"Buy local" has become a well known phrase that has found its way into grocery stores, farmers markets and onto bumper stickers on cars across the country. The East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District is aiming to put this phrase into practice this summer by creating a "Stanislaus County Grown" brand.
The ESRDC was formed in 1996 to prioritize local resource conservation concerns in the area east of the San Joaquin River. After receiving a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Farmers Market Promotion, the ESRDC now has the resources to spread its mission.
"It‘s a two-part grant in that it allows us to open a farmers market and begin our Stanislaus County Grown branding initiative," said Jaime Meek, administrative manager for the ESRDC.
The project places emphasis on areas that are defined as "food deserts," or areas that lack access to quality, fresh and natural food options. The aim is to establish a farmers market in that area where sanctioned Stanislaus County Grown producers can sell their produce.
"It helps the producers, especially small to midsize ones, by giving them a direct marketing opportunity through the farmers market and with the branding initiative it will give them the ability to market them as locally grown," said Meek.
The farmers market is slated to open by the end of May, but the success of the ESRDC's efforts is based on feedback from consumers and producers. The ESRDC has created an online survey to gather information on local consumers such as what they would be likely to purchase at their local farmers market and which days they would be likely to attend. Producers looking to market their goods as Stanislaus County Grown can find resources and help with paperwork by contact the ESRCD.
"We want to know who is interested," said Meek.
The consumer survey and interested producers can find information at www.eaststanrcd.org.