Farm Fresh Network
Access – Educate – Communicate – Thrive
Building Stronger Communities Through Online Access to Regenerative Market-Based Food Systems
At Farm Fresh Network, we’re part of the growing change in the way people access local food. By providing online access for markets with local growers and producers, everyone experiences equitable access to fresh, nutritious food. By using our innovative online platform, our clients create sustainable, regenerative food systems founded on access, opportunity, and education. Not just another online market, your market can be the cornerstone of a thriving community. One that changes the way your community accesses healthy, nutritious food
When you join Farm Fresh Network, your community can finally benefit from a truly regenerative food system calibrated to their best interests.
Remember When Your Market was Just an Idea?
Many of today’s farmers’ markets started off wanting to do more than just provide a Saturday market experience. The original business plan never mentioned just serving those able to make it to the market when it was open. Instead, when you read their websites, their lofty goals come out as true desires to do something more. When they built their market, they wanted it to inspire community, provide healthy food, and teach people how to repeat this so the market, the community, and their neighbors continued to prosper, despite the world around them.
What is a Regenerative Food System?
“Regenerative Food System” is a term we use to describe local food systems built as an alternative to commercial grocery chains. As a system, it promotes access, education, and communication as key functions of a strategy to continuously provide healthy, nutritious food. But the food system isn’t just a farmers’ market. It’s a farmers’ market providing staple goods from sustainable sources with scaled delivery methods to ensure access to healthy produce is equitable throughout the community.
While at a glance, the term implies a host of moving parts, at its core is the physical market. FFN’s hybrid system of virtual and physical market functions ensures the physical market is always the heart of the system. This is where people meet people and community happens as a key function. But in today’s modern era, time is fleeting. The market needs these component parts to ensure the inclusion of everyone, even those who cannot be there physically.
This is why we define a regenerative food system as being made of three important functions in order to sustain itself and maintain its strength over time. These functions of a truly regenerative food system are:
– Access to the system and the food it provides
– Education on everything from dietary needs, regenerative growing methods, cooking, and even small business management
– Community building tools allowing the market to provide focus on the market and its interactions with the community
Why Build a Regenerative Food System?
Sustainability is the watchword for regenerative food systems. A far cry from commercially recognized “organic” foods, sustainable procurement drives these food systems to become fiscally, environmentally, socially responsible. Everything from how the producer cultivates crops, raises animals, and the methods by which the vendor brings the product to market fall under scrutiny. Buyers can visit their vendors, ask questions, build relationships, and ensure their product has less impact on the environment. Often, they can volunteer at a vendor’s farm or ranch to be a part of the process by which their own food is grown and produced. All of this ensures transparency, a hallmark of the sustainable regenerative food system.
As an integral part of the food-chain’s future, these regenerative systems bring procurement back to the local community. While improving the quality of food, these new systems reduce the need for large scale supply chains and help build local economies with local products. When our clients build their markets on FFN’s unique platform, they create sustainability in their communities by ensuring access to nutritious, sustainable, locally grown produce.
Access Brings Growth and Stability
Many markets see themselves as the beacon of hope we all wish they could be. The reality is, if access isn’t the top priority for your entire food system, your lofty mission statement will never materialize. Though foot traffic in your physical market is high, without online access in today’s chaos, you aren’t reaching all those who really need you. For most people, it’s harder and harder finding the time for your physical market. People know they need healthy food, and they need to access it regularly. But for all of those making it to your market, there are many more who can’t.
Hybrid systems combining your physical market with an online store ensures access to your produce throughout the community. For equitable food systems, this is a critical component. Many of the people your original idea was meant to serve cannot make it to your market. Yet these are the same people who need your market the most. It’s likely that if they aren’t making it to your market, they aren’t making it to any market.
There is good news here though. Those markets who prioritize access to their physical market through online sales have seen tremendous growth. Our experience shows us time and again, customers who pick up their online orders in the market are exposed to other products and vendors who otherwise would not have had the opportunity. More importantly, increased revenue is a clear indication of the importance your market has for providing access to nutritious, healthy food.
Education Builds the Future of Your Market
Like everything else good in life, teaching others to replicate success and innovation ensures your market lasts long into the future. So much hard work goes into running your farmers’ market, it shouldn’t disappear when you’re no longer involved. It should be a legacy providing for your community for generations to come. But just like everything else, if you don’t teach the next generation to build on your market’s work and be innovative, the future never comes.
For most non-profit organizations as well as those markets looking for either donations or grants, a critical component to winning financial awards requires an education program. This education ensures the next generation has the tools necessary to start small businesses built on sustainable growth and production techniques. All of which are geared toward feeding an increasingly vulnerable population. Local education programs are what helped the farmers’ market industry shield itself from the shocks long-chain and corporate farms recently experienced. Those who have made education a pillar of their food system have not only avoided these shocks, but thrive despite them.
Lastly, your market-based food system is a critical link in the over-all food chain developing around you. Whether you espouse the food system philosophy or not, a growing number of markets are jumping on board. As their education efforts grow new generations of growers, there are more and more people involved in the evolving innovation of sustainable farming. Providing education to your community through your food system allows you to let these new ideas, methods, and philosophies permeate to your own next generation producers. It’s how your market secures your community’s ability to access healthy, nutritious food going forward.
Community…The Bedrock of Everything
Let’s face it. Your market, even your food system, begins and ends with your community. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t open your doors. But if it wasn’t for your market, they wouldn’t have doors open to them.
Beyond just providing access, your market needs to engage your community. It needs to provide a focal point of the effort people can point to as the front door of a broad community home. Community building tools such as social media platforms provide even your most marginalized neighborhood with an equal voice. It allows you to hear your community and give equitable room for ideas across all walks of life. When these voices are heard, your food system is community-driven to equitably provide regenerative sustenance.
Our experience shows growing your community on the larger commercial social media platforms is difficult to say the least. But there is no shortcut to building an equitable community environment. A place where your direct competition isn’t offered to your community on your own community site. It needs to be an environment you create, manage, and cultivate the values your market, and your food system represent. This is why Farm Fresh Network provides its own social media platform for markets looking to build a home for their regenerative system.
Nothing good or worth having comes easy. Once it’s achieved or obtained it must be nurtured and protected. Most of the markets we work with and talk to know their community looks to their food system to be one of the strengths of their community. It brings social connection, inspires ideas, and gives today’s increasingly disconnected society a point to reconnect. This isn’t easy to achieve, and once obtained it is a full-time job protecting.
So when we say thrive, we aren’t just talking about your farmers’ market. Thrive is what your community does when your food system is truly regenerative. It means everyone in the community, even the hardest to reach neighborhood, has access to the healthy, nutritious food on a predictable basis. It means your market’s education program is growing growers, educating consumers, and strengthening small businesses. Your community is connected through your market physically and virtually, creating an identity only your market can bring about.
We usually mention this last because it generally goes without saying- markets on Farm Fresh Network who build market-based food systems, contribute to the economic progress in their community. Farmers’ markets with healthy traffic flow in the physical space have second and third order effects on the rest of the community’s economic corridor. Whether the customer is there to pick up goods they bought virtually or to spend the morning perusing, they are more likely to shop at nearby established businesses. Healthy markets are a cornerstone to economically stable communities.
It All Comes Down to the Same Thing
It’s not just a farmers’ market anymore. We say it a lot. While we’re dedicated to supporting markets who simply want to provide an outlet for local vendors to sell their goods. One immutable fact is for sure, your community needs more from your market. Regenerative sustainability is something every community is looking for as the price of commercial goods sky rocket. Every community we’ve spoken to prioritized making their market an outlet for local vendors to provide healthy nutritious food to their entire community. Because the economic and social benefits cannot be ignored in today’s environment.
For many this is the fight, giving the local small businesses a chance to be a staple provider for their community. For the market manager, this fight coincides with an increasing chaos in long-chain commercial food systems. Taken together, this specific time is the right time to go beyond your farmers’ market, and offer something truly sustainable for your community. At Farm Fresh Network we’re ready to help you build your physical market into a truly regenerative food system.
See the Bigger Picture for Your Community
Your community needs more from your market.
So why not harness the power of local regenerative food systems with the Farm Fresh Network?
With our intuitive web design and e-learning environments, create powerful market-based food systems that reach further into your community than ever before.