Local Farmers Go Online to Sell Direct to Chefs

The chef of Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York checks the items for sale in the back of a van selling produce. Photograph by Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times/Redux

Dean Sparks is a 49-year-old farmer near Binghamton, N.Y., who for decades has relied on wholesale distributors to buy his organic eggs, milk, and cheese and sell it to stores and restaurants around the East Coast. In early April, he started experimenting with online food wholesaler FarmersWeb to sell to chefs and shop owners directly. He’s since landed about a dozen new clients via the site and relishes its simplicity. “With FarmersWeb, selling is a 15-minute process without hours of paperwork,” says Sparks. “For a small business, time can be more valuable than money. It makes a big difference.”

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