Recognizing that the demand for local food is growing to between $5 and 7 billion a year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new effort Thursday aimed at connecting farmers with urban shoppers.
Consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for foods they believe were sustainably produced, like free-range chicken, fair-trade coffee and pesticide-free wine. But what does “sustainable” actually mean?
This is the latest installment of Harvest Public Media’s Field Notes, in which we talk about important issues related to food production.
The drought was easily the biggest story on the farm beat in 2012. But this past year, many of the stories filed by Harvest Public Media reporters focused on food politics and the divide between large industry groups and proponents of organic, sustainable and local foods.
In its plans, the Bucking Horse subdivision in Fort Collins, Colo. will support a 3.6 acre CSA farm, a plaza designed for a farmers market and an educational center where homeowners can take canning classes.
For decades, housing developments in the suburbs have come complete with golf courses, tennis courts, strip malls and swimming pools. But make way for the new subdivision amenity: the specialty farm.
A new model for suburban development is springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement. Farms, complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees, are serving as a way to entice potential buyers to settle in a new subdivision.
Most Saturdays, Chef Mike Odette, who is co-owner of Sycamore Restaurant in Columbia, Mo., is talking to farmers and customers at the farmers market and searching for food to work into his next menu. Odette makes a point of getting the best local, seasonal food that he can for Sycamore, which is one of the most popular restaurants in town. But today, his mission is a little different.
“We're looking for some veggies that would make good slaw to take on a picnic, and some veggies that would make good refrigerator pickles,” he says.
Lucky’s Farmers Market, based in Boulder, Colo. is setting up shop where the Osco Drug building used to sit. Aside from possibly creating about 100 jobs, the opening of the grocery store fills another need in Columbia.
According to Luis Zamora, Southwest Regional Director of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Columbia’s considered to have limited grocery options. Bo Sharon, president of Lucky’s Farmers Market, says the new store should help alleviate the issue.
Originally published on Tue February 5, 2013 7:21 am
When Wal-Mart calls, Herman Farris always finds whatever the retailer wants, even if it's yucca root in the dead of winter. Farris is a produce broker in Columbia, Mo., who has been buying for Wal-Mart from auctions and farms since the company began carrying fruits and vegetables in the early 1990s.
During the summer and fall, nearly everything Farris delivers is grown in Missouri. That's Wal-Mart's definition of "local" — produce grown and sold in the same state. In winter, it's a bit tougher to source locally.
The lingering drought continues to keep the Mississippi River at historically low levels. But now the Army Corps of Engineers says the river will likely stay open for transportation at least through this month. But many grain and energy industries that send products up and down the river aren’t yet breathing a sigh of relief. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports from the Corn Belt where a lot of grain begin its journey south down the Mississippi.
Right now, Missouri Vegetable Farm located 70 miles south of St. Louis doesn’t have anything in its fields. But come summer and fall, peppers, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, sweet corn and pumpkins will be harvested and sold at Wal-Mart.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is muscling in on one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture: local food.
Wal-Mart says 11 percent of the produce sold in its stores nationwide comes from local farms, a large increase from the mere 4 percent it sold two years ago when the chain announced its intention to step up local sourcing as part of a larger sustainability platform and a commitment to buy from small businesses.
Tammy Sellmeyer bends to pick up a strawberry in the middle of a hoop house on the 25-acre farm she owns and operates with her husband, Greg, just south of Fulton, Mo. The Sellmeyers plant some 3,000 strawberry plants here each year and sell them at the Columbia, Mo. farmers market. This past May, they sold 400 quarts in just three hours. But two years ago, they didn't have many berries to sell at all because pests got to their crop.