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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Retailer Roundtable: How do you work with local farmers?

Retailer Roundtable: How do you work with local farmers?
Four retailers reveal how they incorporate produce, meat and dairy products from local farms into their stores.

Lee MartinecLee Martinec, general manager of Mountain People’s Cooperative in Morgantown, W.V.
We regularly have local eggs, honey and maple syrup. We carry a local tofu that I think is the best, and we also have local jellies, jams, salsas, breads and even personal care products. We almost went out of business two years ago, but we really put our focus on local and low-cost healthy food, and were able to bounce back.

Tanner BarnardTanner Barnard, produce manager of Sunshine Health Foods in Morro Bay, Calif.
We go to three farmers’ markets a week, and about half of our produce ends up coming from local farmers’ markets. We get whatever’s in season and we usually have lettuce, spinach and strawberries. We are just starting to get in squash and berries. Being in central California, farmers’ markets are abundant and we can get local produce 24/7. Since the products are right here, it makes our footprint a lot less.

Joe HamiltonJoe Hamilton, owner of Pilgrim’s Market in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
We buy a lot of produce, grain, meat, dairy and poultry from farmers. We buy local because we like to support our local economy, and because of the environmental implications and the freshness. Our customers come in looking for local products, so they sell really well. We advertise that we have local products in our circular, and we also have local farmers come in and do samples of their goods. We’re planning to start making mini films where we interview local farmers so customers can see where their food comes from.

Reagan PufferReagan Puffer, store manager of Harmon’s in Salt Lake City, Utah
We get in whatever produce is in season—all different kinds of fruits and vegetables; cherries, peaches, corn, anything that grows in Utah. Customers really appreciate it because it tastes better and fresher. To promote what we’re doing, we’ll have the farmers come in and we’ll also post pictures of them around the store.

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