Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Farmers market organizer to create organic network in Dallas-Fort Worth
Here's to lots more organic produce at markets and restaurants in spring 2012.
Vincent Hirth, founder of the Four Seasons Farmers Markets, wants dearly to offer organic produce from local farms at his markets. But there's been a problem with infrastructure -- with getting the produce delivered. So he's decided to create a distribution system where he can basically go get it himself.
Called The Texas Organic Network, it would bring local, organic produce to area farmers markets and restaurants.
It would allow the grower to focus on growing, and ensure that the produce sold at farmers markets was grown organically. It would also fill the increasing demand at restaurants for local, organic produce.
"Infrastructure is what is missing in the local food markets, so we decided to build what is needed," Hirth said. "When you talk to a farmer, he's always busy with his farm, and he's usually going to only one market because he doesn't have enough trucks. I decided I could go get the produce and bring it to market. Farmers should farm. I can take care of the logistics and sales part."
Hirth is a missionary for organic, and says he wants not just to sell it but to teach why it's worth buying.
"When I'm at the markets and I talk to some of the older people, I ask them, 'Would you buy organic?' and their answer is, 'Why do I care?'" he said. "I think they get the wrong signal about organic. It's not only about you -- it's about the environment and your children. The next generation."
Susie Marshall of The Gleaning Network of Texas will direct the program.
"The demand for organic produce in the area is high, and the growers struggle to manage their time in order to get that produce to market," she said. "It’s difficult for the growers to always be at farmers markets on the weekends or delivering to restaurants when there is still a lot of work on the farm. This model will help provide what the consumer wants and take a stress off the growers."
The Texas Organic Network already has one grower who will lead the way and expand his organic-produce output for spring 2012. But in order to be ready to deliver, a fund-raising effort has begun to purchase refrigerated trailers to transport the produce. The goal is to raise $20,000 in a series of events that will introduce attendees to local growers and promote the value of local, organic produce for the North Texas area.
The first fundraiser will be on Thursday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Cadot Restaurant. The cost is $60. Attendees will be able to meet local vendors and sample products and will be eligible to receive one of 20 door prize baskets filled with vendor gifts. Those who stay for dinner will receive 15% off their meal.
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