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Agriculture Press Release

June 27, 2001

Project increases locally grown produce available to institutional buyers in Daytona Beach

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced a new project that will benefit Central Florida farmers and Daytona Beach area institutions that purchase produce.

The project, sponsored by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Daytona Beach Partnership, will help enhance opportunities for local growers to supply more than 1,500 local institutions including hospitals, hotels, resorts, restaurants, schools, childcare centers and golf courses.

"Florida farmers and consumers both will benefit from this program," Bronson said. "Growers will be able to increase their sales, buyers for local institutions will have more options resulting in lower prices, and consumers will enjoy more fresh, locally produced fruits and vegetables."

The project is funded by a $25,900 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Florida was among 13 states to receive matching grants from the USDA under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. All grants totaled $644,650.

The goal of the project is to offer a new channel of trade between produce growers and institutional food buyers within the Daytona Beach Farmersí Market that results in more locally grown produce being used by local institutions and lessening the reliance on national and regional food distributors. The project will focus on citrus, lettuce, strawberries and watermelons, all of which are grown locally and have significant representation at the farmersí market with 27 vendors.

The project offers an alternative to the large national and regional food distribution firms for institutional food buyers for fruits and vegetables. This will result in direct farmer-to-buyer purchases, fresher fruits and vegetables for end-users, and lower prices for buyers as a result of savings from regional warehousing and transportation. Further, local fruit and vegetable growers will benefit from increased demand, higher profits, and an improved appreciation contributing to the local economy.

The Daytona Beach Partnership will manage day-to-day operations of the project and perform an evaluation. Results of the project, which will serve as a demonstration project for alternative distribution processes for farmers, will be shared with similar markets throughout the state

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services supports the project, which furthers the Departmentís goals of growing new markets for farmers, creating direct from-farmer-to-customer distribution systems, and promoting the consumption of fresh produce in urban areas.

The Daytona Beach Farmersí Market marks its 30th anniversary this year. As one of the stateís oldest, it is also of the largest with about 30 farmers depending on weather and season. Several farmers have been with the market since its founding, with a second generation now operating their farms and stands. The market includes other items from Central Florida in addition to produce, including baked goods, eggs, seafood, plants, flowers, nuts and coffee.

The farmers market, located on City Island in downtown Daytona Beach, operates on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The U-shaped market includes more than 1,100 linear feet, with each farmer averaging about 40 feet in selling frontage, has parking for 400 vehicles, and attracts two tour buses each week during the winter months.

The Downtown Business and Professional Association has served as a traditional merchants association for nearly 30 years. As part of its 2000 reorganization to expand services to the downtown district, the association received state designation as a Florida Main Street community and changed its name to the Daytona Beach Partnership.

The Partnership now serves as an umbrella with several member organizations benefitting from a centralized professional staff. They are Riverfront Marketplace, Daytona Beach Farmersí Market, Old City Historic Daytona Neighborhood, Uptown Neighborhood, and the Friends of Daytona Beach Community Foundation.

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