Farmplicity started as a class project, but in just three short months, it has grown into a very real marketplace for 48 St. Louis restaurants to source food from 52 local farmers. Four Washington University students launched the site in April and celebrated their 100th member today.
"Our goal is to really make selling locally grown food a sustainable business model," says co-founder Jolijt Tamanaha. "Farmplicity saves chefs and farmers a lot of time." Chefs can log on and browse or search for products they need. They then place the items in their shopping cart and pay one invoice, which makes it much simpler and quicker to order from local farms. It also provides the farmers with a network to get their products to many more area restaurants.
Tamanaha tells Gut Check that Farmplicity was inspired by American Meat, which documents the struggles of small farmers. "They can't utilize the same network efficiencies and scale efficiencies that large industrial farms can, and that movie got me to thinking about what we could do for small farmers," she says.
"I realized that if we get them all into once space then you can make ordering from them a lot easier." Tamanaha then met co-founders Drew Koch, Lauren Ortwein and Andrew Lin in an entrepreneurship class at Washington University. Their prototype worked so well that they decided to launch Farmplicity for real.
Next: who utilizes Farmplicity?
All of the farms are within 150 miles of St. Louis, and they hope to turn Farmplicity into a one-stop shop for area chefs. "To source menus locally, they've only got to go on this one site -- which we hope will increase the number of restaurants that participate in the local food movement and that support local, small farmers," Tamanaha says.
St. Louis restaurants including Elaia (1634 Tower Grove Avenue, 314-932-1088) Local Harvest Café (3137 Morganford Road, 314-772-8815) and Winslow's Home (7213 Delmar Boulevard, University City, 314-725-7559) are taking advantage of Farmplicity to get fresh products from places like Heartland Creamery, Three Girls and a Tractor and Wenneman Meat Co. Small operations make up 91 percent of the country's farms, so Farmplicity has the potential to help a lot of people. For more info visit www.farmplicity.com.