IFB partnership receives local food innovation award

“Engaging Partners to Expand Impact and Grow Farms and Food Business in Illinois,” a statewide joint effort of Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Specialty Growers and Illinois Farmers Market Association that markets, promotes and sustains the Illinois MarketMaker program has been named the winner of the 2020 Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Award.

Awarded for the 10th consecutive year, the Innovation Award recognizes outstanding efforts by state and local MarketMaker programs around the United States that contribute to the development of local and regional food systems, connecting to new market opportunities. Cash awards provided by Farm Credit may be used by the winners to help advance their MarketMaker-related programs.

MarketMaker, which began in 2018, has grown from three statewide partners to six in 2020, with eight county-level partners and seven other smaller nonprofit partners.

Earlier this year, Illinois became the first state-level program to pilot an e-commerce function through the MarketMaker platform. With the onset of COVID-19, the group began pushing a large campaign, with dedicated social media and email marketing initiatives focusing on registering and/or updating local MarketMaker profiles. During this campaign, the platform saw more than 850 profile updates and listings from March 1 through June 30th — a 732% increase from the previous year.

“MarketMaker has richly benefited from the collaborative spirit of partner organizations. This year’s award winners demonstrate what working together toward a shared vision and thinking creatively can achieve,” said Darlene Knipe, MarketMaker director and co-founder.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.