COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the appetite for local foods continues to grow, Ohio State University Extension is celebrating the movement Aug. 9-15 with the first-ever Ohio Local Foods Week.
The week’s organizers are encouraging participation among organizations small and large that provide local foods, including growers, farmers markets, community markets, farm stands, u-pick operations, community-supported agriculture groups, grocery stores and restaurants. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
“Think about it as a way to share your local foods story with customers,” said Heather Neikirk, OSU Extension educator who co-leads Extension’s Local Foods Signature Program with fellow educator Patrice Powers-Barker.
“Ohio Local Foods Week is a great opportunity to talk about how you got started in the local foods system.”
Participation can take many forms, Powers-Barker said, such as:
- Arranging a local foods taste-test event.
- Labeling local products and supplying information to customers about where they came from.
- Providing specials on local foods.
- Featuring local products in advertisements and on websites.
- Inviting local food producers to do a food demonstration or attend a “meet the farmer” gathering.
- Organizing a farm or community garden tour.
- Posting fliers to promote Ohio Local Foods Week.
- Encouraging customers to participate in the week’s challenge to spend at least $10 on local foods during that week.
The Signature Program’s website, localfoods.osu.edu, makes it easy to participate, Powers-Barker said, by providing a toolkit with templates to create event fliers, a sample proclamation that can be used locally, a handout with background information on local foods, a flier to encourage customers to participate in the week’s local food challenge and other resources.
Anyone organizing an event can also have it listed on the website by emailing Neikirk or Powers-Barker with the event name, date, time, location, a one-sentence description, and contact name and information at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The website also has a page with links to online local foods directories.
“We are encouraging consumers to use those online directories to find more opportunities to buy local foods,” Powers-Barker said. “And if a business that sells local foods isn’t listed in those directories, they should take advantage. Some are free, and some require membership in an organization or a nominal fee. But it’s a great way to get the word out that you provide access to local food.”