Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Direct Marketing Opportunities for Farmers Opening Up

Small to medium farmers are typically most interested in direct marketing opportunities like farmers' markets, roadside stands, etc. A couple of new opportunties are here with the new growing season!
Wildwood Growers' Market is currently seeking vendors for a producers-only Saturday market that will run October through April. This is a low cost to producers ($15 per week) and with the proximity to a large urban population this market should be a great opportunity for produce and ornamental growers. This market will focus on locally grown (100 mile radius) homegrown and homemade. Contact me at (352) 793-2728 for a vendor application. The opening day is October 24th and we want tons of vendors that day!
The second new opportunity is called Farm to School and is a national initiative. Sumter County Schools Food Service Director Eric Suber is very interested in purchasing produce that is grown locally. This is a great opportunity for the school system to provide the best food possible while supporting local farmers. I can also help you connect with the school system for this opportunity.
It's an exciting time to farm - challenging for sure but so many people are coming to want what you grow and respect how you do it!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Interested in transitioning to organic?

How many certified organic growers of fruits and vegetables would you think there would be in an agricultural state like Florida? I recently was able to obtain a list and there are currently 105 farms that have achieved organic certification.
None of those farms are located in Sumter county but I did find 49 of them that are within 100 miles, making them "local" by our current definition. I receive regular calls from local citizens looking for organic produce, but most consumer do not seem to know what it means to be a certified organic producer. U.S. sales of organic products grew by 17.1 percent to $24.6 billion by the end of 2008 so this is big business!
Florida Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. is providing an event to help people learn how to transition into organic farming on September 25th at the Alachua County Extension Office. The workshop costs $15 and includes refreshments, lunch and materials. The purpose of the workshop is to benefit conventional farmers who are seeking more information about tranisitioning to organic practices. Topics to be discussed are organic marketing, research-demonstrated benefits of organic farming, Farm Bill programs that support transition to organic production and National Organic Program regulations. To register for the workshop contact FOG at (352) 377-6345.