‘Craigslist for Foods and Local Farms’ app developed in West Michigan nears 100,000 users

Local entrepreneur Terra Osman has used her self-taught development skills to create a mobile app that connects buyers and sellers of local produce and garden supplies.

After launch Closed as of mid-March, the app now has over 100,000 downloads and 86,000 current users as Osman considers how to grow the business further.

“We’ve only really been open for two months – my priority is to support our users and provide them with what they need to be successful from a grower’s perspective,” said Osman, a Comstock Park resident with a background in marketing.

Osman described his app as a “Craigslist for local food and farms.”

Farmish – which is available for download on all major app marketplaces – allows food producers to set up a seven-day listing to advertise products for sale. These products can range from eggs and other home-grown produce to trees, plants, flowers and garden supplies. Users looking to buy can browse by location to discover nearby sellers.

The app only connects the two parties. Users do not sell or process payments through the app. Osman has monetized Farmish by offering a premium account, which costs $14.99 per month and includes 10 active ads at a time. A user forum provides resources for sellers, including information on topics such as building a brand, connecting with local customers, and compliance.

Osman said she’s also been in conversation with brands “that align with her mission” to do direct advertising. But as an app that’s only two months old, Osman also acknowledged that the digital product is in its infancy and needs upgrades.

“I want to be able to serve these users,” Osman said. “If I can serve those users by bringing in an investment partner with money that can get us to where we need to be faster, I’m open to that.”

Terra Osman“The next step will be more personalized app creation,” she added. “This is definitely a first step application. Maybe we can connect with an investor who brings in those resources and really fuels the mission.

Osman’s app provides a free or cost-effective platform for independent growers selling through on-farm or door-to-door stands. They are usually not sellers who promote their products in any form.

“I grew up in Fremont. Living there, we knew who had the right corn. We knew who had the farm stand with the cherries and when the Smith family would pull out the apples,” Osman said. “We knew where these things were. …After settling in Kent County, it took me years to find those connections. They don’t have a marketing team, they don’t have a website. I should dig through old Facebook messages and groups.

Osman’s efforts have also focused beyond West Michigan – Farmish is used nationally and offers listings in every state.

A growing market

Social media was central to Farmish’s initial success. Osman manages both personal and business accounts on TikTok. His personal account has garnered 44,100 followers while the Farmish account has 18,400.

Osman rarely promotes the app, instead creating content that she says will appeal to gardeners and those interested in local food supply and systems. His most-watched video explained how to create a $30 cedar raised garden bed.

Interest in its content on social media then generated interest in the app.

“Those followers took it off this platform for their local communities, farmers markets and Facebooks, and it really built the network,” Osman said.

Osman also credits the pandemic for sparking a renewed interest in local food.

The National Gardening Association reported that the pandemic alone created 18.3 million new gardeners. The strongest growth has been among millennials.

Additionally, Boston-based marketing automation company Klayvio analyzed e-commerce statistics to reveal that gardening tool sales have doubled during the pandemic.

“I think it opened our eyes to the fragility of our supply chain,” Osman said of the pandemic. “We’re continuing to see new impacts from this – it’s not just limited to 2020. Families starting to produce their own food doesn’t seem like a trend – it feels like a necessity and something they’re integrating into their way of life and their culture.

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