Farm & Garden

FamilyFarmed Software Aids Local Produce Distribution

February 24 2012 - 10:49 AM

At a panel discussion about local food at Kendall College a few months ago, many farmers and butchers stressed that the biggest obstacle toward creating a large-scale local food movement was the distribution system. While Cisco or Aramark might feel pressure from consumers and businesses to supply them with locally-raised produce and meat, an inadequare infrastructure and lots of bureaucratic red tape made it difficult to scale up from the farmer's market level to a state or regional level. Now, FamilyFarmed has taken on one piece of that equation: simplifying the paperwork required for small farmers to sell to large companies. The Chicagoist reports that new software from FamilyFarmed streamlines the process, and helps local farmers compete with industrial farms.

Large corporate buyers require lots of documentation from their suppliers: information on health code adherance, food safety certification, and operation specificifications. To a family farmer who already has his or her hands full with the day-to-day work of running a farm, adding a mound of paperwork to the top of the "to do" list is nearly impossible. Jim Slama, president of FamilyFarmed, tells The Chicagoist that farmers said, "Either I have to do something I'm not able to do, or pay someone five grand to do it."

In stepped FamilyFarmed, partnering with the USDA to create, a resource for farmers to develop a food safety plan that is acceptabe to large distributors. After filling out the guided forms online, small-scale farmers will be one step closer to selling their produce to larger markets, meaning that more people on a wider scale can have access to food grown safely and locally. While the website still isn't a piece of cake, it's progress in the right direction.

To see FamilyFarmed in action, you'll want to attend the Good Food Festival in Chicago on March 15-17. Details are available on their website.

–Kate Bernot