With more than 210 farms within a 100-mile radius of the city, according to Co-founder Jesse Mayhew, social marketplace CitySprout chose Austin as its second city to launch the online resource that links communities with local farms.
Mayhew said Austin also stood out because of its long growing season, a population that cares about eating local and organizations such as the Sustainable Food Center that promote local food.
“Austin was one of the most supportive cities of sustainable agriculture,” Mayhew said.
CitySprout first launched in summer 2011 in western Massachusetts in Pioneer Valley with other pilot programs in Brooklyn and Boston. Mayhew said the site went live for Austin in mid-October, and staff have been actively promoting it in December.
Users can search by ZIP code for communities near their homes or businesses to join for free, or if one is not available, they can create their own. About 45 communities have already been started throughout Austin as well as in Cedar Park and Round Rock. Communities that have been growing rapidly include Bouldin Creek in South Austin, Anderson Mill and Hyde Park.
Once a user has signed up and joined a community, he or she will receive emails from farmers and food producers for offers. Mayhew said that in Austin, offers have included anything from duck eggs and dairy products to meat and vegetables. A coffee roaster and a pie maker have joined as food producers, he said.
“It has really run the gamut,” he said.
Farmers and food producers are able to use the site to offer their products to communities. Mayhew said they have great flexibility with being able to post a photo and description of their product, then set their own prices, delivery points and times. He said this is CitySprout's benefit to weekly farmers markets.
“We hope to help and aid the same farms utilizing the farmers markets,” he said, adding that CitySprout staff has been reaching out area farmers market vendors about the site.
New users of the site will also receive tools such as prewritten emails to invite neighbors, coworkers and friends to join, and users are able to request free materials such as door hangers and fliers.
Mayhew said Austin companies have also expressed interest in starting private communities just for their employees; interested companies may contact him at 413-341-8250.
For more information on CitySprout, visit www.citysprout.com or follow the company on Twitter: @ctysprout.