Growers and buyers set for a round of speed dating

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By Brandon Mattingly

Louisville Farm to Table and Washington County Cooperative Extension are collaborating once again to provide local farmers with an opportunity to meet buyers from Bardstown, Louisville and Lexington.

Local growers and producers will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential buyers at the Washington County Extension Office on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
A similar meeting was held at St. Catharine College on Oct. 20, but this time the focus will be on farmers who produce vegetables, whereas the October meeting covered a broader range of food items.
Extension agent Dennis Morgeson said this week’s event will be smaller in scale than the one at St. Catharine, but he expects farmers will find this meeting to be as beneficial.
“The event at St. Catharine was very successful. We had 160 people there that day, and the verbal feedback that I got from growers was that they made a lot of contacts,” Morgeson said. “This meeting will be much smaller than that one. We’re figuring probably 20 growers to be here, and probably about seven or eight buyers. It’s going to be much smaller because it’s specific to vegetables.”
Morgeson said buyers may be open to purchasing other products, but their focus at the meeting will be on produce.
All local growers and producers are welcome to attend, and buyers that are expected to attend include: Grasshoppers Distribution (Louisville), Roby’s Country Gardens, Grow Farms, Creation Gardens and Papania’s.
The buyers are mass food suppliers for restaurants, hospitals, sports venues, Kroger stores, etc.
Morgeson said the meeting will use the same method as speed dating, as growers and producers will rotate from station-to-station every 30 to 40 minutes, meeting potential buyers at each stop.
“It’s going to allow the growers to have face-to-face contact with buyers, where they can discuss pricing, contracts and what products (the buyers) are wanting,” he said. “It’s basically bringing the buyer and the farmer together, which is generally hard to do.”
Morgeson added that Louisville has a thriving food economy, so there is plenty of incentive for local growers to build connections at the meeting.
“Louisville is a multi-billion dollar food economy and they’re wanting more local foods, so this is a good opportunity to get our growers and producers some cash flow,” he said.