In recent years, consumers have been interested in locally grown products, creating a shift in how the public buys their food. Therefore, small farmers are now in the spotlight and have an opportunity to supply the demand for locally grown produce.
Local Farms and Their Importance
Local farms play a large role in supplying different agricultural commodities across Florida. According to 2022 Florida’s Agriculture and Food System Fast Facts, Florida produces 200 – 300 agricultural commodities. In 2019, when considering multiplier effects, Florida’s agriculture and food system supported $270.07 billion in sales revenue and more than 2,000,000 jobs supporting the state’s economy, with each county having some agricultural presence.
Agricultural Commodities of Florida
Florida has a diverse selection of agricultural commodities that directly impact the state’s economy and the geographic location of these commodities varies across the state. Florida is divided into 3 main areas (southern, central, and northern), where different products are grown. Some of these products are:
- Fruits and Tree Nuts
- Watermelons and other types of melons
- Tropical fruits
- Vegetable Productions
- Sweet corn
- Cucumbers and other cucurbits
- Green beans
- Field and Row Crops
- Horticulture and Nursery
- Ornamental and native plants
- Animal Production
- Beef cattle
- Dairy cattle
- Timber and Forestry
If you want to know where a specific Florida agricultural commodity is grown, click here.
Consumers and Local Production
As mentioned, consumers are changing the way they buy their produce. Recently, an increase in locally grown products has become the norm. One reason consumers want local products is freshness. Most consumers agree that they prefer a recently harvested product to one traveling for weeks to reach its destination, losing its nutritional value in the process. Another reason consumers prefer to buy local produce could be reducing the carbon footprint (local products travel fewer distances therefore less carbon emissions) or want to support the state or local economy.
More people are attending local farmer’s markets to find products that are produced in Florida. At the same time, consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from, especially if they can track it to a local farm (farm to table). Some consumers even enjoy the local interaction with the farm’s owner at the farmer’s markets or roadside stands.
Consumers may also be influenced by marketing. If a product is marketed as local or even Florida-grown, it attracts consumers. Some are even willing to pay a higher price when selecting local products. Not all consumers think the same, but there is definitely an increased trend to buy locally-grown products. If farmers can offer locally-grown products, they could increase their revenue and return on investment. It is also important for the farmers to familiarize themselves with local demographics because this may affect how, when, and whether your product is of interest to the local public.
For more information about Florida’s consumer behaviors click here.
Southwest Florida Small Farmers Network (SWFSFN)
The Southwest Florida Small Farmers Network (SWFSFN) is a group of UF/IFAS agents from the Southwest Region connecting growers to a resource network focused on diversified and sustainable farming systems. We assist beginner, new, and established farmers from Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties. Many resources about crop management, production, and marketing, are provided to farmers to support their agricultural commodities and assist with problem-solving of any aspects of their farms and product quality. For more information about the SWFSFN click here.
2023 Fall Southwest Florida Small Farmer Network (SWFSFN) Meeting
On Friday, November 3, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, the SWFSN will host a meeting at Circle C Farm (14820 FL-29 Felda, FL 33930) in Hendry County. Circle C Farm raises pasture grass-fed, grass-finished, free-range, beef, lamb, broiler chickens, turkey, pork, duck, eggs, and honey. They are the first and only farm in Florida to have an On Farm USDA Federally Inspected and Custom Inspected Abattoir (Slaughterhouse) and butcher shop. They will be sharing their upcoming food projects on the farm. This meeting will focus on sourcing and distribution for local markets for small and mid-size producers. Come and join us, learn more about local production and distribution, and connect with other farmers in the Southwest Region of Florida. For registration, access the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2023-fall-southwest-florida-small-farmer-network-meeting-tickets-732331161217
For more information About Community Food System Click here:
For more information about UF/IFAS Small Farms click here:
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