Locally Sourced aims to give Torontonians an easy way to find nearby drop-off spots for farm shares.
Torontonians have access to a wide variety of farm-fresh meat and produce, but it can be hard to know how to get it. A new website, Locally Sourced, hopes to make it easier for city residents to find downtown drop-off spots for farm shares.
Locally Sourced’s founder Steve Benjamins joined his first farm share about two years ago and quickly became a fan. A farm share, also known as community-supported agriculture (or CSA) is an arrangement between farmers and consumers: the consumer pays the farmer a set fee, and in return gets a regular supply of the farm’s output, say in the form of weekly boxes of seasonal produce, or meat and dairy from animals. The prices, arrangements, and offerings vary from farm to farm.
As Benjamins promoted CSAs to his friends, he discovered that not everyone was in the know about them. “They’re a little bit challenging sometimes to find and join,” Benjamins said, “and the reason is that most farmers tend to do farm shares for people who are already in their social circle.” So Benjamins set about creating a resource that would allow people to find farm share drop-offs near them without having to do a lot of legwork.
The site is easy to use: you can narrow down nearby farm-share drop offs by zooming into a map, which covers downtown Toronto. It’s also possible to narrow down the results by selecting a preferred pick-up day, and to search for shares that provide only produce or only meat. For each farm share, users can see more information, including photos and contact information for the farmers. The farmers themselves have been enthusiastic as well, Benjamins said, despite his initial concerns that they’d be worried about competition. “I get the sense that the farming community is very supportive of each other,” he said, “and you can see that in this project.”
Though the site covers just the city’s downtown so far, it already offers buyers dozens of optoins. “You could live in the Annex for a long time without realizing that a block away there’s a farmer coming every week to drop off farm shares,” Benjamins said.