If you like buying fresh food at the farmers market and supporting local farmers, you’ve got a brand new option as of today in San Francisco, and that is to set up your own localized weekly delivery site and manage it online.
Farmigo is launching this initiative here and in New York, with other cities to follow soon.
Anyone can set up one of these personalized farmers markets, and begin receiving a variety of fresh foods direct from multiple Northern California farmers within 48 hours of when they are harvested.
The minimum volume for this model to work is about 30 orders of around $20 each per week, so the logical places would be workplaces, schools, and community centers, including larger housing complexes.
“For schools and community centers like churches and synagogues, we offer it as a fundraiser,” says Farmigo founder and CEO Benzi Ronen. “We will donate five percent of the sales to them.”
Items currently available include most staples, such as seasonal fruit, vegetables, eggs, meats, fish, bread, cheeses, jams, dried fruits, granola, salad mixes, wine and coffee.
The ten local farmers participating at launch in this program will benefit greatly by selling directly to consumers.
“Instead of making 20 cents on the dollar wholesale in the industrial food system, they can earn 80 cents on the dollar with Farmigo,” says Ronen. “You place your weekly order 48 hours before delivery. So the farmer only harvests what you pre-order; the crops are then harvested. The money you pay is held in an escrow account until 24 hours after delivery before we pay the farmer.”
Farmigo takes a ten percent cut of the transaction.
The company is one of 650 “B Corporations,” which seek to broaden business goals beyond maximizing profits to help solve social and environmental problems. (Other examples are Etsy, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry’s.)
“If food decisions are left in the hands of big corporations then we will continue to have the industrial food system we have today,” says Ronen. “The alternative is tens of thousands of local food communities supporting local farmers.”
Ronen notes that the biggest risk Farmigo is taking with its disruptive new model of online farmers markets is that he is dependent on individuals to take the initiative to set up their local “food community.”
He refers to one of those entrepreneurial rules of thumb – the “1-9-90” rule, which holds that only one person out of a hundred will actually take an action such as this, whereas nine others will read and comment on it and the 90 others will just read it.
“Finding champions is a complication in our model,” Ronen acknowledges.
During a beta testing period, organizations trying out the new system locally have included Kiva.org, UCSF, the JCC in Palo Alto, and LaunchSquad.