The Middle Peninsula Launches BayDirect, App to Connect Farm and Seafood Harvesters with Customers
The COVID-19 pandemic virtually shut down the seafood and agriculture market for many in Virginia’s Middle Peninsula region. A region dependent on selling products to restaurant markets, there was supply, but little demand.
The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority partnered with the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission, Consociate Media, and Marker Nine to create an app for Android and Apple, expected to launch in February 2021, to connect seafood and agriculture producers on the Middle Peninsula with people who want to purchase their harvest.
“Think about it like a dating app,” said Lewie Lawrence of the Authority. “A fisherman can post what harvest he has, a consumer can see that harvest, and they can make a connection through the app to make a sale in real life. The inverse is also a capability the app will have. A homeowner can post that they are looking to buy a certain kind of seafood locally and a waterman can respond to that request.”
The app is free for all to use and restaurants, markets and more can also participate.
Bay Direct includes features such as using GPS to find the nearest location with fresh seafood for sale, so if consumers are new to the area or visiting the area, Bay Direct helps figure out where to find the goods.
“I lost count of the number of times I saw friends and neighbors posting on social media asking for help locating a place they could buy their own local seafood,” said Rudy Heinatz, co-founder of Marker Nine, which supported the development of the app with a $4,000 donation. “Given where we live, we thought that was crazy. How could we be surrounded by water and seafood and not have an easy place to buy it all across our region? This app helps make that happen and we’re honored to support it.”
The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority, Middle Peninsula PDC, and partners have created an advisory group to include industry and other regional stakeholders, as well as staff from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and/or the Virginia Marine Products Board.
The team has conducted over 100 interviews and surveys of potential buyers and sellers within the region with 100% of responders stating they would use the app to purchase goods and 90% stating they have used apps to purchase goods before. A concern was that some potential buyers/sellers would not have access to a smart phone to use the app, but surveyors found out of 125 responses, 124 had a smart phone capable of using the app.
The Bay Direct free app will be available for download from the Apple Store and Android in February 2021. To learn more about Bay Direct visit https://baydirectva.com/. From here visitors can sign up for a newsletter to be among the first to know when Bay Direct launches.