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RealTimeFarms.com brings local into the digital age

We haven't seen too many digital tools that successfully bridge the gap between farmers and their potential clientele, especially on a national level.

Then we came across RealTimeFarms.com, which boasts impressively detailed features , and immediately added it to our bookmarks.

Chalk up the site's clean interface and easy navigation to the cofounder's former occupation as a Google employee: Karl Rosaen and his wife, Cara, left Silicon Valley for Ann Arbor, Michigan, to start the website early last year.

And RealTimeFarms.com has grown substantially since the pair's move. The site maps local farmers' markets, listing which farmers are in attendance and what types of produce each grows.

But even more interesting is the restaurant arm of the program. Working from the advice of restaurants such as Zingerman's Roadhouse, the team created software that allows restaurants to upload their menus, then makes the menus interactive by linking the components of each dish to the farms that supplied them.

For instance, a quick glance shows that the grilled cheese at New York's Northern Spy Food Company incorporates curds from Consider Bardwell and arugula and basil from Satur Farms. This same functionality is in place on the restaurant's website as well. (The website charges restaurants a monthly fee for this service, but access is free for the general public.)

One (digital) step closer to the farm.

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