The demand for local produce in New York continues to increase, according to growers.
“I think in general, people in New York state want (local produce) if they can buy it, and they will,” said Dave Walczak, sales and operations manager at Eden Valley Growers Inc., Eden, N.Y. “You want to support your neighbor if you can.”
Eden Valley Growers, a coalition of 10 farms, is a member of the Pride of New York program, sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and has seen some good results from the program.
“The Pride of New York program is very supportive of locally grown product and does help promote it,” Walczak said.
The program provides members with a unified label to help consumers identify products that are grown in the Empire State.
Jessica Ziehm, spokeswoman for the state agriculture department, said the Pride of New York program has 3,100 members.
Ziehm said the program works hand in hand with other state programs to promote local agricultural efforts, including Fresh Connect, which helps bring more farmers markets and other related efforts to low-income and underserved areas of the state.
“These programs help further advance New York-grown fruits and vegetables,” she said, noting that most farmers markets use the Pride of New York logo.
Maureen Torrey, vice president of Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y., said the company’s brand helps them win local sales.
“Our brand includes the name of the town where we are, and it’s a good marketing tool for us when buyers see that,” she said. The company is also a member of Pride of New York.
Tim Richards, sales manager for Gill Corn Farms Inc., Hurley, N.Y., said he has seen a lot of demand for local product, thanks to Gill’s close proximity to major population areas.
“We’ll harvest product today and by 9 a.m., it’s on a truck, delivered by 4 or 5 that afternoon and in the store the next day,” he said.
“People get good, fresh product that way and then they come back for more,” he said.
Jason Turek, partner at Turek Farms, King Ferry, N.Y., said sourcing local produce is something people get excited about, including chefs.
“There’s a pretty high level of excitement to push crops that are in season and specifically what they can source in a day as compared to the winter when you are trying to source from 1,200 to 1,400 miles away,” Turek said.
However, there can be some flaws to this model if the system ever backs up, Richards said.
“If it ever comes to a point where it’s not selling as good, then it can create a problem. We don’t have a huge storage facility here. We just try to keep it moving,” Richards said.