There is a move afoot to convince Virginia consumers to purchase at least $10 per week on locally grown foods and beverages. Virginia Cooperative Extension research says that if consumers spend $10 or more each week to buy locally it would add up to $1.65 billion for the local economy per year.
Agriculture is already Virginia's leading industry with an economic impact of $55 billion, but the $10 Buy Local Challenge could increase that impact significantly.
Realizing this, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has joined several partners, including the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, the Buy Fresh Buy Local --Virginia and all the members of the Virginia Food Council, in the $10 Buy Local Challenge effort.
VDACS says that now that it is spring more consumers will start thinking more about locally grown produce, particularly in farmers markets, on store shelves and on restaurant menus. In the spring many markets offer seasonal produce, including asparagus, greens, herbs, peas, onions and berries. Locally produced honey, eggs, herbs flowers and fruits are also widely available.
"The Virginia Grown program is aimed at helping consumers easily identify locally-grown products in the marketplace," says VDACS Commissioner Matthew J. Lohr. "The program uses a highly recognizable logo that Virginia farmers' market vendors, grocery stores and restaurants can use to designate Virginia Grown products. VirginiaGrown.com also offers a user friendly searchable website that helps consumers find pick-your-own farms, farm stands and farmers' markets in their community."
Many consumers believe locally grown products are fresher and more nutritious. They often get to know their local farmers by purchasing locally.
Consumers looking for locations at which they can purchase locally grown products can go to the VDACS website www.VirginiaGrown.com for pick-your-own farms and farmers' markets. They can search via the website by venue, locality or zip code. VDACS also urges consumers to looking into purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription.