Photos from Our 4th Annual September Eat Local Challenge

The results are in for the 4th annual September Eat Local Challenge, a month long photo scavenger hunt to connect Central Illinois shoppers to local food and farms in their region. The local love was strong this year and 130 shoppers downloaded the scavenger hunt app, featuring 8 photo challenges and a number of food and farm trivia questions. Participants who successfully completed all of the Challenges were entered to win a $200 grand prize based on the quality and creativity of their photos.

In terms of economic impact, a survey of participants revealed that as a result of the Challenge:

  • 87.5 % spent more money on local food than they normally do throughout the year.
  • 87.5% purchased product from a farmer that they did not know before
  • 37% shopped at a farmers market they had not shopped at before
  • 37% dined at a farm-to-table restaurant they had not dined at before

Beyond economic impact, the Challenge also helped build knowledge and increase connections in the food system. According to survey respondents:

  • 100% reported that their knowledge about where to find and buy local food in their area increased
  • 100% tried a locally-grown product they had not tried before.
  • 87.5% reported that their knowledge of seasonality increased
  • 87.5% reported that their knowledge of how to prepare local food
  • 37% had a meaningful conversation with a farmer

The Challenge also helped drive awareness for local food and farms throughout the region. As a result of the Challenge:

  • More than 90 photos were posted to Facebook, Instagram, and the Scavify App raising awareness for farms and farmers markets across central Illinois
  • 18,000 people were reached through Facebook posts on the Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois page alone– not counting the photos posted by participants above. This was a 155% increase in interaction from previous months.
  • 2,500 people interacted with those posts—by clicking to learn more or to share—a 197% increase from previous months.
  • 6,000 people across Central Illinois were reached weekly through the Buy Fresh Buy Local Newsletter which promoted the Challenge and featured recipes, resources, and tips for buying local throughout the
  • 7 media outlets ran stories throughout the month.

The September Eat Local Challenge was organized by Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Illinois, a project of Illinois Stewardship Alliance. The Challenge originated in response to the “September Slump,” a decline in sales and attendance at farmers markets across Illinois during the month of September. Plans are already in the works to expand the Challenge statewide next year to help shoppers across the state connect with more local food and farms. To stay up to date on the latest seasonal recipes, resources, food and farm events, and our plans to expand statewide, subscribe to our Buy Fresh Buy Local newsletter.