Nov 15, 2012
Specialty farmers get boost from associations

Help is on the way for specialty crop-growers in Ohio who want to sell more of their products to grocery stores and restaurants.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association in Columbus is joining with Countryside Conservancy in northeastern Ohio to develop ways to help small fruit-and-vegetable growers increase sales to retailers.

“A way to make a positive impact on farmers’ bottom lines is to get their food into more outlets that are accessible to consumers,” said Beth Knorr, market manager and local foods program manager for Countryside Conservancy in Peninsula.

Farmers markets and community-sponsored agriculture have been the primary ways used to encourage people to connect with local food, Knorr said.

However, consumers do 90 percent of their food shopping at retail outlets, such as grocery stores and restaurants, not at farmers markets, according to a 2011 study by Ohio State University’s Center for Farmland Policy Innovation, she said.

Ohio farmers may be better positioned than their peers to plug into retail channels, said Renee Hunt, program director for the food and farm association. “Ohio is well-poised to connect with the local food system because it has multiple medium- and large-sized urban areas that farmers can tap from surrounding areas,” Hunt said. The Columbus Dispatch

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