Web site unites buyers, sellers

Say you raise honeybees as a hobby. You like honey, but your bees produce more of the thick, syrupy stuff than you can use but not enough to make it worth your while to peddle the extras at the farmers' market or the local grocer.

Wouldn't it be sweet to find an opportunity to make a little cash on that extra honey? Now you can.

Folks at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry and the Missouri Grow Native! program are developing a Web site that brings together buyers and sellers of Missouri-grown products. The site will allow users to post the product they want to sell or buy, said Larry Godsey, economist with the MU center.

“Mostly, we want to grow (the) market for alternative products grown in Missouri,” he said. “You don't have to be a big producer to participate. That's the whole point of this. We want small growers, too.”

Products on the site might include locally grown honey, native plants and seeds, culinary and medicinal herbs, specialty wood products and heirloom vegetables.

Godsey expects the site to be complete by Jan. 1, 2007.

In the meantime, he's inviting growers to begin listing their products for sale by contacting him at http://www.centerforagroforestry.org or sending potential postings to the MU Center for Agroforestry, 203 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building, Columbia, Mo., 65211.

Consumers registering on the Web site will have access to contact information provided by the buyer or seller. No sales will be made via the Web site, Godsey said.

“The online market is the fastest growing market area,” he said. “It's convenient, and the Internet provides immediate access to the information.” Producers can change prices and update offerings immediately.

Godsey said people who post items on the site choose how much contact information to provide. For example, a grower may post a phone number, an e-mail address, a short biography and a photograph of his or her farm. Others may list only the items they are selling or looking to buy and an e-mail address.

Site funding is provided by a grant from the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program. The grant was awarded to Grow Native!, a joint program of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Department of Agriculture. That program partnered with the MU Center for Agroforestry to develop the site.

“It's going to be a very user-friendly site,” said Tammy Bruckerhoff, marketing and business development specialist for Grow Native!. Grow Native!'s charge is to restore the state's biodiversity and increase awareness of native plants and their uses.

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