Taken from Ithaca.com – Article by Katherine Clement
Hop on the Town of Dryden website for board meeting minutes, contact information for dog control and now fresh produce from the local farmers. The Dryden Department of Planning created a virtual tour of everything from local farm stands to breweries in and around Dryden on the site’s Virtual Farmers’ Market. Not only connecting farmers with local residents but educating residents about the values of shopping local as well, the Dryden Virtual Farmers’ Market is mapping new terrain for future markets.
“People have suggested the possibility of having a farmer’s market in Dryden for some time,” said Dan Kwasnowski, director of planning for the town of Dryden. “However, from the grower’s perspective, it is more attractive to go to the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. And the Town of Virgil has a market, so in reality a physical farmer’s market doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
The stars aligned for this Virtual Farmers Market, when the Agriculture Program Leader, Monika Roth, at Cornell Cooperative Extension contacted Kwasnowski interested in creating a website and map from a list of local farmers. After extending the list of farmers, Kwasnowski handed over the project to the department’s GIS Tech, Josh Bogdan, to develop the template and icons.
“The site was created to allow farmers of all sizes to market themselves, but also we really wanted local residents to be able to find locally grown and raised food,” said Kwasnowski.
The site includes several farms from Dryden to Brooktondale, CSAs to horse farms, and all types of produce. A map marked with red cow heads, yellow wheat plants, and other variety of icons dot the Tompkins County area offering site goers an overall look at the areas farms. If you’re thinking of testing your green thumb, the site shares the location of local community gardens and contact information. The site encompasses all local produce including meats, eggs, poultry, berries, and breweries.
There seems to be no limit for this site’s abilities to connect local people with local growers and the creators made this even easier for farmers by forming a “Join Our Market” page. Here farmers can change anything on their information page or ask to be added to the site. A series of questions allow farmers to fill out their information and create an easy connection for people to find them.
“There is something really neat about knowing where your food comes from,” said Kwasnowski. “I know a lot of people, and so I know some people who raise pigs. But if I didn’t already know them, then how would I find out where to buy local food?”
Feeding into all forms of social interaction, the site offers a mini twitter feed for farmers to post events and new products. Even with this hip use of social media, the site creators ask for suggestions on how to improve in the “Contact Us” page.
“It isn’t just Dryden,” said Kwasnowski. “Because we’re really trying to provide a service to residents, we wanted to show everything within the region. As word spreads and the information comes in we’ll just keep adding to the website, and we don’t see any need to limit it.”
Whether you’re looking for fresh locally made cheese or need to feed the urge to create a freshly picked blueberry pie, the nearest local dairy farm and u-pick berry farm is now a click away at the Dryden Virtual Farmers Market. For your convenience check out dryden.ny.us/virtualfarm/.