AgMap: Promoting America's Agriculture

Web Site Offers Guide To Agriculture

Mary Klaus - The Patriot News


A Penn State University professor has created a Web site to provide one-stop shopping for consumers looking for fresh vegetables, farmers in need of help to harvest their crops, and landscapers seeking compost.

AgMap, the new network, will help consumers, farmers, and businesses, find local providers of agricultural commodities and services, said Rick Day, AgMap project director and associate professor in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Pennsylvania is a national leader in agricultural production, from apples to wood being shipped around the world," Day said. "Yet many Pennsylvanians doen't even realize what is being grown within a few miles of their homes."

Traditionally, he said, a person or business seeking an agricultural commodity or service "had to pull out the phone book or farm market guide and hope they found what they needed. Yet people only got a local search that way."

AgMap is changing that, Day said, noting that the Web site brings together "all the agricultural businesses in Pennsylvania that people may have had trouble finding." It enables users to search for agricultural products and services by location and types.

Day called AgMap a marketing tool for agricultural businesses ranging from fruit growers to post-hole diggers, nutrient-management consultants, and nut producers.

"AgMap lets them market their products and services on the Web site for free," he said. "Local farmers may not be aware that the resources they need are available in the next county. Area businesses and consumers that use agricultural products might not know that what they need is available locally. AgMap also makes the small producer visible."

For instance, consumers looking for "pick-your-own blueberries" operations within 20 miles of their homes can turn to AgMap for answers, Day said.

"AgMap will return a list of all the farms that meet this criteria, plus a map showing consumers how to get there from their homes," he said. "AgMap also lists the farms' business hours, e-mail addreses, and phone numbers. So if a Philadelphia resident is going to a Penn State home game, he can use AgMap to find orchards in that area where he can buy apples."

Day said anyone with a computer, and a Web browser can use AgMap online at

"We're confident that AgMap will improve direct-marketing between producers and consumers and help keep marginal operations in business," he said. "Farmers, other producers, and agricultural service providers will want to be on the map."

State Agriculture Secretary Samuel E. Hayes Jr. agreed.

"Our farmers' markets can list their locations, products, and hours, telling consumers what they offer," Hayes said. "Our businesses can list their services, providing farmers with a tremendous planning tool. Farmers can have information available instantly without leaving home."

Although AgMap is new, Day said more than 500 businesses from across the state already are listed on the Web site. He said up to 30 people a day visit the site.

Day said some businesses are using it to determine the locations of competitors and to find voids in services where new businesses might be successful. "For instance, if I want to grow Christmas trees on 10 acres, where is my competition located and do they sell blue spruce?" he said.

AgMap is funded through the Penn State Cooperative Extension program.

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