Farm Horizons, April 2018

Minnesota Grown, locally consumed

By Jennifer Von Ohlen
Staff Writer

Although farmers across the nation collaborate to supply America with fresh produce, some Americans find a special joy in knowing the food in their cupboards was grown in their own state’s soil.

To help consumers distinguish which products were locally harvested, the Minnesota Grown Program releases an annual directory that guides Minnesotans to local farmers, farmers’ markets, and other agronomic producers such as wineries, garden centers, Community Supported Agriculture farms, meat processors, Christmas tree growers, and cheese, rice, or honey producers.

The program was started about 30 years ago by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and specialty crop producers, who wanted to distinguish their products from those grown many miles out of state.

Its directory is released every April, and last year it consisted of 1,031 farm and farmers’ markets listings.

As stated on the Minnesota Grown website, “The goal is to make it easy for buyers to contact suppliers who meet their criteria, and to avoid the frustrations that come from talking to people who aren’t a good fit for [the producers’] business[es].”

There is more to be found in the directory than just produce businesses, however. It also highlights in-state family activity venues, such as farmstay Bed & Breakfasts, places to go horseback riding, petting zoos, corn mazes and labyrinths, and more.

The directory can be picked up statewide through travel information centers, libraries, member producers’ farms, the Minnesota State Fair, chambers of commerce, and Explore Minnesota Tourism. They can also be ordered online (with free delivery) at minnesotagrown.com/order-minnesota-grown-directory.

The program also releases a free electronic newsletter called, “Pick of the Month,” which highlights what produce is in season and how to find Minnesota Grown products. It also has features on how to prepare and store certain foods, along with potential recipes to try. For more information visit minnesotagrown.com/pick-month.

Becoming a Minnesota Grown member

With a distribution rate of about 150,000 printed Minnesota Grown directories a year, in addition to the 350,000 Minnesota Grown website visitors and the 17,000 Minnesota Grown “Pick of the Month” newsletter subscribers, several of Minnesota’s producers have become members of the Minnesota Grown Program as a way to promote their products throughout the state.

There are two levels of membership:

• Minnesota Grown labeling membership: at $20 a year, members will be administered a license for qualifying applicants; the right to use the Minnesota Grown trademark logo on products, websites, and promotional items; access to unlimited, free Minnesota Grown promotional materials; access to a labeling cost share program (which can help cover up to half the cost of adding the Minnesota Grown logo to packaging and signs); and the opportunity to be listed in the wholesale directory, which is marketed toward restaurants, grocers, schools, and other institutions.

• Minnesota Grown directory listing membership: at $60 a year, members at this level receive all the benefits of the Minnesota Grown labeling membership, plus the opportunity for members who sell directly to the public to be listed in the direct-to-consumer Minnesota Grown directory.

No matter which level of membership is selected, businesses will be promoted through the Minnesota Grown program home page and event calendar, social media, press releases, and large-scale campaigns about buying local such as on television, billboards, and digital media.

For more information on the membership program, visit minnesotagrown.com or contact Members Services Coordinator Karen Lanthier at karen.lanthier@state.mn.us or (651) 201-6140.

Membership applications can be filled out online or downloaded and mailed in. Find the links to either option at minnesotagrown.com/members-retailers/become-minnesota-grown-member.

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