North Florida Grows Market -- updated July 13, 2010This online market will enable producers in the North Florida region to advertise products and conduct sales, 24/7.
- The emphasis is on perishable foods, but many other products are eligible.
- There is no limit on the size of order, or the size of vendors and customers.
- It is not limited to organic or chemical-free production, but the method of production must be evident to buyers.
- The market will enable direct sales to local customers, favoring individuals, neighborhood grocers, restaurants, institutions, and community markets.
- First, the market must be ‘sustainable’, meaning that it is not harmful to people, the environment,or the viability of this community.
- Second, the market must be transparent, especially in terms of production and processing. Customers who buy on this site will know where their food is coming from, and something about how it is produced (more below).
Transparency - It is can be very hard for consumers to get answers about how and where foods are grown and processed. By selling food directly and locally the opposite is true. There are many ways to advertise products – photographs, grower profiles and websites, farm histories and descriptions -- it will be clear from our product listings which farmers are organic, chemical free, ‘natural’, etc. We want to take advantage of the internet to build farmer/buyer relationships and take the mystery out of foods. (Note: Growers are required to divulge any proprietary information that is not related to food quality and safety).
Types of Products – Eligible Products - foods (fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, seafood), seedlings, herbs, medicinal plants; value-added products; native plants, nursery plants, ornamentals; compost, soil amendments, and other gardening resources. Ineligible Products - second hand, used, imported, offensive, illegal, undocumented. Items prohibited by members may include genetically modified crops, certain types of chemicals, growth hormones, non-therapeutic antibiotics, irradiated foods.
General Conditions for Vendors and Customers Vendors: This market favors local, sustainable and diversified producers . Retailers, wholesalers, or brokers can use this site, but all items must indicate the original producer. We want to encourage growers to work together in production, storage, processing, marketing and distribution. By doing so they can raise volumes, share information, capitalize equipment, coordinate sales, etc. For example, several growers may work together to lease a refrigerated truck or set up a common site for processing, labeling, storage or pickup. Several producers may be represented at market day by one vendor, as long as sales are still direct and consumers know which farmer they are purchasing from. Value-added producers are not required to purchase all ingredients and materials from local sources. Producers are obligated to complete the online sales transaction by all possible means. The grower may not decide to cancel a customer’s order in favor of a subsequent buyer. However, shortfalls may be caused by various unforeseen factors. At other times, farmers may have larger harvests than anticipated and will bring along surplus for sale or donations.
Customers: The market favors small, local, retail buyers, but does not prohibit any type of customer. However, the larger buyers will not be allowed to divert sales from individuals and smaller entities that make up the majority of customer base. Volume customers can be marked as "Wholesale Accounts". Growers can set special wholesale prices for their products, and the wholesale customers will automatically see those prices in the listings. By default, wholesale customers will go to the end of the line (in favor of retail customers). As with growers, the customers are encouraged to group together as ‘buying clubs’ to facilitate ordering or pick-up, raise quantities, create freezer space, etc. Buyers are liable for the cost of any online orders that they make, unless the grower cannot deliver. Payment is usually made on delivery. Sometimes there must be adjustments to the orders based on unforeseen circumstance. Growers depend on sales and may have no alternative buyers for their perishable items. Also, every change in orders must be back tracked in the accounting.
How the Market works:
Joining –Growers can apply online or by mail. NF GROWS will do a quick review to confirm that the applicant’s expectations are consistent with our basic principles. Above all we are looking for a collaborative marketing environment. Once the account is activated growers can begin to post products. The success of this market will depend on how well members get along and the values they share. Growers get their own "About" page and a photo gallery, with unlimited photos and captions. Production methods and certifications, such as USDA Organic or Certified Naturally Grown, will be prominently displayed.
Posting products – Vendors complete a form for posting products that is available on the website. Initially, NF Grows staff will be entering this data, but that process will be automated in the future. The product categories are set up by NF Grows, with new categories added as new items are posted. Vendors can include full descriptions, images, pricing details, and any other information about each product. Market managers can quickly adjust availability, pricing, and other items at any time. Growers edit their own products at any time via updated postings.
Ordering - Ordering is very simple. Customers can place their orders online, or, if they are unable, market managers can do it for them. The market manager is able to edit and adjust individual orders and individual items within the order. This includes price adjustments, credits, etc. Confirmation emails go out to both the customer and the manager as orders are completed, and summaries are mailed to vendors each month. Customer orders can be adjusted after the fact through the website to account for rejections, shortages, credits, etc. Vendor inventories (units in stock) are adjusted automatically based on the amounts ordered.
Broker Fees: *** Topic under discussion *** We are going to employ an unusual business model and request that vendors provide a monthly donation to NF Grows to cover our expenses. A 2% to 5% donation is requested. This donation can be made by check or other payment method on a monthly basis, based on recorded online sales for that month. Our expenses include initial investment and services related to marketing management and support: setting up vendor profiles; facilitating postings, orders, and delivery information; and all other administrative expenses. Members will initially receive help from the NF GROWS staff with the learning curve of posting products, creating vendor profiles, adding documentation, labeling packages, and other tasks. NF GROWS may provide additional services such as distribution, posting products, and personal web services, but those are extra costs that will be billed separately.