RALEIGH – Interest in buying locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats continues to grow as consumers look to support local growers and find foods that haven’t traveled very far from the field to the table.
To tap into this growing trend, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is ramping up its efforts to help shoppers find locally grown farm products in their area through promotions and updates of the department’s NCFarmFresh.com Web site.
The Web site is as a tool where consumers can search for retail farms, roadside stands, farmers markets, community-supported agriculture operations, nurseries, retail garden centers and similar outlets in their area that sell directly to the public. Listings can be searched by the type of commodity being sold, by county or by region.
NCFarmFresh.com has been active for around five years and lists more than 1,000 farms, 119 certified roadside stands and 116 farmers markets. The site has traditionally focused on fruits and vegetables, nursery products and Christmas trees; however, farmers who sell meat and dairy products can now sign up to be listed.
“Farmers who market their products directly to consumers are encouraged to sign up now so they won’t miss this marketing opportunity,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “As our marketing efforts draw more and more shoppers to the Web site looking for farms in their communities that sell direct, this will be a simple and easy way for farmers to promote their products and potentially increase their sales. Best of all, it is free and easy to do.”
The department will soon launch a statewide advertising campaign encouraging consumers to use the Web site to find local vendors. The campaign is being funded by special grants from the Golden Leaf Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as cooperative funding from commodity associations.
Farmers can register their farms by logging on to NCFarmFresh.com and following the links on the home page. They may also contact NCDA&CS at (919) 733-7887 for more information or assistance. Farmers interested in joining the Goodness Grows in North Carolina program or becoming a certified roadside stand can also contact the department at the number above.