Website for local farms to go live in May

By Leah Nicolini

DeKalb | Local farmers will have a new way to market and sell their products when the website Buy Local DeKalb goes live in May.

Buy Local DeKalb will feature the products of 63 farmers and looks to increase communication between local producers and consumers with an events page that allows producers to post information about events like farmers markets on the site.

Sycamore farmer Kate Whitacre, 31, who harvests more than 60 kinds of vegetables from bok choy to turnips, said she has an easier time growing food than marketing it.

“Learning how to sell your product is the hardest part of being a farmer,” Whitacre said. “I spend at least 10 hours a week marketing my farm.”

Patty Ruback, Buy Local DeKalb initiative leader, teamed up with Cameron Wills, second-year instructional technology graduate student, after meeting at the Code Across DeKalb event on March 5 at the Founders Memorial Library.

Code Across DeKalb was open to NIU students, DeKalb community residents and experts from Code for America to learn and participate in coding and community problem solving, according to its Eventbrite page.

Ruback said her goal for the website is to help consumers find places to purchase organic food and encourage people to buy locally.

The website has a map that extends 50 miles beyond DeKalb to locate farms that sell home-grown products like vegetables, honey, meat, alcohol and fruit. In addition to the location of the farm, the site includes the contact information of the farmers.

Both Ruback and Wills said they enjoy purchasing and eating locally grown food and would like to see DeKalb have a website dedicated solely to local foods. Ruback started a Facebook page to facilitate the communication between growers and consumers but wanted a comprehensive website that could serve the same purpose.

“[The Buy Local DeKalb website] will make it easier for people to get involved with local food,” Wills said. “There’s a lot of great resources.”

Nine local farmers are coming together for a meet and greet with community members at 5 p.m. April 22 at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway. There is a door charge of $5 and participants can enter a raffle to win baskets of locally grown food. The money earned will help cover the cost of creating the Buy Local DeKalb website, Ruback said.