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Online Network for Local Farmers Hits Pay Dirt

An online effort to connect farmers with consumers trying to buy local gets a million-dollar VC infusion.

This story appears in the November 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Heather Hilleren of Local Dirt.When she worked as a team leader at Whole Foods Market from 1996 to 2005 in Madison, Wis., it drove Heather Hilleren crazy when the retail giant, which prided itself on working with local farmers, had trouble finding and buying from them. She watched as one store's pool of farmers shrank from nearly two dozen to just a few.

Some farmers failed to drop off price sheets or were hard to reach to confirm pricing changes. Buyers would have to purchase from a regional distribution center to fill supply demands, Hilleren says. Produce often came from several states away and wouldn't be as fresh as customers expected, so sales would suffer.

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