The region's online farmers market is pulling the plug this month.
Administered by the economic-development organization Thrive, Rogue Valley Local Foods is closing for lack of grant funding that supported it, executive director Wendy Siporen said. The final orders at www.roguevalleylocalfoods.com will be taken Friday, Dec. 13, through Tuesday, Dec. 17, for pickup Thursday, Dec. 19.
"We just didn't have the volume," said Siporen.
Launched in June 2010, the market was designed to assist small farmers with direct sales while appealing to customers who otherwise couldn't shop at local farmers markets. Thrive plans to shift the effort to wholesaling locally grown produce to grocery stores, markets and food cooperatives, Siporen said. That project will be funded by Meyer Memorial Trust and the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant, she said.
Since Rogue Valley Local Foods' debut, new farmers markets — Saturdays in Medford and Sundays in Jacksonville — and retailers, such as Medford Food Co-op, have opened. Additionally, more farmers offer community-supported agriculture shares during the winter.
Those outlets, said Siporen, largely meet small farmers needs that Thrive identified as part of the Southern Oregon Farmer Incubator project in collaboration with Oregon State University Extension Small Farms and Rogue Farm Corps with funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation. Rogue Valley Local Foods brought more than $140,000 to the local food economy, she said, calling it a "learning experience."
Rogue Valley Local Foods represents 58 of the region's small farmers, ranchers and artisan-food producers.
Based in Ashland, Thrive (The Rogue Initiative for a Vital Economy) is a nonprofit group that advocates for local food and its local business members. It publishes the annual Rogue Flavor guide to local food resources, serves on the Rogue Valley Food System Council and organizes the September Eat Local Challenge.
For more information, see www.buylocalrogue.org.
— Sarah Lemon