Getting locally grown food to your table has never been easier with the increasing abundance of farmers' markets and local co-ops. And the movement is spreading beyond the home. A co-op in the North Country has been working to get that local food onto the tables of restaurants and college dining halls. As our Barry Wygel tells us, they'll soon have a new tool to help with that mission.
CANTON, N.Y. -- Since 2005, the North Country Grown Co-Op has had a simple mission to connect local farmers to local businesses.
“We sell vegetables for 30 to 25 different growers and we sell to about 20 to 25 different customers," said Sue Rau, manager of the North Country Grown Co-Op.
Those customers include St. Lawrence County’s colleges and many local restaurants.
“We have markets that will take just about anything that we can grow," said Rau.
The massive Amish population in St. Lawrence County is an untapped resource for the co-op, with no way to get to the fruits and vegetables from the farms to the buyers, but a new grant may soon help that problem.
Co-Op officials say the new USDA grant will enable them to take their business to the next level and help satisfy the ever increasing demand.
“The two crops we are short the most are tomatoes and melons and those are two crops that the Amish grow really well. We are going to have the refrigerated truck, which frees up our van, so that maybe we can go out and have some satellite pick-up areas," said Rau.
In addition to the new truck, the roughly $100,000 grant will be used to help educate farmers on how to maximize their crop.
“Our markets start in August and end in May, more or less, so we need high tunnels and storage facilities and ways to extend our crops," said Ann Heidenreich, past president of the North Country Grown Co-Op.
People at the co-op say they will continue expanding in coming years to try and do what they can to meet demand.
If you want to try some of the local food grown in the North Country, the co-op is hosting a benefit dinner on October 16th. For more information, visit www.northcountrygrown.com or email email@example.com.