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National Food MarketMaker Program

Membership: 20 states

Organization Focus: Local food system education and support

Years Since Founding: 10

Program Focus: Sharing innovative and best practices among collaborative network partners

With increased national demand for transparency in our food supply chain and the growing local food movement, producers, buyers and consumers are looking for resources to support these interests. The Riverside Research National Food MarketMaker Program is just that – an online farm-to-fork resource, introducing, connecting and organizing food supply systems. With 1.3 million food business profiles, it is one of the largest databases of searchable food industry-related information in the country.

Since it began in 2004, the 20-state MarketMaker Partners Network has brought the virtual resource to many local areas. In each region, growers register their businesses so buyers can easily find them, buyers register to connect to producers that have or are willing to grow what they need, and consumers search for local producers. In addition, universities and policy makers rely on MarketMaker as a tool to learn where food originates, conduct market analyses and identify food deserts, areas devoid of supermarkets or grocery stores selling fresh, affordable food.

We want this competition to challenge the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our Partners Network

Each state in the Partners Network implements programs to grow their database and increase the efficacy of MarketMaker for their local communities. Funded by Farm Credit's National Contributions Program, the MarketMaker Innovation Awards are a way for the national program to showcase the best new ideas: projects that connect producers with food banks, bring consumers who normally purchase at a supermarket directly to local farmers, and use the online data to drive better marketing for producers.

Dedicated to encouraging creativity and sharing best practices, Riverside Research presents the four Innovation Awards at the National Value-Added Agricultural Conference held each spring so partner states and other organizations have the chance to learn about the winning projects. "We want this competition to challenge the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our Partners Network," says Dar Knipe, MarketMaker co-founder. "We also want the winning ideas to be best practices that can be implemented successfully by our network partners as well as other types of organizations."

"The MarketMaker Innovation Award supports our efforts to help Iowa Regional Food Coordinators build stronger local food networks," says Ray Hansen, Director of Value-Added Agriculture Programs for Iowa State University. "Through MarketMaker data management, we have a stronger web presence, improved research capability and more local food transparency."

Riverside Research is also hoping to document the winning ideas so anyone interested can search, find and use the successful ideas and programs the MarketMaker Partners Network have identified.