AMES, IOWA - MarketMaker on the Web offers a free new tool to connect family shoppers with farmers - and with everyone in between - including restaurants and grocery stores. That's good for consumers who wonder where to find fresh local products and good for small farms with no marketing budget. For everyone, it's Internet easy - just visit and click the MarketMaker link.

States already part of MarketMaker's growing network include Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Alabama, Texas and other states are expected to join soon.

"MarketMaker began as an online database of Illinois businesses and was so successful that now other states have joined the effort," said Iowa State University Extension specialist Craig Tordsen. "University of Illinois developed and owns the tool but the multi-state partnership that is able to pool large amounts of food industry data and provide it to the public really adds value to the resource."

Family shoppers can use the MarketMaker website to search for restaurants or places to buy everything from freshly picked or pick-your-own produce, to maple syrup and wine. Farmers can search for farmers' markets, grocery stores and other outlets to sell their food products.

The Iowa website is located at From there, visitors can search for restaurants, grocery stores, farms and other production facilities across several states. "It's more than a directory of information because it has interactive features like mapping and search capabilities so users can really target and focus on the data that they need," Tordsen said.

Each state has a unique site, but all the data from other MarketMaker states can be accessed from any state MarketMaker location. The national MarketMaker link is hosted by the national Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University. The AgMRC link provides a clickable map of the entire United States. Participating states are highlighted, making it easy for users to navigate from state to state or to regionalize their data searches.

Iowa farms and businesses can sign up for a free listing by registering on the MarketMaker website at

"Our goal is to make the site a resource for all farmers and businesses in the food supply chain," Tordsen said. "We are as interested in helping a grocery store find farm-fresh eggs as we are in helping the farmer find a place to sell them, so it's important to include as many producers in our database as possible."

Access MarketMaker through the national MarketMaker link at

SOURCE: Iowa State University Extension