Sellers
PEC Logo Farmer Chef Express Logo

Learn more about options for buying local -- for individuals and families, for institutions and schools, and for restaurants and caterers.

The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) launched Virginia's first Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign in 2006 with the goal of supporting local farmers, productive agricultural lands and rural economies by helping consumers easily find and purchase locally produced foods.  Today you can find 9 Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters throughout the state of Virginia.

The latest from the Charlottesville Area Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Fredericksburg Area Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Hampton Roads Area Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Heart of Virginia Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Loudoun County Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Northern Piedmont Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Northern Virginia Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the Shenandoah Valley Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

The latest from the South Centre Corridors Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter.

 

Upcoming local-food conferences, courses, festivals, and workshops.

Farmer-Chef Express is an online, interactive tool to connect buyers and sellers of local food. Listings outline specific product needs or product availability so that buyers and sellers can connect with each other and establish productive business relationships. It's free and easy to use. All you have to do is sign up and then start posting! 

We encourage not only restaurants, but also organizations like food pantries, community food groups, local food distributors, and commercial canneries and kitchens to search for products. We also encourage farmers to post products for sale, and to consider opening their farms for gleaning of seconds or excess product.

An important fact to keep in mind is that the more information you can provide on what you’re searching for or selling, the faster and easier it will be for you to make connections with a buyer or seller. 

Farmer-Chef Express was created by The Piedmont Environmental Council. We hope you like it!

Veggies sunt bona vobis, proinde vos postulo esse magis rutabaga gumbo daikon quandong turnip chickpea beetroot.

Cultivating the Connection

Consistency & Commitment
– Buy what you say you will buy, and buy consistently while the product is in season.  
Communication – Have an open conversation with the grower and describe to them how you plan to use their product. Establish a predictable routine for phone calls, orders, and questions. Give as much advance notice regarding your needs as you can. Always clarify the details.
Buying – Expect to pay full price for these premium products. You can expect to learn why it’s worth the price and your customers will thank you! If you’re unhappy with a product, tell the grower why, and request other varieties or products that may work better.
Flexibility – Base your menu off of what is in season and use what is fresh! If issues arise with the grower or your staff, try to understand the problem and agree on win-win solutions. It’s all about the relationship!
Delivery – Establish a routine delivery schedule including day, time and point of contact. If conditions change at the restaurant, let the grower know immediately.
Trust – Remain open, transparent, flexible and patient. Remember, it’s all about the relationship!
Invoicing & Billing – Establish a payment system and follow through on your promises. Most farmers like to be paid either COD or in 7 days.
Education – Share the growers' stories and continue to learn about products that are available. Inspire your staff and customers to do the same! Visit their farm during the summer or winter if you can, or stop by to see them at a farmers market if available.

Questions Buyers Should Ask Sellers

  1. How long should we expect the growing season to last for this product?
  2. How would you like your product promoted at the restaurant or on the menu?
  3. What is the best way for us to send payment?
  4. Can I have a main point of contact? 
  5. What is the best way for us to communicate? Email? Phone? Fax? 
  6. What agricultural methods are used in production?
  7. What is the best time and day for you to deliver?
  8. If people ask about your product, can I give them your contact information?
  9. What food safety practices have you implemented?
  10. Do you have insurance coverage? If so, how much?

 

Cultivating the Connection

Consistency & Commitment – Deliver what you say you will deliver, when you say you will be there, with consistent quality.
Communication – Have an open conversation with the chef and tell them what’s going on at the farm. Be sure to follow up on deliveries and find out what the customers liked best. Determine an agreed on time every week to find out what the restaurant needs.  
Schedule – Find a delivery time that is efficient for you, but works so that the chef can have a steady stream of fresh products during the week. Because of proximity, deliveries may not need to be as often. Know busy times and plan your visits and calls around them. Timing is everything!
Sell what you can deliver – Don’t “short the kitchen” – the chef is expecting a certain quantity. If your product changes, notify the chef to see if they still want it. Look at past invoices or growing schedules, if you have them, so you can reliably predict what you will be able to offer through the season. Plan to grow a little extra and select the best produce.
Walk the walk – Go visit personally, take free samples, and lure the chefs in. Make simple suggestions to help chefs cook with your product, especially if you offer something special or unique. Help them plan a menu around your food.
Know your customers and their customers – Eat at the restaurants and find out how your product is used. Ask to see a menu, or sample seasonal menus if available. Determine ways to fit your products into them. (Hint: Check online websites for menus!)
Maintain professionalism – Be patient and diligent, be punctual, be courteous, prepare invoices ahead, and call if you’re running late. You are the CEO!
Invoicing & Billing – It’s most efficient for everyone if you can establish an account and billing cycle.
Specialize & Diversify – Your farm is unique and so is your story. Talk with chefs and find out what they need in particular. Some growers find it works best to concentrate on one or two strong crops; others find it’s better to offer a variety and be able to cover most of a chef’s produce needs for a week. 

Questions Sellers Should Ask Buyers

  1. How much of a supply are you planning to need?
  2. Will you be promoting my products in the restaurant or on the menu?
  3. Can I give you a few of my business cards or promotional materials to display?
  4. How will I, and when should I expect payment?
  5. Who is the best point of contact? Is there a follow up person?
  6. What is the best way for us to communicate? Email? Phone? Fax?
  7. What is the best time, and day for me to deliver? Can you pick-up?
  8. How would you like the product packaged?