By Colin Cureton, CHIP Food Systems Director
Just over a week from today, dozens of San Diego County farms, produce distributors, sustainable businesses, and food systems advocates will all be showing up in a field in Encinitas, CA. Why would such an interesting (and busy!) group of people do such a thing?
Well, because coming to that field will also be over a hundred representatives from school districts, hospitals, universities, restaurants, childcare providers, community organizations, local government, and community partners. They will spend several hours developing face-to-face relationships that will continue to grow the local food economy in Southern California.
This event is the 3rd Annual Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase, which will be held on Friday, October 23rd from 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the Leichtag Ranch in Encinitas, CA (441 Saxony Rd., Encinitas, CA 92024). The event is set-up like a trade show in which buyers and sellers of local produce meet face-to-face, the first step in developing long-lasting business relationships.All attendees are invited to stay for an catered reception onsite following the event from 4:30-6:00, generously hosted by the Leichtag Foundation. Attendance for produce buyers is FREE of charge, vendor registration for growers is just $30, $150 for distributors, and just $10 for attending community partners.
Our follow-up research from last year found that roughly a quarter (25%) of participating vendors had made sales to new clients or increased sales to existing clients as a result of the event. Other impacts were new educational partnerships between farms and schools, several distributors now marketing and labeling their local items following the event, and more. Once the results were in from last year it was clear to us that this event serves a unique role in growing San Diego County’s local food economy. See here for a story on the 2014 event posted on Civil Eats, and below for pictures and quotes from participating vendors in 2014.
What did growers gain from this event? Here is some direct feedback from participating growers last year on the value of the Let’s Go Local!:
“It was a great event and very inspirational. I had no idea such a strong effort was underway for Farm to School and sourcing local food.”
“I developed an understanding of requirements, logistics, and proper contacts.”
We really enjoyed it, and it made a difference for our business.”
-Participating farmers in the 2014 Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase
While we strongly encourage institutional buyers of produce to attend, there is a role for EVERYONE at this event, as it takes us all to build a better food system. We invite farms, distributors, institutions, businesses, community organizations, food systems advocates, and interested individuals to attend, meet vendors, and network with one another.
Don’t miss this unique, once-a-year opportunity! REGISTER TODAY!