A local branding firm has launched GrowCharlotte.com, a new website that ultimately will let users track locally raised fruits, vegetables and meats from their farm source to the market, store or restaurant where they’re offered, says founder Justin Giardina.
“I’m not a foodie, but I’ve learned a lot more about local food and have become more passionate about it,” says Giardina, who runs TakeRoot, a brand-building agency in Charlotte. “The idea is to connect community and educate people about why local food is better.”
The site is in beta form now, and features links to food blogs, lists of area farmers’ markets, tips on growing your own produce and a few articles about people in the business of local food. (Disclosure: The site also contains a link to Backyard & Beyond.) Giardina expects eventually to host a farm directory and farmer profiles and to sell ads. “We’re all about letting people know where the good stuff is. Most of the information (on local food) is outdated – people don’t know where to find it; it doesn’t have good search engine optimization.”
Giardina says his team is talking with local businesses about sponsorships for the site, which got launch help from Cassie Parsons of Harvest Moon Grille, the Fruit and Vegetable Coalition and other groups.
“The original idea was to help promote Charlotte Farmers Markets and provide an online directory for members of the community,” says Giardina. “Since then, the idea has grown with help from community groups, food educators and locally sourced business owners.”
Kristin Davis, local food expert with the Mecklenburg County Cooperative Extension, who participated in early planning sessions about the site, said GrowCharlotte has the potential to become “a clearinghouse for all things ‘local foods.’”
“The sky’s the limit for it,” says Giardina. “We just came up with the platform for it. Hopefully we turn more people on to local food.” – Amber Veverka