A Grant to Eat Local Longer & Reduce Waste

This spring, we were awarded a $48,000 grant from the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection. The purpose of the grant is to increase sales of local food and farm income. Over the next two years, we will use these funds to travel to farmers markets and buy ingredients for our deli directly from farmers; to increase the presence local frozen fruits and vegetables; and to buy seasonal and blemished crops from area farms to produce value-added items that we can then sell in-store, including pesto, granola, applesauce, and chicken stock.

The grant not only assists with the extra labor and transportation required of this project but also equipment for the processing and storage of more food at our store. The lack of frozen storage and processing equipment has been a  barrier to our season extension efforts in the past.

We’re excited about this work because it will create a new source of income for vendors who have never sold to us before. It will also create a new market for their blemished produce, which will allow us to stretch our relatively short Wisconsin harvest season and use more local food throughout the year. This project will also reduce waste in our local food system. For example, we will be turning chicken backs and necks into bone broth and turning blemished berries, apples, and tomatoes into canned, frozen, and dried products that we can use in our deli recipes year-round. These local foods may have been discarded if not sold, but now we’re using them, thus reducing waste.

Watch for more updates on this project and tasty new products from it on our shelves in the coming months!

This article was originally published in the August/September 2020 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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