Tri-States sees new online Farmers' Market - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tri-States sees new online Farmers' Market

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Thursday is Ag Day 2012, where, nationwide, groups are raising awareness of the vital role agriculture plays in people's lives.

As a sign of changing times, one new website claims to be the first online Farmers Market in Illinois, and it's based in the Tri-State area.

Dorian Dickinson is the site's co-developer and a partner in his company Great River Creative, LLC.

"With broadband being the great equalizer for rural communities, this gives the residents and the farmers and the operators within the rural communities, the opportunity, really, to reach into the metropolitan areas," he said.

After Dickinson spoke at the 2011 American Farm Bureau Federation's Rural Development Conference, an idea struck him.

"We tried to look at the rural nature and the agricultural background of this area and put together the idea for an online Farmers Market as well as agri-tourism initiatives," he said.

Great River Creative, LLC. set up an online Farmers' Market and Jo Daviess County, Illinois agri-tourism site.

"Farmers are operating with fewer people on the farm now. It's impossible for them to be at eight farmers markets in the region on one day," Dickinson said. "This gives them that opportunity to reach more consumers."

The online market launched this week. Right now, it's a virtual directory of local growers and producers, but Dickinson said he hopes it will continue to expand.

"We see this being able to expand beyond Jo Daviess County into the entire Tri-State region," he said. "What we're trying to do is facilitate that arrangement between the consumer and the provider."

Some growers in the directory said they don't plan on shipping any of their goods but they appreciate the exposure and continue to welcome people to their locations and in-person Farmers' Markets.

The agri-tourism site also has a list of live Farmers' Markets.

"It's really an enhancement to the physical farmers markets that we have here," Dickinson said of the online market. "It allows the farmer that's showing at the farmers market to reach more people, to also draw more people to the farmers market for them to come pick up the products they've ordered during the week online as well."

Other sites use different ways of connecting producers with consumers. The Iowa Valley Food Co-Op, for example, allows visitors to browse an online selection of good and, if a person is a co-op member, actually place orders online.

It's all part of a growing integration of ag and Internet.

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