LEWISTON — Over 50 people from around the state — wholesale food purchasers, food producers, and interested community members — gathered for an inaugural social event designed to increase Farm to Institution activity called Central Maine Meet the Buyers, hosted by The Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn on November 4 at the Franco Center in Lewiston.
During the event, all participants had an opportunity to introduce their business to the cohort and share personal reflections of either barriers encountered or solutions found to successful local food wholesale selling and purchasing. Local Farm to Institution experts also presented on resources available, such as new grant-funded assistance for GAP certification for Maine farmers. There was also time for networking and enjoying a locally-sourced meal. After the event, contact information for those in attendance was emailed to the group.
“So when we finally put up the mobile high tunnel this year, we had a pristine location in which to grow a test plot of about 20 row feet of gorgeous, perfect arugula…however after checking in with our usual natural food stores and restaurant buyers…most of it ended up in the compost,” shared Karen Bolduc, director at Food Joy and South Auburn Organic Farm, and Vice Chair of the Good Food Council of L-A . “Timing and quantity for local wholesale growing and procurement are tough challenges to overcome. I’m so glad to see this much local interest to discuss solutions.”
The event was made possible by sponsorship from Grow L+A, Bates College, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Oxford MicroDistribution Project, R. Belanger and Son’s Farm, The Maine Network of Community Food Councils and the Maine Food Atlas.