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How Local Line Helped This Chicago Food Hub Sell Online

Taste of Eden Market was started out of necessity.

Based in Waukegan, Illinois, they offer farmers and customers a chance to connect over local food. Their online food hub sells a variety of different products directly from the farmer’s field to the customer’s door, bolstering the regional food system.

We spoke with Michael J. Brankin, Chief Executive Officer at Taste of Eden Market and Executive Director at Eden Restoration Project, to learn more about his experience running an online food hub with Local Line:

 

Operating first as a non-profit organization, The Eden Restoration Project, the Taste of Eden Market was created to help out the farmers in their community. The Eden Restoration Project was formed in 2018 to help increase community access to fresh food. In the past few years, they have started over 12 community gardens with over 17 acres of growing space. They worked with a variety of different farmers in their community, who donated plants and seedlings to their gardens.

“And when COVID started hitting [our area] and all the other farmers' markets were being canceled. That was [the farmers’] major path to sell food. [The farmers] said we don't know what we're going to do. We don't know if we're gonna have a business in a couple of months. 

We, [at the Eden Restoration Project] had been throwing around this idea of doing a straight from Farm to Table delivery service. There were a couple out there, but nothing that seemed real convenient for the farmer, so we decided that we'll put it up online.”

Starting with their online food hub on Local Line in early 2020, Taste of Eden Market now serves over 300 customers in 20 different delivery zones. They have over 25 different vendors who sell a variety of fresh, local products. 

Getting set up was easy! “The day we got it up and launched, we started getting orders, which is kind of bizarre. And even new vendors, when I bring them on, they'd get orders within the first two hours before I could even fix all their products. Within the first hours, they were getting orders,” shares Michael. 

Now well into Year Two, the farmers and community love their online food hub. Having a place to buy and sell local food in the Chicago region is offering both parties alternative ways to support local.

“There are a lot of people who want local food. [For farmers] getting their stuff out there, making the food, and trying to do all the websites and trying to do delivering—it's almost impossible. It bankrupts most farmers because they just can't do it all. That accessibility that [Local Line] offers where just like, wow, this is just like Amazon shopping, but I know where my stuff is coming from, you know, you can order from Whole Foods and you think is local. But you can't pick the farm,” explains Michael. 

“So where are you going to buy your eggs from? I don't know, whoever tells the best story, or whoever you want to support. To me, I think that’s powerful. You can pick the farm that you’re shopping at.”

Join many other food hubs that sell online, like Taste of Eden Market, with Local Line! To listen to the whole conversation, check out our video chat with Michael above.

 


 

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