Finnish farmer Thomas Snellman coined the concept of REKO Rings in 2013, and in the last few years they’ve begun to sprout in Wisconsin and Minnesota. This unique model of a local food market is connecting thousands of eaters directly to their local farmers using regional Facebook groups for each ring.
To explain how REKO works and how to go about starting one in your own community, three REKO Ring founders join the podcast: Mehgan Blair of the SFA Lake Superior Chapter and Twin Ports REKO Ring, Vanessa Wallock of the Ozaukee Area REKO Ring, and Thelma Heidel-Baker of the West Bend REKO Ring. All three also farm with their families in Minnesota or Wisconsin.
The way REKO works is relatively simple. Each week, participating growers post to the ring’s Facebook group what they have to offer and customers comment to initiate an ordering process. All payment happens in advance of the weekly pick-up day, where everyone meets at the same time and place to receive their orders from the farmers. The efficiency can save all parties time and money, while still allowing for authentic relationship building between farmers and eaters.
It’s a straightforward foundation. But as you’ll hear from each guest, keeping a REKO Ring rolling for the long haul is not without its challenges. They established open lines of communication with their producers and consumers in order to adapt their Rings to better suit the needs of their communities, and attribute that in part to their success. How did they do it? How could you set up your own REKO Ring in your community? Listen to the full episode!
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