Envisioning a Local Market Food System

Lulus Local Food provides an innovative software solution for operating online farmers markets and food hubs.  This progressive program has been designed to serve as an online tool for establishing a local market food system.  The growth of this program allows for fundamental change to take place in how food is sourced in local communities.
Expanding in urban and rural areas alike, Lulus Local Food is building local markets and establishing small food hubs in communities throughout Virginia and Montana and neighborhoods in-between. Bring a Lulus Local Food hub to your area.

Powered by VA FAIRS

Lulus Local Food is a program of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability, a Virginia 501C3 nonprofit organization.

Special Day for Lulus, VFBF receives national award for marketing software for farmers

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Virginia Farm Bureau Federation was one of six state Farm Bureaus honored for innovation Jan. 7 with an American Farm Bureau Federation New Horizon Award.
VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor accepted the award, which recognizes a direct-marketing program of the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability, or VA FAIRS. The award was presented during the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention.
Created in 2004 and spearheaded by VFBF, VA FAIRS is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist rural agricultural enterprises. The foundation offers technical and business development services for producers transitioning from commodity production to value-added and to those expanding existing value-added businesses. VA FAIRS’ areas of expertise are strategic planning, feasibility studies, business plans, marketing plans and assistance with grant applications.
In 2016, the foundation began marketing Lulus Local Food, an innovative direct sales, inventory and marketing software program for farmers and food hubs. Once licensed to use the secure, cloud-based software, farmers can easily coordinate direct market sales to individuals or through local food hubs.
“The software allows farmers and businesses to get sales started with little to no up-front investment,” said Molly Harris, who created Lulus Local Food with the help of VA FAIRS in 2008. She said the program “allows fundamental change to take place in how food is sourced in local communities. We are seeing an increase in direct marketing sales, especially in areas that may not have access to local foods otherwise. The software allows food hubs to provide access to online inventory that is easy for farmers to update and manage from the field, and tracks sales data from season to season.”
Chris Cook, VA FAIRS executive director and VFBF assistant director of rural development, said the program helps promote local food and product sales year-round, especially during months when farmers’ markets traditionally are closed.
“We hope this will become an economic development driver where Lulus is used by helping connect farms with a greater number of consumers and increasing employment in those areas.”

Our Roots

Lulus Local Food was founded in October of 2008 when the first online hub, Fall Line Farms opened serving retail customers in Richmond, Virginia. The hub initially ran weekly sales representing a dozen farmers to over 100 families through Excel spreadsheets and email. In the spring of 2009 the first software platform was launched allowing the hub to grow to serve hundreds of farmers reaching thousands of customers throughout the metropolitan area.
Today with the support of VaFAIRS, the Lulus Local Food software has been redesigned to be licensed to hubs across the state as well as to individual small farms looking for a web presence and direct online sales marketplace.

Lulus Local Food, an innovative solution for direct market sales

Lulus Local Food provides an innovative solution for direct market sales on a secure, expandable cloud environment. The software has an in-depth financial reporting system with multiple payment options that is supported by a professional system support staff. Our eCommerce solution is constantly coming out with high value enhancements that expand small farm opportunities to access direct market retail sales.

Welcome new hub! Ohio Local Foods Project in Fredericktown, Ohio

The operations staff of the Ohio Local Food Project are diligently working on getting the online farmer's market up and running and will let you know soon when our Grand Opening will be!
We believe that local foods taste better, are better for you, are better for the environment, better for the community, and better for the economy. And so, to us, local foods matter. We work with local businesses and community leaders to help make local foods projects a reality by using the connections that we have within the local foods community. We work proudly with Ohio producers to bring them together with marketplaces and consumers.

Welcome new hub! Floyd Food Hub in Floyd, Virginia

Floyd, Virginia- June 23, 2017- Floyd Food Hub has launched an online farmer’s market for consumers in the New River Valley area, focusing on the Floyd, Riner, Christiansburg, and Radford areas. The online farmers market features locally produced goods from Floyd County, Virginia including a diverse selection of produce, local eggs, jams, and jellies, handmade crafts, meat shares, and more!

Over the last few years, the internet has changed the way people purchase items ranging over various categories, such as books, clothes, gadgets, etc. Floyd Food Hub took the bold initiative of launching a platform where farmers, backyard gardeners, vegetable growers, and local artists can easily feature their best products.

Through an on-going agreement with local farmers and producers, Floyd Food Hub provides a responsive, mobile, e-commerce service where consumers can choose from a variety of products all grown or produced in Floyd County. By collaborating with local farmers, hobbyists, bakers, and aggregators; this online farmers market offers a direct B2C (Business to Consumer) solution for local businesses to connect with mindful consumers who appreciate the goodness of fresh products and the convenience of ordering those products from the comfort of their homes.

About Floyd Food Hub:
We are connecting the dots between producers and consumers in the local market with easy access to the very best of Floyd, making local easy. Floyd Food Hub is dedicated to the small-scale farmers and added-value producers in Floyd County. We are committed to positively impacting our local economy. Recently the Floyd Food Hub has partnered with Certified Naturally Grown as their first Business Ally in Virginia, standing proudly among businesses who support Certified Naturally Grown’s mission to promote sustainable agriculture through peer-review certification, grassroots networking, and advocacy. Next, Floyd Food Hub will be locating economically-attainable, kitchens that locals can use for production, creating an Airbnb platform, but for small scale food producers.

For further details, please contact:
Joanne Woodward
Phone: (540) 392-6112

Welcome new hub! Quad Cities Food Hub in Davenport, IA

The Quad Cities Food Hub is a bi-state initiative that connects farmers and consumers in Iowa and Illinois in effort to augment regional local food production and consumption. The organization is part of a network of Regional Food System Working Groups in the state of Iowa.
A regional food system supports long-term connections between farmers and consumers while helping to meet the health, social, economic and environmental needs of communities within that region.
Producers and markets are linked via efficient infrastructures that:
promote environmental health;provide competitive advantages to producers, processors and retailers;encourage identification with a region’s culture, history and ecology; and share risks and rewards equitably among all partners in the system.

Welcome new hub! Southern Legacy Food Co-op in Southside Virginia

The "Farm to Table" Dream - Buy Local, Buy With Your Conscience
More and more people are choosing an alternative to factory grown, factory driven, factory supplied grocery stores. Most folks do not know the source of their food, let alone the way their food is raised or grown.
Unaware that there might be thousands of "food miles" added to their table before they eat a meal, they have lost a vital connection and lack an ongoing relationship with local farmers who grow to provide their communities with quality produce.
Questionable, careless and even cruel practices drive many factory farms and they provide 98% of the grocery store chains in North America. Buying local allows you to get to know the source, even visiting the farms where your food is grown. Find out why "conscience driven" farmers are attracting a growing number of consumers.

Cultivate, Catalyze, Connect: A Gathering of Virginia Food System Councils & Networks

On October 6 the Virginia Food System Council, Chesapeake Foodshed Network, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future will be hosting a networking event, "Cultivate, Catalyze, Connect: A Gathering of Virginia Food System Councils & Networks," at the Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg. The goals of this event are to:
Strengthen and build relationships among networks and councils.
Share resources, ideas, and needs.
Raise awareness of the VFSC, local food groups/councils, and the CFN.
Improve organizational development.
Develop an asset-based map of Virginia food councils and groups with names of contacts.
Work towards alignment around a food system vision for Virginia.

Lulus Local Food at The 13th Annual Small Farm Conference, University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Lulus Local Food presented on Saturday, November 12th at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore 13th Annual Small Farm Conference in the Richard A. Henson Center, Princess Anne, Maryland.
Small farmers were invited to come out and learn about Hops Production, Business Planning, Improving Soil Health, Direct Marketing Opportunities, High Tunnel Ginger and Turmeric production, Rotational Grazing, Home Food Preservation and much more.
Keynote speaker, Wayne T. Gilchrest, former US Congressman and a longtime social studies teacher at Kent County High School was a keynote at the event. Mr. Gilchrest currently serves as director for the Sassafras Environmental Education Center which helps to promote environmental literacy across the Eastern Shore, especially in Kent County. A US Marine Corps veteran, Wayne is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Navy Commendation Medal. Mr. Gilchrest continues to be a strong supporter of initiatives to preserve farmland on Maryland's Eastern Shore, to protect unique natural areas, and to perpetually monitor those lands to ensure that preservation is permanent.

Lulus Local Food presents at National Small Farm Conference

Lulus Local Food to present at the 7th National Small Farm Conference
Virginia Beach Convention Center, September 20-22, 2016, Virginia Beach, VA
Hosted by Virginia State University’s College of Agriculture, Virginia Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with support from Virginia Tech
At the conference, through short courses, oral and poster paper presentations, exhibits, success stories and educational tours in and around Virginia Beach you will:
* learn about innovative advances in research, extension and outreach
* network and strengthen existing partnerships with other small farm professionals
* take home new ideas that will help to ensure small farmers and ranchers in your region not only survive, but thrive in today’s economy.

Local Food Networks Conference

Local Food Networks Conference
Date: Feb. 26, 2013
Location: Virginia Farm Bureau’s home office, 12580 West Creek Pkwy., Richmond, VA 23238-1110

This year’s conference will focus on safe products. The morning session will address safe production and harvesting/handling, along with best practices for managing risks. The afternoon session will be dedicated to networking opportunities for buyers and sellers. Participants who farm will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with buyers interested in purchasing local foods.

Southern SAWG Conference

Southern SAWG Conference
Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms
January 23 – 26, Little Rock, Arkansas

The Southern SAWG Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas is, as always, loaded with practical information tailored for those in the South producing organic and sustainable food on a commercial scale and for those in the region working to improve local food systems.

During the conference, Molly Harris, founder of Lulus Local Food, will be participating in a session devoted to Online Farmers Markets. Farmers and food marketers across the country are using online markets to make sales more convenient for both farmers and local consumers. Molly and several other online farmers market representatives will discuss how they got started, how they operate, their organizational structure (cooperative, LLC, non-profit) key rules and regulations, and software used. They will also provide tips for running them smoothly and troubleshooting common problems that occur.

For more on this exceptional farming conference, visit www.ssawg.org

Virginia Biological Farming Conference

Virginia Biological Farming Conference
Healthy Soil, Healthy Crops, Healthy Livestock.

The 2013 Virginia Biological Farming Conference will take place in Richmond at the Holiday Inn-Koger Center. This year’s schedule is packed with knowledgeable speakers, informative sessions, and outstanding networking opportunities. View the Conference flyer here.

Early bird registration is just $120. Available for members only, this rate ends December 31st. (Deadline extended due to delay in printing the full brochure. Remember: You can become a member at any time!)

– Keynote speaker Karl Hammer of Vermont Compost Company will describe an Integrated System for Production of Poultry and Compost.
– Friday plenary will feature Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain who will discuss Using Mycorrhizae to Improve Soil Fertility and Plant Health

Speakers include

* Kristin Kimball, author of The Dirty Life, and her husband Mark Kimball, on crop and soil management at Essex Farm in New York, where they run a complete diet CSA.
* Pam Dawling, of Twin Oaks in Louisa, VA and author of Sustainable Market Farming, on Vegetable/Cover Crop Rotation
* Jeff Lowenfels, author of Teaming with Microbes, for a primer on the soil food web
* Kit Pharo of Cheyenne Wells, CO, on minimum input beef cattle production