Ohio a big beneficiary of locally grown produce - The Packer

Ohio a big beneficiary of locally grown produce

06/05/2009 11:44:49 AM
Andy Nelson

What’s not new at Walcher Farms is a commitment to treating the Earth well. Sustainability has always been a company virtue, Holthouse said — whether it was called that or not.

“We’ve been doing it a long time. Now we have an official word for it,” he said. “You’ve got to take care of the ground if the ground takes care of you.”

Demand for locally grown produce is “a real plus for us,” said Jim Wiers, president of Wiers Farm Inc./Dutch Maid, Willard.

“I don’t know that there’s anyone in the Midwest growing as complete a line as we are,” he said.

But, Wiers said, there’s nothing new about locally grown in Ohio.

“We’re not really getting more calls for locally grown,” he said. “We’ve been here 113 years. Retailers in this area are very much aware that we’re here, and we get great support from them.”

The only Ohio market that lacks in locally grown programs is Cleveland, Wiers said.

“There’s been such a consolidation in retail over the years in Cleveland that there’s not quite the local flavor,” he said. “The buying offices in a lot of Cleveland stores are out-of-state.”

Still, there are signs of hope, Wiers said.

“I think the local programs have a stronger focus in Cleveland than in the past, so it is improving,” he said.

One Ohio shipper benefiting less from the locally grown trend is Swanton, Ohio-based Bettinger Farms, said Don Bettinger, president.

Most of the company’s sweet corn ships to points far-flung, Bettinger said.

“Ours ends up in Florida and Georgia, around there,” he said. “Maybe some will go to the Meijer chain in Michigan.”

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