Internet offers new pastures for farmers selling produce

March 26, 1997

From Correspondent Greg Lefevre

(CNN) -- Farmers are reaping the benefits of technology, linking up with customers to sell their organic crops over the Internet.


Many American farmers like Nigel Walker are discovering new pastures online -- a field that offers almost unlimited access to new customers.

Eatwell Farm is located near the heavily Internet-wiredSan Francisco Bay Area. In fact, one half of Walker's business comes to him over the Internet.

"We found that a lot of our customers in San Francisco have e-mail too and it was fun, something different. It's kind of just grown," Walker says.

At the click of a finger, customers have access to a large variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts herbs and spices that vary with seasonal availability.

Basket of Produce

Customers can order baskets of produce by visiting the Eatwell Farms web page. The Internet site has a calendar of available crops and an order form where customers decide how much and for how many weeks they want the crops delivered.

Cucumbers and summer squash are available for customers in the spring season. The summer season will bring multiple crops including over 26 varieties of tomatoes.

Customers enjoy the interaction that the Internet allows.

"They solicit what we would like to see for the next crops," says Internet customer Andy Hrenyo. "They ask us what we would like to see grown."

Other farmers publish extensive recipes on the Eatwell Farms Website from legumes to leftovers.

Art Siegel says the recepies offer helpful ideas for new ingredients. "If they send you some leafy green that you've never heard of, you have some good ideas where to start to cook them, " he said.

"Having a Web site and access to tools like the Web site can really help them make better connections with people in urban areas that are going to support them, " said Judith Community Alliance for Family Farmers, an agriculture nonprofit group.

Some struggling farmers have turned to direct Internet selling to receive higher prices than they would at wholesale - the difference between farming and folding.

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