RALEIGH, N.C. -- A new campaign launched by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is providing a state-initiated link between produce buyers and growers, cooperatives and processors capable of supplying seasonal fruits and vegetables.
N.C. Fresh Connection employs marketing specialists within the agriculture department, who will provide monthly updates to buyers regarding the status of harvests, a feature that allows buyers to better schedule purchases and promotions, according to officials.
A Web site has been created to simplify and consolidate all the information. At www.ncfreshconnection.com, buyers will find news, a list of produce growers in all applicable categories, contact information for marketing specialists, a calendar showing crop availability and harvest schedules, and a link for a monthly prize drawing.
Crops grown in the state range from apples to zucchini, and include blueberries, strawberries, onions, squash, broccoli, watermelon, cucumbers and onions. Each crop includes a link to a list of growers, along with their address, contact information and their production abilities.
The Web site's most recent newsletter noted the state is one of the key producers of late spring/early summer potatoes, and included data on the approximate number of acres devoted to potato production (18,000) and a list of the varieties available (round whites, reds, Yukon Golds and a few russets and specialty-type potatoes).
Another button accesses the list of marketing specialists within the NCDA&CS in five offices, as well as their specialties. Links to specific produce items grown in the state are also located here. The availability chart shows a calendar grid with the monthly period when each of the two dozen produce items are open to market.
North Carolina's effort is the latest step in the growing movement of state-sponsored, agriculture-promotion programs. Such initiatives have been steadily gaining favor with retailers eager to streamline local produce sourcing and enhance promotion of those items. Some programs incorporate non-produce items as well.