Cleveland resident Trevor Clatterbuck has a new model for the food industry: one that connects a local mother and her a grocery list with a farmer located a few miles away, all via home computer.
Clatterbuck, the 23-year-old founder of Fresh Fork Market, is using the power of the internet and social networking to revolutionize the way people buy produce in the Cleveland area.
Clatterbuck’s Fresh Fork brings farmers and producers together through an online interface. On the company’s Web site, producers can create product listings and buyers can shop for specific items or join a CSA. “It’s like a Cleveland farmer’s market delivered” the site boasts.
Last year, armed with $30,000 in seed money and a business plan developed for a college entrepreneurship competition, Clatterback and three friends launched Fresh Fork.
The idea started when Clatterbuck–a political science and business management student at Case Western Reserve University–and three of his classmates were searching for a project for an entrepreneurship competition. The group was dining at a restaurant in Charlotte, N.C. that was advertising local fare. But the waitress explained that none of the local items were available.
“The local foods network was grossly inefficient,” Clatterbuck said. “There was just a general disconnect between buyers and sellers.”
In its first year, Fresh Fork connected 36 Cleveland-area farmers with 57 restaurants. Gross sales topped $100,000. Now the company’s broadening its scope to include household consumers across the region.
Beginning this month, Fresh Fork is introducing its CSA Plus program for corporate clients in the Cleveland area. The arrangement will allow employees to take part in a CSA and collect the food at work.
Fresh Fork already operates a CSA with five pick-up locations throughout metro Cleveland. And unlike more traditional models, Fresh Fork allows consumers to choose individual items or a traditional CSA bundle, of one of three sizes.
Clatterbuck and his remaining partner, fellow Case graduate Bob Gavlak, hope the Fresh Fork concept will evolve to become “an E-Bay for local foods.”
The young company is even negotiating to expand its model to local foods markets in Maine, Maryland and possibly West Virginia.
Clatterbuck is optimistic is online marketplace could revolutionize the way food is delivered to consumers, by eliminating several intermediaries and making local agriculture a “viable business concept.”
Stop by the virtual farmers market yourself at freshforkmarket.com.