I recently took a trip to the Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference & Trade Show in Sturbridge, Mass, where I took part in a panel discussion on institutional purchasing from local growers.
There were panel discussions on topics as wide ranging as how to use the Internet for marketing and increase sales, the emergence CSA programs, to agricultural energy conservation and land transfer programs for the family farmer.
What struck me most, however, was how many people from the public were looking into starting small growing operations. It was also interesting to see how many conventional growers see organic in the larger context of farming in the US.
Organic farmers, in many ways, reintroduced the conventional grower to diversified crop growing and retail selling opportunities through the explosive growth of farmers markets across the US. As I see it, the dialogue between conventional and organic growers is vital to improving the overall quality of our food source.
I have never seen he consumer more curious about food production then they are today. It is also that way with farmers. The growers I encountered represented the massive change in New England’s agricultural community, which has transitioned from a largely dairy economy, to diversified retail market growing and increased artisanal livestock production.
The consumer has played a vital role in that transition by increasing the demand for local, high quality, food production.
So, thinking about becoming a grower? Interested in what you can do to help your local economy’s food production, how about attending a conference in your area. I encourage you to look up your local Dept of Agriculture’s website to find out about panel discussions and trade shows which may be happening in your area.
It just may change the way you look at regional food production.