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      Local food producers play into new online marketplace

      Kristy Boggs, owner of Boggs Family Farm is one of 8 producers active in the Macomb Food Co-Op.

      A local organization is now changing the way you shop for groceries.

      The Macomb Food Co-Op just launched its online marketplace where members can buy locally grown food with just the click of a mouse. But it's not just consumers undergoing a change.

      "In this year of production we've never seen production so much so early," Aaron Ferguson said.

      It wasn't an outlet where Ferguson thought to sell crops when he decided to upgrade his status from hobby farming to full-time producer.

      "This cooperation has helped us have an assurance that this can work as our full time source of income," he said.

      The new online marketplace is now changing the way his farm operates.

      "The co-op provides for a guaranteed market," Ferguson said. "We know on Monday morning what is already sold."

      "They know exactly how many bags of lettuce to put up and how many bunches of radishes to gather and all of that," Margaret Ovitt, the Co-Op chair said. "They don't have to take everything to the market and sit there."

      "We upped out production," he said. "We made plans to produce things even earlier and we're making plans to extend our season nearly year round."

      Right now the online store has eight active producers. Ferguson isn't the only one with big changes in the future.

      "I started off with three pigs I was going to see through the co-op and I wasn't sure how it was going to go of how fast it was going to sell," Kristy Boggs from Boggs Family Farm said. "All the bacon sold old in one week, all the sausage was sold out in two weeks."

      Now, Boggs is raising more pigs to keep up with the online marketplace demand. She says the reason for the success is, convenience.

      "With the co-op you can get pork, chicken, eggs, produce, everything you need you can get in one place," she said.

      Ovitt says in state where we import more than 90 percent of our food, it's important to keep the money local. So co-ops like Macomb's can continue to expand. But even with its growth there is one problem.

      "The quantity and volume, sometimes it's hard to guess how much we'll have, ready for the consumers to purchase," Ferguson said.

      Ferguson says he's up for the challenge.

      "We are at the forefront of what's happening right here in the co-op," he said.