Buy Haywood looks ahead to 2013

Nov 28, 2012
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt Howard Sorrells and Ralph Ross chat before the Friends of Agriculture breakfast Wednesday.

For the coming year, Buy Haywood has a number of ambitious goals, including further expansion more “cooking local” classes, helping growers expand direct consumer sales and helping livestock producers gain entry to consumer markets.

Anne Lancaster, the director of Buy Haywood, was the speaker at the quarterly Friends of Agriculture breakfast held in Waynesville this week.

In keeping with the organization’s mission to promote high-quality local farm product sales direct to consumers, she told a group of about 50 that much has been accomplished, but there is much yet to do.

In part through Buy Haywood efforts, there has been a regional livestock market center built near Canton, the number of local restaurants purchasing local products has increased and the tailgate markets have grown as well.

“But there is a lot of untapped potential,” Lancaster said.

There is a lot of excitement in the local food production field as evidenced by the sold-out local foods dinner at Lake Junaluska on July 4 and the highly successful series of pasture dinners sponsored through Sunburst Trout.

As a way to help promote local food, Buy Haywood has been conducting cooking events that illustrate ways to prepare the fresh products and introduce them to consumers who might  be more familiar with frozen vegetables than fresh.

As part of Buy Haywood, a branding effort has emerged for large tomato and vegetable producers where colorful stickers distinguish the products. For 2013, Lancaster said the organization will make the stickers available to smaller growers, as well.

A meeting is planned early in the year with Casey McKissick of N.C. Choices, who has helped create a local brand, Farmland Foods, which can help local producers penetrate local markets. The pioneer work done through N.C. Choices will help ease the transition into a niche food market, Lancaster said.

There will be a meeting at the WNC Regional Livestock Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 10 where those who raise fiber animals can discuss the potential for expanding the markets, and a Feb. 23, 2013 conference at Warren Wilson College will focus on the “business of farming.”

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