If you’re a foodie who loves the Airbnb concept, meet Farmstr.
The one-year-old company aims to be the “Airbnb for local farm food,” founder Janelle Maiocco told Geekwire.
Maiocco grew up on a farm in Bellingham, Wash.,, “I have a passion and understanding of that space,” Maiocco said. “Farmers are my people.”
With $1.3 million in funding, Farmstr is working on the platform that will connect farmers with hungry local consumers.
Even though the farmers market movement is alive and well in many parts of the country, Maiocco says there are still many small-scale farmers looking to connect with consumers. Some farmers drive hundreds of miles to and from farmers markets, and for the small farmer, that’s not always profitable. By taking farm offerings online, like the Airbnb concept, farmers can bypass farmers markets or supermarkets and connect directly with hungry consumers on Farmstr.
“They can post what they have, when they have it,” said Maiocco.
Even though organic food is growing faster than any other food sector, costs can still be prohibitive to some consumers. Through Farmstr, growers can sell produce for a lot less, and that can mean big savings on organic food too. Farmstr profits by a small transaction fee on each order.
Geekwire reports that there are more than 40,000 farmers in Washington state, and according to Maiocco, 90 percent are “smaller operations looking to grow their local customer base.”
Farms selling their food on Farmstr go through a vetting process by the website to ensure that they meet sustainability practice standards. “Because farmers don’t have to pay a retailer extra costs, Maiocco said that 90 percent of the food on Farmstr is cheaper for consumers than at a place like Whole Foods,” reports Geekwire. “Farmers will also make more money, reeling in 80-to-85 cents on each dollar sold from Farmstr, compared to an 11-to-15-cent clip they make when going through a large grocer.”
Currently operating in Washington state, consumers can purchase food through the site and then pick up their products at convenient drop-off locations in Seattle. And other cities are on the horizon too, says Maiocco.
“Helping farmers succeed is a very personal, but very real and viable option,” she told Geekwire. “The market is ripe today in a way that it hasn’t been up until now.”
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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image: Zdenko Zivkovic