New Partnership With Local Growers to Raise Awareness of Economic, Health Benefits, of Buying Local Produce
March 06, 2014
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell 608.843.8858
The county is expanding its partnership with local growers to increase awareness of the importance of buying local and of the health benefits of locally sourced produce, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.
The Dane County Executive’s Office and the Dane County Human Services Department will become new pick-up locations for county employees who purchase a share from one or more community supported agriculture (CSA) farm partners – Vermont Valley Community Farm of Blue Mounds, Campo di Bella of Mt. Horeb, and Elderberry Hill Farm and Equinox Community Farm of Waunakee.
The farms are members of the FairShare CSA Coalition, an organization consisting of farmers and community members who are committed to building a strong, vibrant local food system based on community supported agriculture. Additional CSAs and pick-up locations could be added as demand grows.
“We believe that promoting wellness among our employees helps people live healthy lives and saves taxpayer dollars. Our expanded partnership with local growers will further that goal,” said Parisi. “Community supported agriculture has helped keep local farmers on the land and families eating fresh food from right here in Dane County.”
The county initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of buying local produce among its 2,500 employees, and provide a new market opportunity for local CSAs.
The FairShare CSA Coalition estimates that $2.5 million worth of produce was sold by their 17 Dane County member farms in 2012. According to a recent study commissioned by Dane Buy Local, $73 of every $100 spent at a locally owned business remains in the local economy, versus $43 from a similar purchase at other businesses.
Buying local produce is also healthier for consumers and the environment. Food purchased within hours or days of being harvested has more flavor and vitamins. The food also has fewer miles to travel by car or truck, reducing fuel consumption and air pollution.
CSAs were originally developed in the United States more than 20 years ago and provide a partnership between farmers and their share holders.
CSAs help farmers find new markets for their produce and gain much needed capital at the beginning of the growing season. Consumers receive a valuable education about the importance of farming, and fresh, locally grown produce.
Dane County has a national reputation as a local foods leader and is fertile ground for community supported agriculture. The first Madison area farms began in 1992, and by 1996, more than 4,000 area residents were CSA participants. Today, more than 25,000 area residents eat fresh food from a FairShare Coalition affiliated farm every week during the growing season.
The new partnership is the latest county initiative aimed at raising awareness of the importance of supporting local agriculture.
Last year, the county partnered with the FairShare CSA Coalition to fund a Small Scale and Organic Produce Educator position in Dane County UW-Extension. The staff provides operational and educational support to local growers through the Institutional Food Market program and FairShare.
Dane County’s IFM was established as an economic development program for the purpose of creating new market opportunities for Dane County and regional growers, and local food businesses, by increasing the sales of local Wisconsin food to institutions and other large volume buyers. Since 2006, Dane County’s IFM has generated over $4.3 million in local food sales.
And at the direction of the County Executive, staff continues to explore increasing access to sustainable agriculture and ag incubators on county-owned lands, including in two new county parks currently in development – Anderson Farm County Park in Oregon, and Silverwood County Park in the Town of Albion.
For more information on the FairShare CSA Coalition, please visit: http://www.csacoalition.org/
For more information about Dane County’s Institutional Food Market Coalition, please visit: http://ifmwi.org/about.aspx
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