Good news for those of us without a convenient neighborhood CSA: Overstock.com is now offering “straight from the farm” items delivered direct to your home via a new online “farmers market.”
The idea is not as completely ridiculous as it sounds. And it’s certainly not meant to replace the experience of heading down to the park to buy tomatoes off a truck and taste organic wine. Instead, Overstock.com is simply hoping to expand the reach of existing CSAs.
In speaking with Modern Farmer, CEO Patrick Byrne explained: “A lot of the CSAs don’t have good technology…. We’ve kind of supercharged [the CSA model] with our technology and our marketing efforts.” To get farmers on board, the company began cold-calling CSAs from a list of around 1,800 names they had obtained from the Department of Agriculture. When Overstock.com’s Farmers Market site launched last month, over a dozen farms were signed up servicing cities like San Francisco, Austin, Richmond and Atlanta. Byrne truly believes the trend will catch on, predicting the site will be able to reach 99 percent of the country by March of next year.
The idea of broadening the community of community-supported agriculture via the Internet might seem counterintuitive, but Overstock.com insists their intentions are good. “If this works, we can disrupt that corporate agri-business supply chain,” Byrne pointed out. So far it seems to be working. Right now the biggest problem is that CSAs are selling out of shares way ahead of schedule.