. “Farmers get most of their referrals by word-of-mouth from fellow farmers. Our online directory makes it easier for everyone to learn who does good work or offers quality services, so they can make smarter, more informed choices.”

Inspiration for the Source Directory came from the successes of similar offerings by social enterprises and farmer co-ops in Asia and Europe, which provide farmers with vital connections to trusted suppliers. “Directories like this for the U.S. agriculture community are long overdue,” Cheng said.

Founded in 2007, FarmsReach has grown to more than 600 members – primarily farmers, but also farm-related nonprofits, Cooperative Extension advisors, and providers of materials and services to the agriculture community. “We launched in California, our home base, but many of the online and offline resources we provide can be equally useful in other regions. We hope to expand our directory services into other parts of the country soon,” said Cheng.

FarmsReach adds new members daily while also creating collaborative, working relationships with organizations that serve its farmer members. “We’re driven completely by our members and partner organizations. Together, we are building a true support system for the agriculture community,” Cheng said.

Inclusion in the FarmsReach Source Directory is free to approved providers. For a monthly fee that ranges from $50 to $1,000 per month, basic listings can be enhanced with prominent placement, pictures, videos, educational articles or promotional offerings. Samples of such “mini-sites” can be viewed

Because FarmsReach offers many non-revenue-generating programs for farmers, it depends on income from its Source Directory and other upcoming services to cover operating costs. Cheng notes, “We worked with our members and partners to create a pricing structure and directory design to be a win-win-win for farmers, service providers and FarmsReach.”

Suppliers and service providers serving California farmers who are interested in being considered for inclusion in the FarmsReach Source Directory can apply via FarmsReach’s website

Organizations collaborating with FarmsReach include the University of California Cooperative Extension, California FarmLink, ATTRA/National Center for Appropriate Technology, California Alliance for Family Farmers, Organic Seed Alliance, Food & Water Watch, The Nature Conservancy, Center for Land-Based Learning and the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

This article also appeared in Agri-Marketing News and The Californian.

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