A guest post from Katie Quinn-Jacobs:
A new way to connect local farmers and home food processors is on the horizon. Harvestation, an Internet widget, will be piloted this harvest season on the IthaCan website thanks to funding from a Northeast SARE Sustainable Community Grant awarded to Authentrics, Inc. of Ithaca, NY.*
IthaCan is an online social network of home food processors located in Tompkins County, NY. In its first year, the organization has registered 215 members through its website: http://IthaCan.ning.com. IthaCan members share insights & know-how on a brisk-paced discussion board and also meet in each other’s homes to preserve food together.
In addition to do-it-yourself food preservation tips, this consumer sub-group would like to have better access to bulk sales from local farmers. To that purpose, IthaCan is collaborating with Authentrics, Inc. to build a virtual “station” where members can buy farm products online. An Internet widget, like harvestation, is a small portable software device that can be embedded into existing websites.
Harvestation will create an opportunity for farmers to link up with the growing home food processors market using web tools designed specifically for this task. Home food processors require bulk quantities of farm products in order to can, freeze, ferment, dehydrate, and root-cellar food. The harvestation widget will match produce growers and meat producers with food preservers and vice versa.
The advantages for farmers who subscribe to harvestation include reducing off-field time on marketing activities, such as going to farmers' markets, negotiating with retailers for supermarket access, and managing CSAs. Harvestation member farms will have a dedicated webpage to showcase their farms and the system will provide sales tracking reports that can be downloaded from the Internet to a home computer. It will also be Paypal compatible.
To join IthaCan, go to the website: http://IthaCan.ning.com and click on the “Sign Up” box.
*Note: yours truly is working on this grant.