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Fresh strategies for just-picked produce

Plus ça change. The French say – preferably over a beverage – that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tom Komienski, a veteran produce seller at the Ontario Food Terminal (OFT), could easily argue the point that local produce has never meant so much to so many. He’s standing beside boxes brimming with beans, a standard for July. The human impulse for the season’s just-picked never changes. There’s always demand for the al dente tenderness of a locally-grown green bean.

His family has been meeting those needs since 1952, growing Norfolk County vegetables. That 70-year arc of history now includes a world pandemic and that’s prompted changes in farm operations and retailer buying strategies.

“I think there’s a renewed energy to get back to normal,” says Komienski. “The restaurant trade is coming back, looking for that feature ingredient to make an asparagus soup, for example. Most growers are optimistic except for the rising production costs of fuel, fertilizer and containers.”

Normal does not mean status quo. Near Scotland, Ontario, the home farm is now growing more than a thousand acres of vegetables as varied as asparagus, beans, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins and squash. This is the first year to market organic asparagus. And Komienski notes that independent green grocers-- East Indian, Asian and Arab --are all looking to fill their niche.

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