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Field Notes

Ideas, stories and resources for re-linking the food chain.

A Workshop for Supply Chain Problem Solvers

Transparency, Collaboration & Shared Value in Local Food Economies A Workshop for Supply Chain Problem Solvers – November 7-9 in Ann Arbor, Michigan Conferences can be useful, but for collaborative learning and problem solving, we find that small,... read more

Change Food Speaker Spotlight: Erika Block

Local Orbit CEO Erika Block is giving a Change Talk as part of the Business Doing It Right track at this year’s Change Food Festival in New York. This interview with Brittany Barton originally appeared on the Change Food Fest Blog. How do you define local food?... read more

Top Revenue Drivers for Local Food Producers

Local Orbit supports 12,000 buyers and suppliers across North America who do business in 85 local markets.  As our CTO Andy Bass has written, “Local Orbit generates millions of transactions on a daily basis, across all aspects of the order to cash process – from... read more

Creating Business Value with Open Source Software

At Local Orbit, we frequently hear of efforts to build or utilize open source software (OSS) for local food businesses. Commonly misperceived as “free” software, it sounds appealing to small, cost-conscious operations that strive to make a social impact while building... read more

The Cost of Indecision

Ever struggled to get your organization to consider a change or have your organization evaluate a change and then stall on taking next steps? Identifying the cost of indecision can reduce the organizational inertia that prevents you from moving forward. When... read more

Small Steps. Big Impact.

As  Local Orbit develops new processes and features, we focus on incremental change and continuous iteration. This means that we add new components into our processes and our application without disturbing anyone’s business, including our own. This way, we can use... read more

The Power of Data to Grow Local Food Systems

  How Local Orbit helps organizations access their data, and how they can use it to plan for the future and develop sustainable local supply chains. Each day, our digital footprint grows larger and larger. In fact, it permeates our lives so thoroughly that we... read more

Does PACA affect your food hub?

The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act protects businesses dealing in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables by establishing and enforcing a code of fair business practices.  Denetra M. McPherson explains how PACA may apply to you.  Guest Post by Denetra M.... read more

What is Organic?

As consumer demand for transparency in the food system grows, we see many terms used to describe food, such as local, organic and fair trade. The challenge, however, is understanding what these terms actually mean.  Local Orbit believes that the best way to ensure... read more

“Local food systems are not inherently sustainable”

At events and in meetings, and through the rich pool of applicants we’ve had for recent job openings, we’re seeing a growing number of young people grappling with seemingly intractable food systems problems – with greater depth and awareness of the complexity –... read more

“Food Leaders are De Facto Climate Leaders”

Healthcare Without Harm published an excellent article last month about the role of hospital foodservice in climate change: Nourishing Patients and the Planet: The Role of Hospital Food Service in Climate Leadership.  Featuring the work of the University of Washington... read more

Networks: Helping Grow Local Food Economies

It’s been a couple weeks since the Local Orbit team returned from the National Food Hub Conference, and there’s a lot to share about the event. The conference provided a great opportunity to connect with customers and hear from business leaders about the challenges... read more

Local Orbit’s Software Development Process

by Jackie Cohen, Local Orbit Software Engineer  As a software engineer at Local Orbit, of course I write code – but that’s not all. I do larger scale product development tasks with the team as well as smaller tasks, including, data management for development of team... read more

Conversations Across the Supply Chain

I’m on the road this month, attending events for institutional foodservice operators, local food suppliers, and a conversation about reducing food waste hosted by Panasonic’s Innovation Lab. Universities, schools, healthcare facilities and other... read more

Can software loosen Big Food’s grip on institutions?

We love this visualization of the Local Orbit network, which was recently published in piece about  LocalEyes, our Supplier Management Service for institutions, at The New Food Economy. Increasingly, large institutions are setting food procurement standards that... read more

LINC Foods and Gonzaga University: A Case Study

LINC Foods and Gonzaga University: A Case Study The Challenge Students at Gonzaga University are demanding more local food options and greater visibility into the sources of supply. In response, the University established aggressive goals with its dining services... read more

Can Local Food Help the California Drought?

The National Drought Mitigation Center reports that even with short-term rainfall this winter, severe drought will continue throughout much of California. How can local food systems help address this? By increasing the supply of these same crops, grown locally.

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Jason Houston’s Farm Photos on Local Orbit

We love the farming and food production photos on our homepage which are the work documentary photographer Jason Houston, who writes: For over a decade I photographed farms and farmers in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts where I lived from 2000-2012. I started... read more

Small Farm Tech: Food’s Past and Future at Work

It’s easy to think of the small farm as a bastion of The Way Things Used to Be. And it’s comforting. But the reality of small, organic farms is that they are constantly seeking new ways to do more with technology. They’re seeking to increase production, build advanced... read more

Relocalizing Food Supply Chains with Tech & the Power of Story

Human brains are wired for story; this is what makes us human and enables us to learn, communicate, remember and act. In “Wired for Story,” Lisa Cron writes “Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution—more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to.”

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Erika Block Speaks About Local Ag Innovation at Grow Riverside

Erika’s presentation illustrates how the consumer demand for local food is growing despite distribution challenges and the recession. She introduces the concept of a shifting landscape whereby restaurants, hospitals and governments are creating initiatives to increase their local buying power. Erika also shares Local Orbit’s vision for relinking the food chain.

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BALLE Webinar: Join Us for a Discussion About Relocalizing Food Systems

We are looking forward to joining the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) in hosting a free Webinar about innovative models for admin-ajaxrelocalizing food systems later this month. On April 22, Erika Block and Noah Fulmer will lead a discussion about regional food distribution systems and a review of local models that are active throughout the country.

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Don’t Let These Three Bottlenecks Slow Down Local Food Growth in Your Community

Most of the people launching these startups have little “traditional” food distribution experience. They are mission-driven and focused on keeping food dollars in their communities. Local Orbit has made its mark creating online marketplaces for local food distribution startups. In the process, the company is been in a unique position to work with entrepreneurs developing a wide variety of business models in 12 states. There are common bottlenecks that Local Orbit found were slowing down its customers:

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