New non-profit Growers Station easing organic produce's journey from farm to plate
A new non-profit is making it more convenient for P.E.I. restaurants to buy local organic produce — and saving farmers some trouble at the same time.
Growers Station launched quietly last year, testing out its business model while developing some big growth plans for this season.
The non-profit aims to make selling local organic food easier, something farmers previously had to do on their own.
"It takes hustle. We are in charge of not only having to deal with your growing and deal with the weather but as well your marketing, your sales, your distribution," said Ann Higgs, who chairs the board of Growers Station and is an organic grower herself.
"That's a lot of time on farmers to be on the road trying to make that face-to-face connection and make those sales."
Maintaining quality control
Those face-to-face connections won't be entirely eliminated. It's important for buyers to know their farmers, said Higgs.
But Growers Station will take over distribution and also has a sales platform where customers can place orders. Selection and packaging are still done by the farmer, so they have quality control.
It's also easier for customers, who can purchase from one location.
Jamie Power, executive chef at Slaymaker and Nichols and the Blue Mussel Cafe, has been using the service since October. He had been sourcing local produce from a number of different farmers and said he appreciates the new convenience.
"It can be a bit tedious, by times. You're contacting three or four different people to get different products in," he said.
Not only is using the service easier, it's also allowing Power to discover new products.
"Syrups and honeys and grains that really I probably wouldn't have even known were local until I accessed this site," he said.
Currently Growers Station is for wholesalers only and deals mainly in produce.
There are plans to expand into other organic products, such as meat and dairy, and to open access to retail customers, Higgs said.