Panel discussion with producers (Kira Olsson)
According to Mike Reekse, a farmer with Rio Del Rey Heirloom Beans, there are three primary reasons why he attends the Good Food Showcase every year - the opportunity to build awareness around local farm offerings, relationship building, and an opportunity to share failures and successes with his farming peers.
“You are in a place where there are institutions – schools, hospitals, universities – actively looking to acquire good, local produce. They may or may not be able to use a farmer’s product, but the awareness and learning about their farms, what they are growing and what they are doing is valuable.”
The Farm to Institution Center hosts the Good Food Showcase event which promotes community health through food service, education, and community. The Good Food Showcase makes it easy for local Southern California growers and distributors to connect with the institutional market, helping to expand San Diego’s local economy and encouraging more consumption of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.
Along with the trade show, the showcase this year included two panel discussions. The first panel featured a local produce distributor panel, discussing the pathways to buying and selling local food. Panelists included representatives from Specialty Produce, Sunrise Produce, and Moceri Produce. The second event session included small group breakout discussions, highlighting both potential and already successful relationships between farmers and good food purchasers.
The Good Food Showcase makes it easy for local Southern California growers and distributors to connect with the institutional market,
helping to expand San Diego’s local economy and access to fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. (Kira Olsson)
For Reekse, one of the biggest takeaways from this year’s showcase was not only sharing his business with interested institutional buyers, but learning about organizations in the community and about the support that they can offer to farmers.
“I had several new contacts coming out of the event,” he says.
Tracy Pompeo, UC San Diego Health dietetic intern was excited by the potential of institutional investment in farm-to-tray partnerships, “It was very interesting to hear the stories of the local farmers and how they were able to grow in their business and work with distributors to get their product to various businesses like UC San Diego Health, local schools, and other restaurants.
We also talked about the ways that institutions like UC San Diego Health, have helped by bridging the gap, making it possible for smaller farms to participate in this distribution.”
“Hearing about how UC San Diego Health and other large institutions work together with local produce distributors to provide local produce to patients, employees, and guests was great!” adds Pompeo, “It helps build our community and supports our local farmers.”