Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois is now open for farmers, farmers markets, and local food businesses looking to expand their customer base and connect with more Illinois shoppers.
As the order to stop normal operations amid the COVID-19 outbreak continues, Illinois farms, as well as food and beverage businesses along the supply chain, are seeking new and innovative ways to reach customers. One new resource in Illinois that can help alleviate this disruption is Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois, a new statewide local food promotional program.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois features a searchable online database of local food businesses, an annual print directory, and year-round media campaigns to promote local food. This new program is powered by a coalition of the leading food and farm organizations and agencies across the state. By combining resources, energy, information, and funding, the coalition aims to create a single go-to local food resource for customers.
A beta version of the online database launched on April 6th and registration is now open to farms, farmers markets, farm-to-table restaurants, local food cooperatives and retailers that carry local farm products. The online database features new user-friendly technology that allows shoppers to search for local food by product, farming practice, and proximity. This technology was created through a collaboration between the National Buy Fresh Buy Local program and the tech company MarketMaker; Illinois is the first chapter in the nation to pilot the new technology, with additional chapters expected to follow suit in 2021.
“Our local farmers and food retailers know how to grow and prepare high-quality, delicious foods. Given current events, and the need to source and support local now more than ever, we are determined as a coalition to launch Buy Fresh Buy Local right away, even though we’re still in the beta testing mode for the consumer-facing portion of our website,” says Molly Gleason with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “We intend for this directory and website to not only be a robust, well-marketed directory of food businesses, but also a statewide community where farmers and local food-focused businesses can network, share ideas, and support each other. We need that support now more than ever, but we also know that the directory will take some time to populate with producer profiles. We encourage consumers to share this opportunity with their favorite local farmers and food retailers! Our goal is to grow the local food economy, and support our valued local producers not just now, during the uncertain times, but all year long.”
Participating businesses can get listed for free in the online directory and can be included in the print directory for a small fee. The registration deadline to be included in the print directory is June 1st. Local food businesses that register before May 15th will receive savings on a premium listing in the print directory.
Shoppers can begin using the website to search for local food in their area and have the opportunity to provide feedback on the beta version of the site.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois is a non-profit endeavor and opportunities are available for organizations and companies to support this effort.
Learn more at www.buyfreshbuylocalillinois.org.
For more information about Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the national Buy Fresh Buy Local, please contact email@example.com.