Making the Link Between Small Farmers and Urban Buyers
We all want to support small farmers, but it’s not always as easy as we’d like it to be. Annie Myers is bridging the gap between the urban lifestyle and the quality found at small, primarily organic producers with her company, Myers Produce.
Myers Produce is a regional distributor connecting the New York City and Boston areas with local producers throughout Vermont and Western Massachusetts in a totally appropriately scaled way. It’s an idea that could only have come from someone with farming experience, something that Myers has in spades.
After having worked as the official forager for the Spotted Pig and for three years at Pete’s Greens, an organic, four seasons vegetable farm, Myers noticed that small organic farms were growing more food than they could sell locally, but not nearly enough to sell through larger supermarkets like Whole Foods. There had to be something between the local co-op or farm stand and the enormous megamart, and Myers found it by tapping into urbanites who wanted the quality of homegrown food without the hassle of coming out to get it.
“Given my past in New York, I knew there was still a huge demand from restaurants and retail stores for efficient and effective delivery of fruit and vegetables grown in our region,” she told Forbes. “I could literally see the supply and demand in front of me and the gap between them.”
After three years in business, Myers Produce remains small, and they like it that way. With just a handful of drivers and fewer than 40 farmers, many of whom run organic operations, Myers is at the helm of a diminutive but powerful organization. She’s looking out for the little guys at a time when, she says, the nation is overlooking them.
As compared to the 1950s, when there were more than five million farms in the U.S., there are about 2.1 million today, according to the Census of Agriculture due to mass consolidation that happened principally between the 1950s and the 1970s. While family farms have returned to the focus of agriculture — 2014 was dubbed the International Year of Family Farming by the United Nations — smaller efforts such as Myers’ are a huge part of what continues to support these family farms on a daily basis.
“The local food movement has made a lot of progress towards bringing back small farmers and saving farmland,” Myers says. “Creating small-scale distribution networks is one more necessary step towards rebuilding our regional food systems.”
And it’s working. Myers says that small farmers are planting more to meet the demand that Myers Produce is bringing them, and urbanites like knowing that what they’re buying — and eating — comes from small, local farms.
“None of the products we handle travel more than 350 miles from grower to customer,” Myers says.
A reduced carbon footprint, local organic food, and helping out the little guy: sounds to us like a recipe for success.
Farm fresh produce image via Shutterstock
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