Buy local program could be boon for area farmersSchools and hospitals are getting together in the Ashland area to buy most of their food from local producers. Organizers hope it’ll end a long, hard economic time for small farmers.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Schools and hospitals are getting together in the Ashland area to buy most of their food from local producers. Organizers hope it’ll end a long, hard economic time for small farmers.
Eileen McCutcheon and her husband operate the 105-acre Angel Acres organic farm in Mason.
“It has been an excruciating recession,” she said
McCutcheon and a couple of dozen other food producers within 100 miles of Ashland are taking part in a new “buy local” program organized by Northland College. The liberal arts college with an environmental emphasis is increasing the amount of locally produced food it buys from 10 percent now to 25 percent next year, with an ultimate goal of more than 80 percent.
Northland College Sustainability Coordinator Nathan Engstrom says this means more money will stay in the area.
“So you start to think of billions of dollars in food purchases a year, let’s say in the state of Wisconsin and the fact that most of those dollars are leaving our state, many of them are going around the globe, certainly around the country,” Engstrom said. “Those dollars equal jobs and the more of those we can keep local, creating new opportunities for younger farmers.”
McCutcheon of Angel Acres says combining organizations like hospital and public schools that consume lots of food will mean more business for them, so they in turn spend more money locally.
“It’s great if we can just keep it flowing and keep it going,” McCutcheon said. “Right now we’re still in negotiations so they haven’t actually purchased anything from us, but I’m hopeful.”
Northland College hopes to get Ashland Memorial Hospital and area public schools to join the “buy local food” program.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.