OFN is open source software from Australia. It is fueling Food Hub websites throughout Australia and Europe. Here is a definition from their site:
The Open Food Network platform is designed to help farmers sell food. It aggregates food from multiple sources to sell through an online shopfront, and creates a transparent supply chain.https://about.openfoodnetwork.org.au/
Alaska currently has an online food hub (Alaska Food Hub) but it is not cheap. Growers pay a small annual fee to use it. Any food sold through the hub gets a 25% markup by the folks that run the hub. They are in essence the middle men in all transactions. It is not coming out of growers pockets, but it plays a big part in what a grower can charge and still be marketable.
In Australia, the OFN charges the growers 1% of their total sales price. While this comes out of the growers’ pockets, it allows them to sell their produce for higher prices. This system creates a more transparent transaction from grower direct to buyer. Both parties benefit pricewise.
Currently there are no OFN sites in Alaska. We are exploring the possibility of running one down in Homer. It would target the local Homer community and not the rest of Alaska. It will be easier to customize a local site for both buyer/grower specifics and address issues.
Open source software means the software is free for anyone to use. If you live in an area that could use a food hub, this could be an answer. OFN encourages independent hubs for a variety of reasons. The application uses Ruby on Rails. An independent hub will have to setup their own servers and install the application. An admin will be necessary to setup accounts and address application issues. Current Australian hubs are being run on virtual servers in the Amazon cloud.
We will share what we uncover as we continue to explore this exciting possibility.
Be well & dream green… Jeff