LocallyGrownNews.com, a hyperlocal, hypertopical online community about local food founded by Elon University Professor Michelle Ferrier has expanded to Florida, opening its first franchise site in Tampa Bay.

Ferrier came to Elon from Florida, where she developed and managed a hyperlocal online community for a mid-size newspaper. From the lessons learned, she pitched the idea of a community news franchise to J-Lab and the New Media Women Entrepreneurs program. She was one of three grant awardees in 2009 to receive $10,000 in startup funds from the McCormick Foundation-funded program. LocallyGrownNews.com launched in April 2010.

She will be working with Dana Villamagna, M.S.J., a Tampa Bay journalist and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids.”

“I’m really excited to work with Michelle on this project. I think local is the future not only for food, but also for media,” Villamagna said. “The more we get to know each other and our communities, the more vibrant our societies become. I love food and I love journalism and I think it will be a great community building project.”

LocallyGrownNews.com has also received recent press from The Patterson Foundation, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Columbia Journalism Review on the unique hyperlocal, hypertopical cooperative model.

The Patterson Foundation New Media Journalism blog

Reynolds Journalism Institute Block by Block Community

Columbia Journalism Review News Frontier Database

Ferrier plans to expand the local food community concept to other cities nationwide and is in search of local foodies interested in bringing the project to their community. She is also seeking partnerships with hyperlocal news operators seeking evergreen food/eco content for their audiences.

“While we provide hyperlocal content to our readers, we also have an abundance of stories and recipes that help raise awareness about local food and sustainability,” said Ferrier. “We’d like to syndicate some of this geography-neutral content to other hyperlocal news operations and partners.”

For more information about LocallyGrownNews.com, contact Michelle Ferrier at info@locallygrownnews.com.