Ways to Save Money

Want to Save 30% on Your Grocery Budget? Check out this Online Farmer’s Market

August 8, 2015
by Susan Shain
Senior Writer

What if you could eat healthier and save money on groceries — while also helping your neighbors, local farmers and our environment?

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Brooklyn-based startup Farmigo is trying to make it happen.

This online farmers market “empower[s] people to create a better way to eat, by creating farm-to-neighborhood access to fresh food, benefiting local farmers and bypassing supermarkets.”

And right now, Farmigo wants to hire people to rally communities around fresh and healthy food in exchange for a commission or hefty discount.

Keep reading for the scoop on this fresh side gig!

How Farmigo Works

Founded in 2009, Farmigo connects farmers and shoppers through an online marketplace. Hungry shoppers can order anything from bread to beef to bok choy from 80-100 farmers located within a day’s drive; then once a week, they pick up their orders from a central site in their neighborhood.

What makes Farmigo different from community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs) is the fact that customers are able to pick and choose what food they want — and how often they want it. One week, you could order arugula and hummus, the next you could order just a pound of tomatoes and the next, you could skip your order entirely.

On the ground to help with the process are Community Organizers, whom Farmigo hires to create communities, accept orders and facilitate the pick-up process. In return, Organizers either get a commission or a huge discount on their own orders.

Farmigo is available in the New York/New Jersey and San Francisco metropolitan areas, with plans to soon expand into Seattle/Tacoma. More than 200 Organizers work in these areas, according to Jack Cashion, Farmigo’s National Organizing Director.

How to Become a Farmigo Organizer

Think you might make a good Organizer? Here’s what Farmigo is looking for:

“Someone who’s passionate about making local food more accessible in their neighborhoods,” explains Cashion. “Someone who loves the farmers market, expanding the range of local food, and finding the way to share the joy of local food with their neighbors in a new way.”

If that sounds like you, Cashion encourages you to visit farmigo.com/start and fill out the brief form — even if you don’t live in one of the areas Farmigo currently services. “Our team is ready and excited to talk to more people,” he says.

David Soberman, a marketing manager who lives in Westchester County, N.Y., became an Organizer because of… salad dressing.

“After moving up to the suburbs from New York City, I found myself missing the farmer’s markets and many specialty goods only available at small shops in the city,” he says.

“I specifically was looking for a ginger dressing made in Brooklyn but the shipping cost was exorbitant for delivering to my home. I found a local public Farmigo pickup site where I could order the dressing among other products. When I heard that an Organizer could donate proceeds towards a school fundraiser, I decided to bring it to my son’s school.”

He found getting started easy, saying, “Farmigo provided a lot of support in terms of marketing, posters, email suggestions, coupons for first orders and a seamless delivery experience.”

He spends four to six hours per week on his organizing duties, which include “sending content and reminder emails, receiving deliveries, sorting deliveries for easier pickup and engaging community members during pickup.”

How Much You Can Earn as a Farmigo Organizer

In return for your work as an Organizer, you’ll earn a 30% discount on your personal order each week. If your community spends over $500 in a week, you can opt for a 70% discount or a 10% commission, paid through direct deposit approximately 10 days after the delivery.

Though, according to Cashion, roughly half the Organizers take or donate the commission, he believes that people are “more rewarded” through the discount model because families “love the food and can really enjoy and celebrate [it].”

“Say you’re spending $100 a week on food for a family of four,” explains Cashion. “If you’re getting 70% off, that’s a huge savings every week.”

Depending on where you usually shop and what you usually buy, shopping through Farmigo — even with the discount — may cost more than you’re used to. In the Brooklyn marketplace, recent prices included:

  • Pint of plums: $5.99
  • Four fuji apples: $2.99
  • Pound of green beans: $4.99
  • Bunch of organic kale: $3.49
  • Eight ounces of grass-fed butter: $4.99
  • A dozen “free running” eggs: $4.99
  • Pound of ground turkey: $6.99
  • Loaf of organic whole grain bread: $4.99
  • Bag of coffee: $10.49
  • Jar of peanut butter: $5.49
  • Tub of hummus: $4.29

If those prices seem expensive, it’s important to remember that not only are you eating healthy food, you’re shopping in a way that better supports your farmers, planet and community.

When you shop at the grocery store, farmers only receive 30%of the price you pay; in comparison, Farmigo farmers get 60-70%, according to founder Benzi Ronen.

And because all of Farmigo’s offerings come from within a day’s drive, you’re reducing your carbon footprint a little bit — not to mention enjoying fresher food, since it was just picked a day ago.

Cashion also stressed that Farmigo strengthens communities by bringing them together each week and fostering “a culture of wellness and healthy eating.”

A popular alternative to the personal discount, for example, is to use the 10% commission as a fundraiser for your school, nonprofit or community center.

As mentioned above, Soberman uses Farmigo to raise money for his son’s school. “Supporting my son’s school with local food options and encouraging families with young children to cook more seemed like a great way to improve the community,” he explains.

With approximately 45 people in his community — 15 of whom order at least every other week — they raise between $50 and $100 weekly, totaling more than $1,200 in the past five months.

Should You Become a Farmigo Organizer?

Working as an Organizer is a “really big deal,” according to Cashion. Organizers become leaders in their neighborhoods by “asking their community to think about a new way of getting food every week, of supporting local farmers, and thinking about how to do so in a sustainable way.”

Soberman agrees. Since he doesn’t earn any money as an Organizer, the intangible benefits matter most to him.

“The best part about being an Organizer is that I would use the service anyways, so I am helping to benefit my community,” Soberman says. “I am encouraging families to support local farmers and cook more often at home with their children!”

Keep in mind that though you may be passionate about healthy eating, not all of your peers may feel the same way. For Farmigo to launch your community, you need at least 10 people to place an order — which can be a challenge. And just because people order once, it doesn’t mean they’ll order every week.

“Some people either just do not cook or aren’t used to cooking with some of the products offered, so they aren’t going to order,” Soberman says. “It can be frustrating when some of your members or even personal friends don’t order!”

If you truly love food and want to share the power of healthy eating with your community, though, it’s unlikely those challenges will prove insurmountable.

“If the passion’s there, the logistics will follow,” says Cashion. “Anyone can do it.”

Your Turn: Do you like the sound of Farmigo? Would you consider becoming an Organizer?

Susan Shain (@Susan_Shain) is a freelance writer and travel blogger who is always seeking adventure on a budget.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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