With the autumnal equinox approaching on September 22 – and a rich cornucopia of sweet potatoes, squash varietals, cilantro, shishito peppers, garlic, curly kale, and other produce now reaching their peak in New England – grocers, food co-ops, and farmers are tapping new solutions to make the bounty of the season more widely available to all.
Today, Forager™, which launched on the first day of the Spring Equinox to help grocers and farmers tap into the soaring demand for fresh, healthy, local food, announced that it is helping to catalyze this movement throughout New England. Founded by serial technology entrepreneur David D. Stone, Forager has pioneered an online and mobile B2B procurement-to-payment platform that reduces the time and significant costs of local food sourcing – of particular importance in the fall when nature’s harvest on full display and as 40 percent of consumers shop for local food each week. That’s especially true this season, as Forager grows its customer base from Maine and reaches into Vermont and New Hampshire, as well. The company now has more than 150 local farmers and producers and 17 grocers, food co-ops and wholesalers on the platform.
“Here at Forager, the incredible richness of local, fresh produce on full display during the fall season is an important reminder for us of the value of our mission, to reduce our dependency on big industrial agriculture, improve our environmental impact, help small farms make a comeback, make us healthier, and bring people together,” said David Stone. “Our expansion in New England is a testament to the demand we are helping to meet.”
“Forager is a key partner in our mission to provide ‘good food from people you know,'” said John Naylor, co-owner, Rosemont Market in Maine. “Because of the platform, it’s easier and more efficient to source from local farmers and build relationships with new ones. In fact, approximately 22 percent of our produce is now sourced through Forager and we plan to expand to meat, dairy, and other locally produced items, especially as we expand the number of our stores to six and possibly more.”
Already Forager has been recognized as a top technology startup poised to transform the local food sourcing market and become a household name, according to the Forbes Technology Council, made up of leading CIOs, CTOs and executives. In addition, Fast Company magazine highlighted Forager in its May “United States of Innovation” issue, for the potential of its technology to have a national impact. Investors, too are jumping in, including a recent round of funding from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Maine.
“The fall harvest provides a bounty of local produce to choose from and can often be overwhelming for produce buyers, but with Forager, our produce buyer can complete her orders in a more organized, efficient manner,” said Shawn Menard, general manager, Gardiner Food Co-op in Maine. “There is a tremendous amount of value for producers and retailers using Forager as a tool to increase and sharpen the local food industry. As a small and new food co-op, we have only scratched the surface of Forager’s functionality, and look forward to the future knowing that we’re all in it together.”
“As a new farmer, we have been impressed by the ease of use of Forager and would highly recommend it to any farmer that sells to a market, as it is a significant time saver,” said Elizabeth Robinson, owner, Finn & Roots in Vermont. “With Forager, each week I receive an email order from the markets and another reminding us to update our produce availability, which allows us to quickly let the markets know what’s seasonally available from our farm.”