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Local News

April 9, 2013

Local growers eye Big Apple markets

HAMDEN — Walter Riesen grows vegetables on Star Route Farm in the Otsego County town of Worcester.  Ken Jaffe raises grass-fed beef cattle on Slope Farm in Meredith.

Both farmers would like to sell more of meat and produce in New York City. After all, the five boroughs, with a population of more than 8 million, doesn’t have any farms.

Therein lies the opportunity for Riesen, Jaffe and other industrious farmers seeking to expand their businesses in a tough industry that doesn’t allow for many strategic mistakes.

Risen and Jaffe were among about 20 local farmers who gathered Monday at Lucky Dog Organic Farm in Hamden to consider working with the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) in organizing a “food hub” in Delaware County. The goal is to expeditiously and efficiently move fresh farm products to consumers and businesses in New York City.

“We have the food, and they want it,” said Rebecca Morgan, director of CADE. “The demand is there, and everyone is trying to figure out how to efficiently meet that demand.”

Rather than have each local farmer truck their farm-fresh products to New York City, CADE is hoping the farmers can work cooperatively to coordinate shipments directly to the buyers.

In some cases, those buyers are restaurants with discerning patrons who prefer to know precisely how and where the food that appears on their dinner plates was grown. CADE is also working with Greenmarket in New York City, a not-for profit operation begun in the 1970s that helps about 230 farmers, fishermen and bakers sell their products.

The mission of Greenmarket is to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms the opportunity to sell locally grown produce directly to consumers. Brokers and middlemen are not allowed.

The local farmers who met Monday were advised that if they want to sell to Greenmarket, they must contact  the organization’s buyers and work out a price for their products.

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