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Purdue University, Microsoft Partner To Create Free Online Farmers Market

By Samantha Horton, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture, Business, Health, Technology
A customer purchases produce at the 2018 Columbus farmers market. (Lauren Bavis/Side Effects Public Media)
A customer purchases produce at the 2018 Columbus farmers market. (FILE PHOTO: Lauren Bavis/Side Effects Public Media)

Farmers around Indiana have faced challenges marketing their products to potential buyers, and the coronavirus pandemic made the problem worse. A joint effort between Purdue University and Microsoft will help connect local farmers directly to customers online.

The Hoosier Food Market is an online platform for Indiana farmers to list their produce for sale.

Rather than charging the farmers to participate in the online market, the website will act as a bridge connecting farmers to people and help compliment in-person farmers markets.

“So let’s say I’m a consumer and I want to find who sells tomatoes in Indiana,” said Ariana Torres, Purdue University professor and project co-leader. “I’m able to go to that website and find the vendors and pay for it and probably get delivery to my house.”

She said the new market will help farmers be more efficient and help maintain local economies that have already been hurt by COVID-19.

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“Before a farmer would harvest anything that was ready to harvest and they would bring to the market hoping that everything got sold,” said Torres. “Once I have an online platform, I already know my demand, so I know how to package it and I know how to make it, my system, more efficient. So that increases the likelihood of success of any small and medium size farmer.”

Also, farmers with any perishables will be able to make more calculated decisions.

“I think having different options for different segments of consumers is going to be very important for the success of any business, especially the business of perishable foods. Because those foods when you harvest them, you have to sell them,” said Torres.

She said the program has been in the works for months, but the coronavirus pandemic increased the urgency.

Microsoft and Purdue have also recently collaborated on another project examining the impacts of COVID-19 on food supply chains.

Contact reporter Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.