local food

Put Local On Your Tray (Or Plate) In April

Put Local on Your Tray is a farm-to-school program helping Connecticut schools serve and celebrate regionally grown food. Even if you’re not a school, they have some advice for getting local onto your plate this season.

spinach and greens being grown in greenhouse
Photo: Molly Deegan

Days are getting slightly warmer and longer, the breeze is sharp, and the land is both awakened and nourished by fresh spring rain. Farmers are in a busy period of transition, from indoor planning and preparing for the height of summer – to the beginning stages of planting outdoors – making sure everything is ready to go. While there may not be an abundance of produce to choose from this month, there still are some special products to take advantage of for their especially sweet and distinct flavors of spring that they offer. For instance, mixed greens!

Spinach is our suggested local item to look out for – according to our Tray team Farmer Liaison, Shannon. After a long winter, the sugars stored in it’s leaves give it flavor hard to find any other time of year. Seen below, are rows of sweet greens growing at Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge.

Locally Sourced Food – Even in Mid-Winter

By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH

Senior Extension Educator, Food Safety

 

vegetablesAfter a not-so-local food-filled holiday season (including, I must confess, raspberries, grown somewhere in South America, in a fruit salad), it might be a good time to get back on track. Though it can be more difficult in the winter, eating locally sourced foods is far from impossible in these mid-late winter months.

Eating seasonally can get a bit tedious over the long hard winter if your supply is limited by either amount or variety. But, many farmers are now extending their growing seasons with greenhouses, high tunnels and other production methods. You may find the fruits of their winter labor at a winter farmers’ market near you. Actually, there are at least 9 of these markets in the state—one is likely not far from you. Included are the Fairfield Winter Market; the Litchfield Hills Farmers’ Market in Litchfield; the New Milford Farmers’ Market; CitySeed’s indoor farmers’ market in New Haven; Stonington Winter Farmers’ Market; Coventry, Ellington, and Storrs Winter Farmers’ Markets in Tolland County; and Stonington Farmers’ Market. Check with the local market near you for hours, days and times: they are easily searchable on the internet. Some meet only once or twice a month, others continue to be open weekly.

Keep in mind that shopping at the farmers’ market in the winter is different than in the summer—or than in a super market in the winter. The food choices will be different. You might find beets, carrots, celeriac/celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, salsify, sweet potatoes, turnips, and winter squash. If you are not familiar with, let’s say, kohlrabi or rutabaga, type the name into your favorite search engine (or leaf through a good general cookbook) and you will be sure to find a tasty recipe or two.

You might also discover Belgian endive, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chicories, curly endive (frisée), escarole, kale, radicchio, and spinach or other greens that are being produced in high tunnels or greenhouses.

Hearty leafies like escarole, chicories, endive and radicchio make a great base for a winter salad.  Because they have stronger flavors than the usual romaine or ice berg, they make a great base for other seasonal foods. Try escarole or arugula with pears and walnuts. Or try making a coleslaw with red cabbage and shredded kale—it is really delicious with dried cranberries or chunks of fresh apple added.

Flavor your winter veggies with leeks, onions and shallots. They can pretty much all be used interchangeably, but there are subtle flavor and pungency differences that may lead the eater to favor one over another. Try them raw, in salads; cooked, in just about any soup, stew, stir fry or casserole; or roasted, alone or mixed with other winter vegetables.

Winter fruits and vegetables are not the only edibles to be found at the winter markets.  Connecticut producers of beef, lamb, pork, chicken and even, in one market, duck, are found at all of the winter markets. Pick up potatoes, carrots, onions and beef or lamb for a Connecticut grown stew! Connecticut shoreline sourced seafood, including clams and lobster, is sold at several markets. Eggs, milk, yogurt and a wide array of artisan/farmstead cheeses are available as well. Locally produced animal protein foods can be a bit more pricey than the supermarket variety, but one taste and you will know that is was worth it. Give them a try and you will be hooked.

Finally, you might be lucky enough to find maple syrup, honey, locally produced cornmeal, dried beans, or pasta sauces made from Connecticut grown tomatoes, pickles and relishes made from a variety of vegetables from local farms.

And, keep in mind that the mid-winter diet calls for some seasonal vitamin C. While not grown locally, citrus fruits are certainly a seasonal food. It makes sense to add them to your grocery list at this time of year-even if you know they won’t be found at your local farmers’ market. First of all they provide vitamin C and other nutrients that might be difficult to find in a limited seasonal diet. Look for those grown in the US, including Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California, if that will make you feel better (local can be defined as you see fit, here!). Sliced oranges are great in winter salads made of a mixture of radicchio, escarole and endive. The sweetness of the oranges offsets the bitterness of the greens. Finish with some balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil. You can also use dried cherries or cranberries in this salad along with some walnuts or pecans.

Sprinkle orange juice over cooked beets or carrots, or use the rind in cranberry bread. Limes and their juice are often used in recipes that are Indian, Central American or Caribbean in origin. A bit of lime juice along with a handful of cilantro will make a black bean soup even better.

For more information on eating locally and seasonally, contact the Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271 for more information.

Import a Little Flavor in the Winter Months

By:     Diane Wright Hirsch

            Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety

 

pomegranate
Photo: Texas A&M University

OK, I admit it…. I just cannot eat totally “local” and “seasonal” during the winter. It’s just too hard at this time of year. And, also, so many cold weather menus and winter celebrations revolve around aromas, flavors and sensations that come from foods that do not grow in New England.

While you can still find locally grown root vegetables, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and apples, nary a Clementine or pomegranate, (they are seasonal, after all) is produced in Connecticut. Sure, I love hot locally produced apple cider and winter squash soup, but often I am reaching for cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to give seasonal flavor. A little bit of the imported stuff sure adds to the enjoyment of a seasonal diet when variety of locally produced foods is limited. So bring on just a taste of the far away and console yourself with the knowledge that some of these foods are seasonal—somewhere. Also, the transportation of the spices of life can’t possibly put too much of a strain on our oil reserves.

Some of my favorite winter imports

Clementines: December just wouldn’t be December without a box of Clementines on my counter. We go through boxes and boxes in just a few months. An easy-to-peel citrus fruit devoid of seeds (usually) and sweet and juicy…who could ask for anything more? Clementines are a fruit of the mandarin family, whose origins could have been in China or Algeria, depending on who you ask. Much of the fruit comes to the United States from Morocco and Spain. While Europeans have been blessed for years with the availability of this orange gem, the market in this country was created when there was a failed Florida citrus crop in the late 1990s. California Clementines are also available.

Cinnamon: The intense flavors of spices come from seeds that are dried and ground (the leaves of aromatic plants are referred to as “herbs”). Cinnamon has a long and interesting history. It was once so precious that wars were fought over it! Originally grown in Ceylon, a colony at various times of the Dutch, French and English, by the 1890s, Borneo, Sumatra, and Java were among the countries that cultivated cinnamon. Today it is also grown in South America and Caribbean countries. This spice is derived from the bark of a bush in the laurel family. You may use the ground form or the cinnamon “stick”, a curled up piece of the bark, also called a “quill.”

Pomegranates: The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated throughout Mediterranean region since ancient times. Today, it is grown throughout India and the drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa. Spanish settlers introduced the tree into California in 1769. In this country it is grown for its fruits mainly in the drier parts of California and Arizona. While produced most commonly for its juice or fruits that can be eaten out of hand, all parts of the tree have been used as sources of tannin for curing leather. The rind and flowers yield dyes for textiles. Today, pomegranates are sometimes included in lists of super foods. This is because they are full of anti-oxidants, which may be of benefit in staving off cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Nutmeg: I chose to feature nutmeg, because after all, we are the Nutmeg State! This could have been because trading ships brought nutmeg to our shores or, perhaps more interestingly, because peddlers used to try to pass off wood carved into nutmeg look-alikes to unsuspecting Connecticut settlers. Nutmegs come from an evergreen tree that is indigenous to southeast Asia. The nutmeg is the egg-shaped seed of the tree that is dried and sold whole for grating or as a ground spice. The cuisines of many countries, including India, the Middle East, Europe and Japan all enjoy a touch of this sweet spice. Our Connecticut holiday tables are likely to be graced with mulled cider, pumpkin pie and eggnog redolent with nutmeg. Today, nutmeg is produced primarily in Indonesia and Grenada.

Try a little nutmeg on your locally grown brussels sprouts. Of course, you will need to sprinkle some on the eggnog you make from Connecticut eggs and milk. Cinnamon in your cranberry sauce….a Clementine for an afternoon pick-me-up…..and a sprinkling of pomegranate berries on the salad made with farmer’s market spinach can add color, flavor and even some valuable vitamins to a New England winter meal.

Cilantro: Well, this herb is not commonly associated with winter, but as we are often cooking up chili or black bean soup during the colder months, I often head to the produce aisle for a bunch of cilantro. Cilantro is generally imported from Central America year around, but sometimes can be bought locally grown in the summer. And, of course, freezing the summer crop would be a good alternative to buying imported cilantro in winter. Unfortunately, cilantro (or coriander as it is sometimes called) has also been associated with more than its share of foodborne illness outbreaks. So, be sure to wash well before using, in cold running water. And if you have a compromised immune system, you might want to forego the cilantro altogether.

For more information, contact the Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

Dehydrate Some Local Apples: Preserve The Flavor

By:      Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH

            Extension Educator/Food

 

dried apple
Photo: National Center for Home Food Preservation

There is nothing quite like a fresh fall apple, crunchy sweet/tart and delicious. Fast forward to that supermarket apple in April. Mushy, grainy textured, with significantly less crunch and flavor. The season for apple growing usually comes to an end in November in Connecticut. Through the wonders of modern technologies and refrigeration, local orchards can keep apples long into winter and spring. But availability may come with a cost—flavor and texture may be altered.

So, why not take advantage of the abundance of local apples (and, perhaps pears as well) right now? Consider dehydrating them. A rather low-tech, almost food safety issue free, easy home food preservation method that can yield a sweet, midwinter snack.

Drying is one of the oldest methods of preserving foods—you will often see apple rings strung and hung up near the wood stove in displays of colonial kitchens. For moist foods, such as apples, dehydration includes increasing both the temperature of the food and air flow to allow for evaporation and removal of moisture.

Successful dehydration happens when you have the right balance of temperature and humidity. If there is too much humidity (which often plagues us in the Northeast) or too low a temperature, you may end up with moldy apples or fruit that could be contaminated with spoilage organisms or the bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

Dehydrating apples in your home kitchen

So, in your home kitchen you will need to employ both a source of heat and a method for removing the moisture from the air around the apples. The best and most efficient way to dry apples is to use a food dehydrator. These appliances are easy to find online and at retailers that cater to those who use dehydrated foods to lighten the load on camping or fishing trips. They range in size and cost. A small, stackable round unit will take up little space and cost as little as $30. You may often add more trays to increase your output. However, you do run the risk of uneven drying with these machines. Food closest to the heating element will dry fastest. Regular attention to rotating the trays is essential. This may be a good, less costly, way to get your feet wet.

Larger box type dehydrators with trays cost more ($200 or more). Some have timers; most have thermostats and more variations in heat settings. They may dehydrate more evenly, depending on the placement of the heat source—to the back vs the bottom or top of the unit.

You can also use your oven if you are just starting out and are not sure this is something that you will be doing on a regular basis. You will need to use an oven that can be set at a very low temperature—140-150 degrees F. Temperatures that are higher than this will lead to case hardening: the surface of the fruit dries and hardens while the interior stays moist, allowing for the growth of microorganisms and molds. A convection oven is great because of the increased airflow. But, you can also prop your oven door open a few inches and even place a fan to one side of the open door to drive off the moist air.

Preparing your apples

While most apples dry well, some prefer the quality of Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Empire or Cortland. Experiment to find your favorite.

Pick high quality apples, the fresher the better. Wash them well and remove any signs of decay. Slice in 1/8 to ½ inch slices. The thinner slices will dry firmer—like chips. You can peel the apples or leave the peels on. Peels can toughen during the drying process, so, again, experiment and see what you like best.

Pretreat the apple slices with a solution of lemon juice or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This will help to minimize browning and may have some antimicrobial properties as well. If using ascorbic acid, stir 2 1/2 tablespoons of pure ascorbic acid crystals into one quart of cold water. For smaller batches prepare a solution using 3 3/4 teaspoons of pure ascorbic acid crystals per 2 cups of cold water. Alternatively, combine equal parts of bottled lemon juice with water (one cup water and one cup lemon juice). Soak the apple slices for 10 minutes, drain, and they are ready to dry.

Generally, dehydration of apples is accomplished at around 140 degrees F. It can take as little as 5 hours or as long as 24 hours depending on your dehydrator/oven, the humidity in the air that day, and the thickness of your apple slice. This alone may be a good reason to invest in a smaller dehydrator rather than keeping your oven on for hours and hours.

Once you think they are done (should at least be leathery if not crisp), let the apples cool. Place them in a glass jar or air tight plastic container for several days. If moisture begins to collect on the surface of the container, you have not dried the apples long enough. Put them in the dehydrator or oven for several more hours.

You can store dried apples at room temperature in a cool, dry, dark location. A glass jar or air tight plastic will work. Use freezer bags if you want to use plastic bags. Regular food storage bags may let moisture in. They will be fine to eat for six to twelve months. If there are signs of molding or spoilage, then discard them.

For more information about dehydrating apples or other foods, visit the UConn Food Safety website at www.foodsafety.uconn.edu or contact the Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

Put Local on Your Tray

carrot posterTo our neighbors across the ocean, lunch in American schools is evidence of our culinary inferiority. The fact that one third of the nation’s children are growing up overweight and obese leads many to point a finger at school food. But in reality, the age of sloppy joes and tater tots is steadily giving way to salad bars, sweet potato fries, and vegetable chili. Major changes and healthier regulations for school meals that began in 2014 have shifted the menu toward whole grains, less sugar, less sodium, and more vegetables and fruit.

In fact, school meals are a vital part of a federal child nutrition strategy that provides healthy food to children and helps fight hunger and obesity. With the new emphasis on healthier meals, a wave of innovative efforts to add fresh, locally grown ingredients have emerged across the nation. These farm-to-school initiatives typically include school gardens, field trips to farms, nutrition education, as well as menus that feature seasonal flavors.

In Connecticut, the Put Local on Your Tray pilot project (Tray Project) helps Connecticut school districts source, serve, and celebrate a different local food product each month. Led by UConn Extension in close partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Tray Project has developed promotional materials to support school districts willing to feature one locally grown and seasonal product each month.

The Tray Project uses alluring and vibrant marketing materials including posters, stickers, and newsletter templates to educate the students about featured local foods. Using fun and engaging food puns such as “Kale, Yeah!—Don’t kale my vibe” or “Oh Snap!—I’m a Lean Green Bean Machine” have been key to generating a sense of fun and celebration around the new school lunch menu. The Tray Project assists participating school districts in building connections with local farms, sourcing local produce, and ensuring that cafeteria staff has what they need in order to process and serve fresh produce.

“This program has proved to be an invaluable component of our educational efforts at Middletown Public Schools to connect our students to local farms and agriculture while promoting overall wellness to enhance and maximize student achievement,” states Ava McGlew, MS, RD, CD-N, Food Service Director Middletown Public Schools.

Unlike similar ‘Harvest of the Month’ programs from other states, the Tray Project does not specify a month that each product should be used. This approach recognizes the true seasonality of produce young leaders for a year of paid public service building healthy school environments in limited resource communities. FoodCorps members build school gardens, teach nutrition and cooking, and help bring locally grown ingredients into the cafeteria.

“When kids have an opportunity to learn and engage with fruits and vegetables in a positive way, they are much more likely to eat them. “in Connecticut (e.g. kale is available from August through December in our state) and gives more flexibility to the school food service director who is making decisions about when to purchase and use a featured local ingredient.

Program Coordinator Dana Stevens and Outreach Coordinator Catherine Hallisey are currently working with four school districts including: Windham, East Hartford, Middletown, and Deep River. There are plans to expand to 15 districts for the 2016-2017 school year.

Over 2,000 students have participated in an interactive component of the program known as Local Tray Days. The Tray Project works with school districts to select one date for a cafeteria taste-test using kid-friendly recipes, and a second date, when the sampled local item is incorporated into the menu. Recipes include cider-glazed squash, kale chips, berry blast smoothies, and squash apple bisque.

“When kids have an opportunity to learn and engage with fruits and vegetables in a positive way, they are much more likely to eat them,” Dana explains. Students are asked to vote on what they thought of the local featured item. They can respond with one of the three options, tried it, liked it, or loved it.

According to USDA, schools report that farm to school programs can increase the number of students purchasing school breakfast and lunch, improve consumption of healthier foods at school, and reduce plate waste. There are 187 school districts in Connecticut, and 74 percent completed the USDA Farm to School Census. Of those, 70 percent are currently participating in farm to school activities, and another 19 percent have plans to start in the future.

Programs like Put Local on Your Trayare an easy way to bring more local foods into the cafeteria. By focusing on one local product each month, farmers can plan ahead to grow the food needed, and food service directors can build that local product into school menus. More local foods in schools results in more support for our farmers. This means more of our dollars stay in the community, and local economies are strengthened.

The Tray Project is a component of UConn Extension’s outreach and education on sustainable food systems, led by Associate Extension Educator Jiff Martin.

School Districts Invited to “Put Local on Your Tray” This Fall

carrot posterJust in time for National Farm To School Month in October, UConn Extension and its partners at the Connecticut State Department of Education, FoodCorps Connecticut, and the New England Dairy and Food Council are excited to announce an opportunity to participate in a new program called “Put Local On Your Tray”.

Put Local On Your Tray promotes local food in Connecticut schools. Participants receive support and materials that help school districts plan, serve, and celebrate locally grown food. “When kids have an opportunity to learn and engage with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables in a positive way, they are much more likely to eat them,” shared Dana Stevens, Program Director.

In the 2014-2015 school year, schools in Connecticut spent $7,244,580 on local food, and 70% of school districts that responded to the 2015 Farm to School Census offered farm-to-school programming; that’s 97 districts, 706 schools, and 355,489 students! Schools report that farm to school programs can increase the number of students purchasing school breakfast and lunch, improve consumption of healthier foods at school, and reduce plate waste.

Local procurement can be integrated into all types of child nutrition programs, including: breakfast, lunch, after-school snack, supper, and summer meals. Connecticut also celebrates CT Grown for CT Kids Week from October 3 – 7th, offering schools another opportunity to take one small step for farm to school.

Put Local On Your Tray has proved to be an invaluable component of our educational efforts at Middletown Public Schools to connect our students to local farms and agriculture while promoting overall wellness to enhance and maximize student achievement, states Ava McGlew, MS, RD, CD-N, Food Service Director Middletown Public Schools.

UConn Extension has developed posters, stickers, newsletters, and recipes to support school districts in connecting students to fresh, seasonal foods. Contact your school administrator or food service director to encourage participation in this new program.

Bovay Joins CAHNR

John BovayDr. John Bovay joined the ARE Department in August as Assistant Professor with 60% extension, 25% research, and 15% teaching responsibilities. We are excited to learn more about his extension and research interests.

  • Can you share any prior Extension and outreach experience you have?
    • Engaging with farmers and the public through outreach and extension has always been one of my goals as an agricultural economist. I’ve spent the last 4½ years working at the University of California Agricultural Issues Center and the USDA Economic Research Service, both of which publish reports designed to reach a wide audience, including policy makers, farmers and agribusinesses, as well as hosting conferences. Below, I post some links to outreach publications I’ve written on food-safety regulations and the safety of imported food.
  • What are your plans for your Extension program? Will this tie into your research, or past work?
    • I plan to create an Extension program that covers three broad topic areas. The first builds on my existing research on food labeling, food-safety regulations, and food loss/waste. Second, I will work with farmers to evaluate their on-farm energy production and use, and make sure that farmers are aware of all options and incentives available for energy conservation and generation. I expect to work closely with the green industry in this area. The third extension area will entail cost of production estimates for Connecticut farm commodities and marketing studies for local foods.
  • What course will you be teaching in ARE?
    • I’m teaching a course on Sustainable Agribusiness Management this fall. My students will apply economic principles to analysis of issues faced by agribusiness managers, evaluate the sustainability of existing agribusinesses, and develop a sustainable plan of operation and marketing for template Connecticut farms.
  • Anything else you want us to know?

I’ve been thrilled to discover that Connecticut has such a wealth of natural resources and open spaces to explore, including the state forests of the Last Green Valley and the UConn Forest (just a quick jog away from my office), the beaches at Bluff Point and Rocky Neck State Parks, and the magnificent Ray Tompkins Memorial Golf Course in New Haven.

Links
 
– Patterns in FDA Import Refusals Highlight Most Frequently Detected Problems. By John Bovay. Amber Waves, USDA Economic Research Service, 2016. http://ers.usda.gov
– Strict Standards Nearly Eliminate Salmonella from Ground Beef Supplied to Schools. By John Bovay and Michael Ollinger. Amber Waves, USDA Economic Research Service, 2015. http://ers.usda.gov
– How Does the Food Safety Modernization Act Affect Farms and Food Marketing Firms? By John Bovay and Daniel A. Sumner. ORECAL Issues Brief No. 007, 2013.

 

Live Local UConn Trail

iPad-landscapeLive Local Connecticut is a UConn Extension program encouraging residents to live locally through food and gardening, and ties into our Live Local app. The Live Local UConn Trail highlights a few locations in and around UConn’s Storrs campus where you can live locally.

UConn Trail:

Dog Lane Cafe – the menu and daily specials emphasize seasonal, local, and freshly-prepared food, all made to order.

UConn Dairy Bar – the award winning UConn Dairy Bar features delicious ice cream made from our own UConn cows.

UConn Blooms – serving the UConn community with high-quality flowers and plants for most occassions.

UConn Dining Food Trucks – “Food for Thought” and the “Ice Cream Truck” have hit the streets!

UConn Dining – Whitney Unit – Whitney “Local Routes” offers a sustainable and local menu featuring seasonal food items from a variety of local farmers and food producers including our own UConn Gold honey, UConn eggs, UConn Dairy Bar ice cream and produce from the UConn EcoGarden.

Chuck & Augies – Chuck & Augie’s is located in the UConn Student Union and participates in Connecticut’s Farm-to-Chef celebration. Farm-to-Chef Week was started by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture in 2010 as part of its year-round Farm-to-Chef program. This special week encourages culinary professionals to use Connecticut Grown ingredients in new ways on their menus while it also helps residents and visitors learn more about the diversity of farm products grown and raised in Connecticut. Each year during this week, Chuck & Augie’s award winning chefs design a new and creative menu featuring locally grown foods from Connecticut and the region, including fresh produce grown at UConn’s own Spring Valley Student Farm and Dining Services’ Not Just Desserts Bakery.

Visit the UConn Animal Barns – Everyone is welcome to explore our animal barns and learn more about the animals that are used in the Department of Animal Science program. Visitors can see dairy and beef cows, sheep, and horses. The poultry units are closed to the public.

Storrs Farmers Market – Since 1994, Storrs Farmers Market has been proud to provide the greater Mansfield community with fresh, local produce, meats, dairy, baked goods, and more.

UConn Farm Fresh Market – UConn offers a Farm Fresh Market in season on Fairfield Way. The market offers fresh local produce from our own Spring Valley Student Fam and other local farms, baked goods from our Not Just Desserts bakery, local honey, and many other local products each week.

Tri-County Greenhouse – Tri-County Greenhouse is open year round and offers products grown on site, unique to the season. Tri-County Greenhouse is a division of the nonprofit agency Tri-County ARC INC. Their goal is to provide individuals with disabilities paid training and meaningful work experience in a retail horticultural setting. Tri-County Greenhouse is located adjacent to the UConn Depot Campus.

Farmer’s Cow Calfe – Merging the fun environment of a dairy bar with a neighborhood cafe, and the ability to purchase the full line of The Farmer’s Cow products all in one place. Plus, experience our one-of-a-kiind milk bar. The Calfe is located just a short distance from UConn.

For more information on how to Live Local in Connecticut, download our app, or visit the website.

CT 10% Campaign Celebrates 1 Year

Clemson cucumbersUConn Extension with CitySeed of New Haven and its BuyCTGrown.com project are excited to celebrate their first full year growing the ‘buy local’ movement. Since its launch in August 2013, the CT 10% Campaign’s consumer and business pledgees together have tracked over $800,000 spent on locally grown (raised and caught) products. With over 400 consumers and 100+ business partners, the movement is growing! For a list of the 10% Business Partners, visit www.buyctgrown.com/pledge-­‐partners-­‐0.

Taking the Pledge and buying local from farmers, nurseries, restaurants, and businesses has never been easier! In addition to the 10% dashboard displaying the Campaign’s stats, the buyCTgrown website has become an online hub of CT agricultural news, events, features and products by zip code. Now that it’s peach, pear, plum and apple season, buyCTgrown is excited to be promoting their limited edition Pick Your Own crop cards. These cards feature Sing Along Songs, fun facts, and a delicious recipe and can be retrieved from participating farms, as listed on the website.

“What better time of year to celebrate this campaign’s successes and look forward to our opportunities to grow than in August,” says Amanda Freund, UConn Extension’s Business Coordinator for the 10% Campaign. “Right now farmers markets, stands and farm to table restaurants are promoting late summer berries, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucurbits and the whole variety of tree fruits (and more)!”

Collectively, CT residents spend 2.5% of their food purchases on locally grown products. The CT 10% Campaign hopes to engage consumers and raise individual local purchases up to 10%! By taking the Pledge, participants are encouraged to spend 10% of their food and gardening dollars on locally grown.

“Our UConn community and our students feel very strongly about knowing where their food is coming from. We work with our produce vendor to be able to specify locally grown products, so we can use them in all our residential facilities and retail locations.” Dennis Pierce, Executive Director of UConn Dining Services recently shared his reasons for why UConn Dining took the 10% Pledge. “It helps the economy, puts a face on CT produce, especially when we can highlight the farmers and farms our produce is coming from and it brings community together.”

The CT 10% Campaign is funded generously by USDA, CT Department of Agriculture and private foundations.