FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (February 2011)—Furthering their dedication to community service and the support of local agriculture, Whole Foods Market's Florida Regional Office is proud to announce that it is rolling out a new, state-wide initiative to support local farmers. Effective immediately, all Florida stores will now be serving as drop points for local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. A win-win opportunity for consumers to buy fresh, local food directly from a farm, and for farmers to sell more produce, earlier in the season, a CSA program connects its paid members with participating farmers who provide them a weekly stock of seasonal produce. The looming problem for farmers is how that produce gets to consumers (where it is dropped off and/or picked up) in a manner that is convenient for all involved. An understanding of these challenges, coupled with Whole Foods Market's mission to support local farmers, prompted Florida team members to create a solution – offering their stores as complimentary drop spots. “At Whole Foods Market, we go out of our way to seek out and promote the best that our local growers and producers have to offer,” explains Russ Benblatt, executive marketing coordinator for Whole Foods Market's Florida Region. “But it’s just not possible for every farm to be represented on our shelves. We couldn’t think of a better way of living up to this goal than by providing an outlet for farmers to bring the best that Florida agriculture has to offer, straight to the consumer”
Having tested the system with two supplying local farms in a few stores over the past several months, the Whole Foods Market Florida team is certain this will be a success: Teena’s Pride, a CSA farm in Homestead, Florida, has been using the Coral Gables and South Beach stores as drop-off points, while Swank Farms in Loxahatchee has been dropping products at the Wellington, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale locales. Tested farmers and CSA members seem to be thrilled with the program, as are store Team Members. “We’re so grateful to Whole Foods Market for offering their stores as CSA drop points for us and other local growers,” proclaims Teena Borek of Teena’s Pride. “It really shows their commitment to both their own customers and the local family farms. And our CSA members are thrilled with the one-stop system!”
“It’s all about supporting the local farms in a way we never have before,” says Matt Lamoreaux, Produce Coordinator for the Florida Region. “We want people to discover the heritage and variety of farming here in Florida and we couldn’t think of a more exciting way to do it!” Through this program, Whole Foods Market hopes to help educate people in Florida about CSAs, as well as raise the awareness and support for local family farms. Local farmers who wish to participate are encouraged to contact the marketing team leader at their nearest store. The number of farms supported in each store will be limited by available storage space for each pick-up day, and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested farms can find their closest store by using the “store finder” at wholefoodsmarket.com/stores.