Karen and Jake Fairbairn had just put a creamery into their barn. Their business, Lazy Crazy Acres, was only a baby when Hurricane Irene hit in August of 2011.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s (NOAA) Hurricane Irene statistics, flood records were broken in 26 rivers—ranging from New Jersey to New York and Vermont—and about 9 million people were without power. Economic experts have estimated up to $7 billion in overall damages.
“We had just taken out a $120,000 loan,” said Karen Fairbairn, whose company made ice cream and sold berries and eggs. Then Irene came and the power went out for seven days. They lost their entire inventory.
To add insult to injury, the only bridge in the area washed out (it is still not fixed), and stores and farmer’s market locations were destroyed, making selling products next to impossible. “Everything sort of came to a halt,” said Fairbairn.
Then, the Fairbairn’s received an email from FarmPlate.com, offering one year of free online marketing to farmers and small food-related businesses affected by Irene. Listing over 35,000 businesses across the country, FarmPlate aims to connect farmers, fishermen, foragers, food artisans, restaurants, markets, distributors and foodies. They decided to extend a helping hand to families and businesses like the Fairbairns, who suffered damage from the storm.
When she received the email from FarmPlate, Fairbairn accepted the offer with open arms. “I was like, ‘Heck yeah!” she exclaimed, “Yes, please!’”
The Fairbairns, and others using the free service, are able to build a profile online with photos, menus, lists of producers, places customers can buy products, and other businesses close to them. “FarmPlate is about building a local food ecosystem,” explained Jeff Gangemi, Director of Partnerships and Communications for FarmPlate.com. “The more we help individuals, the more it helps the entire system.”
Thus far, only six small businesses have taken up FarmPlate’s free offer. Gangemi said that FarmPlate would love to spread the word and get more businesses signed up if they need help.
“FarmPlate’s mission is to help sustainable food businesses expand their markets,” says Kim Werner, founder and president of FarmPlate.com. “They are the engine of local food systems, and we are committed to contributing to their health in any way we can, especially after the devastation they experienced from Irene.”
To learn more about FarmPlate’s free offer, click here.