Farmigo: a social network for fresh, cheap food

Farm + Amigo = Farmigo. Trouble finding the grass-fed, organic, seasonal products you want? Ask your friends to help. A website offers new platform for bringing communities and local farmers together.
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor

A new website launched this week aiming to give more people access to local, fresh foods that are not only cheap but convenient. Organic and local foods have become a bigger portion of mainstream meals over the decade, but finding the foods you want at the price you want can still be challenging. Show up late to your favorite booth at the weekend farmer’s market, and you may find yourself on a scavenger hunt for your preferred produce.

Farmigo is essentially a cross between a CSA (community-supported agriculture) membership and a Groupondeal. Once enough people in your area buy-in with orders for a local farm, the producer will schedule deliveries—veggies, meat, fish, dairy and other goods—to a set location. This could be your company, your kid’s school, your church, YMCA, or in my case, the neighborhood wine store.

Debuting at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference on Monday, Farmigo has 1,500 pick-up locations so far, but there is room to grow. At last count in 2007, the USDA puts the country’s total number of CSAs at 12,549. Farmigo hopes to enlarge the member base for existing CSAs as well as create more of them by providing a platform for people to connect with local food producers. If there isn’t a pick-up location near you, you make one through the website. This is what the Palo Alto-based company is banking on in order to reach more diverse regions and people across the U.S.

Take my area of Brooklyn. Within a mile, I can get a half box of veggies, a seasonal subscription for flowers, 5 months of eggs, some milk and coffee add-ons, and a whole hog, hooves and all. One location even accepts food stamps, a crucial step some CSAs take to help poorer families gain access to healthier foods. This particular hood, however, already has multiple foodie establishments, farmers’ markets, organic food stores, community gardens and co-ops. In that sense, Farmigo’s service might be redundant for some but still convenient enough to do well and spread to other areas. This is where the Groupon-like element of the network comes in.

For the company to have the most meaningful impact on what’s cooking on the country’s countertops, word of mouth is key. By encouraging friends, relatives and co-workers to join, more people could start seeing food-shopping as a social affair, a relationship that benefits farmer and consumer. According to The Financial Times, participating farmers get a much higher percentage of each sale than they would typically from conventional supermarkets. The idea is that those savings show up on the subscription prices.

For its part cutting through administrative hassles for farmers and CSA operators, Farmigo receives 2 percent of every sale (or a minimum of $150 a month). Watch how it works:

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Images: Flickr/Stewsnews, Wikipedia Commons, Farmigo

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