REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio – A national program connecting food producers to local restaurants, grocery stores and wholesale buyers is being launched in Ohio. The first training workshop takes place March 9.
Retail Ready is supported by the Ohio Direct Marketing Team, which includes leadership from Ohio State University Extension and representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, as well as other state and local partners.
"ODA is helping launch this initial roll-out and the program is evolving with support from the national MarketMaker network, the Ohio Food Policy Council, Market Connections Task Force and others," said Julie Fox, OSU Extension direct marketing and tourism development state specialist. "A number of Extension personnel have also been involved in the development of the program and the plans for this initial roll-out."
Retail Ready is designed to prepare Ohio food producers in taking the next steps to expand their business, as well as increase business relationships with existing customers. University of Kentucky developed the national program and Ohio is one of the first states to provide the educational training sessions to producers throughout the state.
"Growth in demand for local foods, together with the growth in direct marketing by small and medium-scale producers amplifies the need for grower training on what buyers need to more readily fit into their buying conventions," said Tim Wood of University of Kentucky. "Most buyers are anxious to work with local growers to market their local products, but have also expressed frustration at the lack of grower awareness of their preferred buying practices. This training should help growers and retailers build more successful market relationships."
The inaugural March 9 training program will be held at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The 4-H Center is located at 2201 Fred Taylor Drive in Columbus, Ohio. For more information, contact Lori Panda at 614-466-8798.
Other training sessions scheduled include:
Peninsula: March 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; The Cuyahoga Valley National Park Happy Days Visitors Center; 500 W. Streetsboro Rd.; Contact: Christy Eckstein, 614-728-6438 or Amalie Lipstreu, 614-466-6198.
Xenia: March 23, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; Greene County Fairgrounds; 120 Fairground Rd.; Contact: Beth Bridgeman, 937-372-9971 or Brian Raison, 937-440-3945.
Athens: April 5, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; ACENET, Food Ventures Center; 94 Columbus Rd.; Contact: Leslie Schaller, 740-592-3854.
Bowling Green: April 13, 4-7 p.m.; Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen; 13737 Middleton Pike; Contact: Paula Ray, 419-823-3099.
To request a registration form or to receive more information, contact the Ohio Proud office at 800-467-7683 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Retail Ready program information is also available by visiting http://directmarketing.osu.edu.