Chorney-Booth: CultivatR takes farmers’ markets online

by Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

We’ve all heard it — with populations shifting from the country to the city, Canadians have become increasingly uninformed about where exactly our food comes from. This trend has seen a bit of a correction with the growth of farm-to-table movements and “buy local” trends, but when it comes down to it, most of us can’t name the farmer who grew the carrots on our dinner table or the grain in our morning bowl of cereal.

Dan Berezan, a former Calgarian who now lives on a ranch near Pincher Creek, knows that a lot of consumers want to feel more connected to their food, but may not find traditional farmers’ market shopping very convenient. It’s a problem that goes both ways — many farmers and ranchers realize that some customers are willing to pay top dollar for farm-specific food, but they don’t have the infrastructure in place to sell to them directly. Seeing a problem that needed solving, Berezan developed an “online farmers market” called CultivatR, which just launched this month at

“We always thought there was a disconnect between the people who produce our food and the end user,” Berezan says. “There are so many problems for producers who are trying to get their food to market — they want to try direct marketing but doing it on their own is expensive.”

There certainly are local producers who have figured out the marketing piece on their own — 7K Ranch, for example, holds seasonal “pick-up” events where customers can come out to enjoy a ranch lunch and pick up pre-ordered packs of beef, and vegetable growers like Shirley’s Greenhouse sell through traditional farmers’ markets and do community supported agriculture boxes — but not all farmers can or want to run retail operations. CultivatR provides a solution for food producers who don’t want the hassle of maintaining an online store.

From the customers’ point of view, unlike models that see producers unloading a half animal or big case of vegetables on customers, CultivatR specializes in reasonably sized packs or meats and produce. The platform works with local farms that are producing sustainable and naturally minded food and has already signed on producers like Steel Pony farms in Red Deer, Gemstone Beef in Gem, Alberta, and Lambtastic Farms in Vulcan.


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