When the USDA first made the dataset from the USDA National Farmers Market Directory available to web and application designers last year, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. We just knew local food lovers, farmers market lovers, and data lovers were waiting for it.
The results have been amazing. Websites and apps that not only benefit their local communities, but help farmers markets have popped up across the nation.
Some sites, like Real Time Farms, mesh the data from the USDA National Farmers Market Directory with their own listings for farms and restaurants, painting a detailed picture of local food artisans, farms, and farmers markets. They also supplement their listings with a wealth of information like photos or a weekly calendar that highlight markets and their hours of operation.
The Eat Well Guide combines our directory data with a slew of other datasets to present a full picture of local food options for any given location. A quick search of Fairfax, Virginia yields results for bakers, butchers, community gardens, creameries, farmers markets, ranches, co-ops, farms, restaurants, and much more. For sites like this, our data becomes just one part of the overall food picture they are trying to create.
Developers at Find the Data built a tool for finding and comparing farmers markets based on location, featured products, and forms of payment out of the export of our directory data. Side-by-side comparisons like this show the details of several markets at a time, making it easier to select a location that works best.
Over at Code for America, a developer was able to combine his love of farmers markets and his love of data into an API for the Farmers Market Directory data. Tools like this will give developers, tech-savvy foodies, and other data lovers an easier way to put our directory data to work. Even CNN used our data in a partnership with Foursquare to create a “healthy eating badge.”
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the USDA agency responsible for the National Farmers Market Directory, will continue gathering and refining the data and sharing it. Until then, the improvements made in the Farmers Market Directory this year–mapping functions, expanded search capabilities, and the ability to create custom reports–make the information more useful and more pliable for developers and farmers market fans alike. Later in the fall AMS plans to release additional farmers market data sets.
Every week, we hear from app developers and web designers who are using the farmers market data in creative and inspiring new ways. If you’re using our data building an app or would like to access it, let us know!