October 2, 2014
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) unveiled new and updated tools to help consumers, producers, and community leaders find local food sources in their region.
As part of the ongoing Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, AMS presented new directories for three different types of local food sources and an updated version of its popular farmers market directory:
• The National Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Enterprise Directory will help consumers track down farms or farming networks offering local food product deliveries.
• The National Food Hub Directory will help consumers, producers, and interested institutions locate food hubs that help local farmers aggregate to meet greater demand.
• The National On-Farm Market Directory will show consumers where they can purchase local food products on the farm at which they were produced.
• The National Farmers Market Directory will show members of the public the various farmers market options in their community.
The tools allow users to search for local food sources within a set distance from their zip code. Users can also sort by state, products available, or payment methods accepted—including cash, check, credit card, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The farmers market directory allows users to find markets open in the winter. Once a local food source has been selected, the directory provides operating hours and directions.
The directories are compiled using a voluntary, self-reporting process. To date, 545 CSAs, 115 food hubs, and 1,105 on-farm markets are listed in each respective directory. The significantly older farmers market directory—which receives about two million hits annually—boasts 8,337 markets for users to browse.
Undoubtedly, the CSA and on-farm market directories are currently significantly underpopulated. Readers and sustainable agriculture organizations at the state and local level may want to inform their contact lists and memberships about the new opportunity to be listed in these USDA directories.
AMS is hopeful the three new directories meet with the same success as the farmers market directory. Adding an operation to the directories is an entirely online process on the AMS Directory Registration and Update page.
Categories: Local & Regional Food Systems