TOMPKINS CO., N.Y. — More than 400 farms and local food producers in Tompkins, Tioga, Schuyler, Chemung and Cortland Counties now can be found in a new, searchable online directory at https://buylocalfoodny.org/ thanks to the efforts of Cornell University’s South Central NY Ag Team members, with support from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Innovation Grant program and The Park Foundation.
The SCNY Ag Team for many years produced a printed “Guide to Local Foods” for this 5-county region but high production costs kept the run at just 5,000 copies and distribution was limited. And, as with any printed directory, the listings would go out of date soon after publication, reducing the guide’s long term usefulness. Launched earlier in 2019, the new online directory addresses these two problems.
The project differs from other online farm directories in that the Cooperative Extension educators who will maintain the site work closely with local producers, and are well-positioned to know about changes in their products and marketing, so they can ensure that the directory stays up-to-date.
In addition to the searchable farm listings, the site includes a list of farmers’ markets in each of the 5 counties represented, and a “Shopping Tips” tab that offers guidance for shopping at pick-your-own farms, farmers’ markets, CSAs, farm stands and farm stores. A “Save Money” tab offers buying strategies that can help consumers save money while still supporting local producers.
The slogan chosen for this project, “Buy Local: Foods within your Reach”, reflects the intent of the website to inform consumers of ways that local foods can be both geographically and financially “within their reach”. When surveyed, consumers often respond that they don’t know where to find local foods, are unfamiliar with what products are available, and are concerned that local foods are too expensive for them to buy regularly.
“Local foods can offer significant savings,” says Monika Roth of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. “Buying in bulk, buying in season, picking your own produce or joining a CSA can increase the quality and freshness of the farm products you buy while also lowering their cost. Our team believes this website will help consumers find farms and foods nearby and save money by buying strategically.”
Matt LeRoux, Roth’s colleague on the SCNY Ag Team, tracked prices of local farm products and compared them with retail store prices for several seasons and his data show where many bargains can be found. For example, local blueberries and greens were consistently cheaper when purchased directly from the grower than at supermarkets, as was organic produce bought at farmers’ markets. “We want to dispel the exclusivity myth,” says Roth, “and promote buying local as something that the average consumer can afford to do.”
Choice of the web address https://buylocalfoodny.org/ was intentional, Roth says. She and the SCNY Ag Team hope that other Cornell Cooperative Extension associations will sign on and eventually make the directory a statewide resource for New York farm products. Other New York State county extension offices may contact Roth at (607) 272-2290 or email@example.com for more information.
The new directory website and logo were developed by Sharp Notions of Pittsford, New York. Collaborators on the project are members of the SCNY Ag Team in Tompkins, Tioga, Schuyler, Chemung and Cortland Counties.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension
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