SIKESTON -- Those with a green thumb who have some leftover products now have a resource to sell their goods and earn a little extra cash.
"Our overall objective, essentially, is to link sellers of Missouri products with buyers," said Michael Gold, associate director in the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. The site, which launched Feb. 5, is the a partnership between the Center for Agroforestry and Missouri Grow Native! program.
"The original concept for the site is something we at the Center for Agroforestry have wanted to do for a long time," said Larry Godsey, a economist for the Center. Only contact information will be listed, and no sales will be made directly from the site.
People mostly grow alternative products such as ginseng, pecans and honey as a hobby, but end up with excess. "We want to give them a place to get rid of it without having to own a retail store or the expense of spending their time sitting in a farmers' market on Saturday," Godsey said.
Tammy Bruckerhoff, business development and marketing specialist for the Grow Native! program, agreed. "I think it's going to open up markets," she said. Since the site will list amounts for sale, the site is "really getting more down to the nitty gritty of what they have available."
There has been quite a bit of interest in the project across the state, but not a lot from Southeast Missouri thus far. But Godsey expects that to change as the site becomes more publicized. "I would think there would be a lot of interest down there," he said.
Postings have been collected since mid-November. Thus far, there have been postings for ginseng, pecans and animal products like wool, among other items. "We really had it in mind for plant products, but we're not going to turn anyone down," Godsey said.
The site focuses on commodities with little or no market data. "It may sound like an overall 'why bother,' but there are lots of products that fall under the realm of commodities where the market information is scarce," Gold said.
The site will connect buyers and sellers, but it will also give information to people wanting to begin growing a product. Gold expects it to give insight for what's hot and what's not to begin growing.
Those who post to the site choose how much information to provide. Some may list a phone number, e-mail address, biography and photo, while others may only list the items they are selling or want to buy and an e-mail address.
Currently, the site, which Godsey compared to classified ads, is free, funded by a one-year grant from the Federal State Marketing Program. When the money is gone, the partnership will look at other alternatives, but wants to make it free or as inexpensive as possible, Godsey said.
Interested buyers and sellers can go to the site at www.missouriexchange.com.