By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff
When COVID-19 hit, it was not uncommon for shoppers at many grocery stores to find nearly empty shelves. At the time, George Duggan had no idea how much the pandemic would also impact his business. A veteran of Internet marketing for over 20 years, specializing in registering domain names and websites, Duggan is the founder of EatFromFarms.com.
“I always had an interest in the local food movement, and eating healthy,” Duggan said.
Out of that interest came the idea of EatFromFarms.com.
“Seven years ago, we launched the website and on-line farm store builder,” he said. “We currently serve over 150 farms and are still growing, helping them create websites and on-line stores.”
Headquartered in the Albany, New York area, eatfromfarms.com is a family business that initially started helping farmers in the Northeast United States, but now has helped farms all across the country, as far away as Alaska, and also up into Canada. EatFromFarms.com was designed for farmers, ranchers, artisan food vendors, and market managers to use for themselves. It is a simple and easy to use tool that does not require the need for technical staff. The platform provides direct sale food vendors with a combination of food related features that are not found in a typical shopping cart systems.
“Consumers are doing more and more food shopping on-line since the pandemic hit,” Duggan said. “EatFromFarms.com allows them to shop from the farm store each individual farmer creates, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Farmers list their inventory, and the system adjusts the available inventory as customers place orders.”
The system integrates a personalized website with an online farm store and shopping cart feature. If a farm already has a website, then the EatFromFarms.com store and shopping cart can be directly linked to the existing site.
Unique to the software is the direct from farm food sales driven shopping cart.
“Farmers can easily manage their inventory in real time,” Duggan said. “It also has features that allow for products of varying weights. That is a feature not found on standard on-line shopping carts. This is helpful for farmers selling meat by the pound, for example, with cuts that naturally have differing weights. It also allows for individual prices, and even product bundles.”
The platform also allows for online farmers markets, sub-vendor accounts, and even buying clubs like consumer supported agriculture (CSAs).
When farmers set up their website and on-line farm store, they can offer their customers different payment options, such as cash, check, credit card, or even a buyers account. There are different delivery options customers can select from such as on farm pick-up, local market delivery, or home delivery. The platform also has features that provide automated picklists to fulfill orders, schedules, and it can generate sales reports.
“We have helped all size farming operations,” Duggan said. “Most of our users are probably considered smaller scale farms, and typically are already doing some direct marketing, but may not have an on-line presence. Farmers are using eatfromfarms.com to sell fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, poultry, eggs, dairy products, baked goods, honey, syrup, and everything else you would find at a farmers market.”
In the future, Duggan sees a growing demand for local foods, and desire for customers to be able to shop local with the convenience of doing it on-line.
“There has been a re-birth in the idea of purchasing local, even before the pandemic hit,” Duggan said. “People have discovered the quality and taste that comes with locally produced food direct from the farm.”
For more information, visit www.eatfromfarms.com