Local pastured turkey orders are now available through Maryland-based company called 1000 EcoFarms. Launched this year with the goal of connecting people to farmers, the 1000 EcoFarms website makes it easy to find local producers of any food people love.
November and December are big months for family celebrations – a time when many families want to make outstanding meals. In recent years, more and more people become aware of the benefits of eating locally. Where to start for local food produced by small farms?
A Bethesda, Maryland-based company called 1000 EcoFarms launched this year with the goal of connecting people to farmers. This website makes it easy to find local producers of whatever food people are keen to cook. The service has more than 400 farms in the United States offering sustainably produced, local food.
Parenthood Brings a New Awareness about Food
Company founder Mark Meytin became interested in how food was sourced with the birth of his son who had food allergies. This opened Mark and his wife to a whole new world of questions. “My son’s food allergies forced us to read ingredients on the labels, which I had never done before,” says Meytin. “All of a sudden I realized that some products have a ton of stuff in there. The ingredients could be safe, but I started wondering about it.”
Mark reached out to his childhood friend Gregory Arzumanian and they discussed the idea of making it easier to find and buy locally-sourced food. Mark and Gregory had grown up in Azerbaijan, and left the country as teenagers during the civil unrest in the late eighties. Mark’s family immigrated to the United States where he graduated from University of Maryland and became a software architect. Gregory’s family immigrated to Russia where he finished his education and started a number of businesses. He eventually got interested in new advances in agriculture, and developed a business producing equipment for hydroponic agriculture. Mark and Gregory began to collaborate on 1000 EcoFarms in 2015.
While about 400 farmers on the website are located in the United States, there are an additional 400 farmers in other countries, most of them in Russia. This is why the site can be read in English and Russian. Meytin says farmers from other countries are also starting to register, and the company has plans to expand its services in a number of countries across the world.
“As I started talking to more and more farmers,” says Meytin, “I realized that farmers have a lot of difficulties trying to earn a decent living from very hard work. They work long hours, often develop physical problems, such as back pain, and yet the food is really cheap in the supermarkets. Somewhere there is a disconnect. Beyond helping people buy local food, our second goal is also to serve the farmers and give them an outlet where they can get better prices for the food they produce through the use of technology.”
Helping Farmers by Managing E-Commerce Needs
1000 EcoFarms offers the ability for people to purchase items directly from farmers online. This means farmers do not have to worry about their own websites, spend a lot of time managing their social media accounts, or develop their own e-commerce solutions. This also allows buyers to purchase from more than one farmer easily. It becomes a virtual farmer’s market. Many people say 1000 Eco Farms is “like Etsy for local food.”
“We have now enabled credit card processing on our site,” says Meytin. “Now we are working closely with several individual farmers to help them configure their accounts so they can accept the payments.” While most sales will likely be between buyers and farmers in the same area, Meytin notes that purchases can be made across the country. “There are artisanal items such as certain [dried]mushrooms or honey from a specific flower that might be only available in one part of the country,” says Meytin. “If the farmer is willing to ship those items, people could purchase them through our site. It’s not our primary mission, but it is something people can do.”
Any farm or ranch can list items on the site. All farmers are encouraged to be transparent about how they produce their food, but are not required to be certified organic or have any other types of certifications.
Agro-Tourism – A New Kind of Vacation
Meytin was intrigued to find how many farmers are also offering agro-tourism at their farms and ranches. Agro-tourism is the opportunity to work on a farm or ranch for a day, weekend or longer. The farms usually provide accommodations and educational experiences. Many are family-friendly; some even offer horseback riding. In this way, 1000 EcoFarms can offer a service similar to Airbnb but for farm and ranch experiences. In the future, people could use the site not only to purchase food but to plan vacations.
The Holiday Season is a Time to Eat Local
This year, it is more popular than ever to reach out to a local vendor for holiday food needs through 1000 EcoFarms.
“I was visiting a farmer in Virginia last week and she has amazing pastured turkeys,” says Meytin. “They sell out every year. We have more than 10 growers across the US that still have fresh grass-fed turkeys available for this year’s holiday Thanksgiving celebrations. Now is the time to place turkey orders.”
For updates on the latest offerings from local farms, connect with 1000 EcoFarms at https://www.1000ecofarms.com or on major social media platforms.