Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From Your Farm to...

Last Saturday was the Annual ASAP Marketing for Farmers Conference at the beautiful Warren Wilson College. This was my first time at the conference and I saw many familiar faces, conventional and organic growers from larger farms to market gardeners.

Because the growers I work with are always looking for new markets to diversify or tap into, I decided to attend the Farm to Institution session. This session included representatives from Warren Wilson College, Anderson County, SC K-12 schools and Mission Hospital in Asheville. Each talked about what their institution is doing to bring in local produce and highlighted the great success they have had with these programs. Here are some highlights of success:

  • Warren Wilson College's "Cow Pie" cafe, part of it's sustainability initiative, features herbs and produce grown on campus, as well as a compost program. These initiatives helped the college get the ranking as No. 2 "Greenest College" in the Nation and No. 4 nationwide in the Sierra Club's "Coolest Schools" list. Warren Wilson also gains attention for its recycling and waste reduction programs
  • Mission Hospital was named one of the first "Red Apple" hospitals by NC Prevention Partners. The hospital provides a healthful food environment to its employees and promoting healthful and active lifestyles. Mission Hospital also hosts a tailgate market in their parking once a week during the growing season which features local produce.
    The Citizen-Times in Asheville just printed this article on Farm to Hospital.
  • Anderson County, SC has established the state's first Farm to School program for K-12. The provides local (less than 50 miles away) and healthful food for students, as well as hands-on learning through field trips and even school gardens.
All three institutions expressed that they do not accept produce that a farmer "drives up to the loading dock". Produce is received through a cooperative or buyer/distributor in order to assume the proper liability and insurance requirements of that institution.

If you are a farm that is interested in marketing your products to any of these institutions or types of institutions contact the ASAP office at 828.236.1282.

If you are an interested grower who is less than 50 miles from Anderson County and who would like to get your produce into Anderson County schools contact Sandra Jordan at