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Ohio’s Specialty Crops A Boost to Food Service Menus


Introduction Locally grown fruits and vegetables are making their way into the kitchens of schools, universities, health care centers, and restaurants throughout Ohio. These institutions are responding to requests from their customers to make the food as wholesome and delicious as possible. Executive chefs and directors of food service institutions across the state are discovering the value that Ohio grown fruits and vegetables bring to the table. The freshness, color, and great taste make the meals prepared with fresh produce more appetizing. Recipes come to life and participation increases as food becomes more appealing. As a result, any increased costs are typically more than compensated for by increased revenue. Ohio’s Specialty Crops: A Boost to Food Service Menus is intended to be a resource for specialty-crop producers (individually or producers working together) who want to sell their produce to a full-service distributor (also known as a broadliner), a wholesale produce distributor, or directly to an institutional food service buyer. Farmers are encouraged to learn what they can do to meet the needs of buyers within the institutional food service supply chain. The Agroecosystems Management Program at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) with the support from the

Ohio Department of Agriculture and funded by the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program conducted a research project that led to this publication. Institutional food services were questioned about their interest in purchasing Ohio produced specialty crops. We wanted to find out if institutions, as a group, provided a viable marketing opportunity for Ohio specialty crop producers. We found that many institutions want to provide Ohio produced specialty crops to their clients. The institutions surveyed were candid about what they needed from producers in order to commit to purchasing local specialty crops on a significant scale. Discussions with grower groups

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revealed their concerns as well. This publication will address issues on both ends of the supply chain. Ohio’s Specialty Crops: A Boost to Food Service Menus is a compilation of suggestions and recommendations from a number of sources. Several profiles are included that showcase successful programs, interesting collaborations and opportunities for agricultural entrepreneurs. An advisory group made up of farmers and food service personnel provided valuable insight and advice. Many resources from other organizations and associations are referenced. Food service directors and executive chefs will find ideas on how to source healthy and fresh Ohio-grown produce


Much of Kenyon’s local food supply comes from a nearby produce auction from the county’s Amish community Courtesy the Rural Life Center, Kenyon College

for their kitchens. This can be done by buying directly off the farm and through existing distribution networks which include auctions, wholesalers, and brokers. Understanding the supply chain, knowing how a specific product is grown and when it is ready to harvest are all important. This allows the kitchen to plan seasonal menus, optimize purchasing during peak production, and share their commitment to local sourcing. The interest in sourcing locally by all types of institutions and businesses is based on some basic benefits that result in strengthening local food systems and building local economies. These benefits include:

• increasing jobs and food related entrepreneurial opportunities for Ohioans; • circulating food dollars locally; • maintaining a rural landscape with prosperous and productive farms of all sizes, capable of supporting future generations of food producers; • building relationships within the community for mutual support; • in the case of colleges and universities—satisfying student advocates and improving compliance with administrative directives for sustainability. • creating enjoyment for Ohioans with fresh fruits and vegetables harvested at their delicious and healthful peak. Ohio has ideal soils, climate, and growing conditions to produce a variety of fruits and vegetables. Farm operations throughout the state have the ability to produce, harvest, and deliver these fresh crops by developing local supply chains. Ohio specialty crop farmers are using low cost hoop houses and high tunnels to extend the growing season and produce crops throughout the year. Expanding market opportunities beyond the farmers’ market helps producers build their operations. A 2

broader customer base increases marketing options. Operational efficiencies can improve. The farmer can better plan, prepare, and optimize farm income. To serve Ohio fruits and vegetables at Ohio’s institutions, a few demands are placed on Ohio farmers. Relationships need to be established and links within the supply chain need to be strengthened. Issues of supply, consistency, convenience, and cost must be addressed. Food safety assurances join such practical issues as delivery schedules and menu creation. The farmer needs to know the level of quality, consistency, and efficiency expected by institutional food-service administrators. Food service directors and executive chefs need to know the uncertainty of farming and allow for flexibility. We hope this guide furthers these understandings. Institutions are also encouraged to consider other Ohio produced farm products as they increase their commitment to local sources. These products could include fresh or processed meats, eggs, cheese, dairy, or grains. The basic considerations in this publication will still apply. s


Making Connections The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and The Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Direct Marketing Group have developed the MarketReady Training Program. Ohio farmers can benefit from participating in the training that guides the producer through the important steps needed to establish successful relationships with wholesale buyers and food-service institutions. It covers many practical considerations to help the farmer prepare and plan for any marketing opportunity. The program is a daylong workshop featuring both presenters and a comprehensive workbook loaded with information, sample documents, checklists, and resources. The MarketReady Training Program provides detailed information for marketing to restaurants and grocery stores in addition to wholesale foodservice companies. The day-long workshops are held at various locations throughout the state and are taught by extension specialists. OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio manages the program. Call 740-2892071, extension 225 for more information and schedules.

tive food-service buyers. What institutions or schools are close to your operation? Contact the executive chef or the food service director. Be prepared to discuss specifics and to listen to the needs of the buyer. Have an information sheet prepared listing your primary products, approximate harvest dates, and all your contact information. This can also be a great way to share the story of your farm operation with prospective customers. Food service buyers are busy folks—

Communication and Relationship Building It is usually up to the farmer to make the initial contact with prospec3

just as farmers are—so it’s good to start the process early in the season and come to an understanding about the best way to keep in touch as harvest approaches. It may be a weekly phone call or email, but work out in advance what will be the most convenient way to stay in communication. As time goes on, invitations to the farm, providing samples of new varieties, and providing educational information may go a long way to building a long term and profitable relationship.


Products The food service establishments we interviewed identified ten crops in high demand that grow well in most regions of Ohio including lettuce, strawberries, apples, broccoli, carrots, onions, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and melons. Deciding what to grow depends on many considerations. These considerations include the size of your growing area, how the crops are being grown, labor issues, harvest techniques, and special requirements. What is meant by “local”? There is a wide range of meanings for the word “local.” Colleges and universities appear more aware of the concept and make more conscientious “local” purchasing decisions than other institutions. Some of the definitions of local include: in state, 150 mile radius, or one day from harvest. For the purpose of this booklet, consider local to be Ohio grown.

have the product on their loading dock and, working backwards, coordinate your harvest, packing, and deliverywork schedule. The farm crew should have proper training in how to pick and cut for harvest, how to use and clean equipment, and be aware of how the job they do affects the quality of the product. Prepare the packing shed to wash, pack, and cool the product. Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) or Sanitation Prerequisite Programs (PRP) are a part of any GAP, GHP, or other food safety certification program. Ensure that the facility and equipment are clean and ready to operate. Food safety has been described in greater detail in a separate section of this booklet. Institutional buyers want to know how the grower maintains the product quality up to the time when they take possession of the product on their dock.

Product Quality and Grade Buyers look for uniformity and consistency in the product. Buyers may specify the product grade when they place an order. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service publishes standards for most fresh fruit and vegetable products which define a product grade by size or color and the acceptable tolerances. Become familiar with the standards for your products. Most buyers will understand that locally grown produce may have more variation, but they still expect a high quality product. Top specialty crops grown in Ohio and purchased by food service establishments and institutions include lettuce, strawberries, apples, broccoli, carrots, onions, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and melons. Labeling Each box or crate of fruits and vegetables leaving your farm should be properly labeled. A professional looking label helps market your product by providing important information to the buyer. The label should include the farm name, address, contact information, the type of produce, and the unit of measure (weight or count) of the product. The label should also have specific instructions about maintaining a certain temperature or other handling requirements, if appropriate. Every farm should have a GAP traceability program in place that requires a specific-traceability label on each lot of product which identifies the field location and the harvest date. Thorough records must be kept. For most vegetables, labeling the box is

Investigate what varieties will work best for your operation and for your institutional customers. Find out how the products will be prepared and used in the food-service’s kitchen. Consider how season extension techniques can help stretch out the harvest. Getting a crop in extra early or having saleable product well after the frost date is important in meeting the demand of institutional food service establishments. Harvest and Post-Harvest Considerations for harvest and postharvest planning begin by establishing a timeline based on the need of the institution. Understand when they want to 4


sufficient but some growers may choose to label each product individually. The traceability label allows the product to be tracked from the field and through the supply chain in the event the product has to be recalled or withdrawn from the market. The OSU Extension Fruit and Vegetable Safety Program Workbook provides examples of suitable traceability labels. Some food-service establishments may also provide UPC bar codes for the producer to add to their labels. This helps the buyer keep track of their inventory. Check with the buyer for specifics and work these out well ahead of your busy harvest time. Other farm products, such as eggs, cheese, and meats will have additional labeling requirements based on USDA or Ohio Department of Agriculture specifications. Most institutional food services use less than three, usually just one, food service provider for their purchases of specialty crops. Colleges and universities use a produce supplier; public schools and other institutions usually use a broadliner supplier for produce purchases.

Food-grade cardboard boxes should be new and intended for the packing of produce. Clean, plastic liners may be an alternative if you don’t use new boxes. Reusable crates must be cleaned and maintained according to your GAP and GHP program.

regulation before loading up a truck for delivery. There is a mileage limitation for deliveries and crossing state lines may be an issue. Check with the Ohio Department of Transportation or the county driver’s license bureau for more details.

Delivery Making arrangements for delivery may be a challenge in the early stages of working with institutional buyers. Maintaining product quality, providing the agreed upon quantity and on-time delivery are essential. A farmer can make the delivery himself, consolidate the load with other growers, or work with a commercial delivery service. Explore these options prior to your busy harvest time. Factor the cost of delivery into your production budget. Delivery vehicles must maintain sanitation standards. Refrigeration units are preferred whenever possible. The MarketReady Training Program explains the use of commercial delivery companies and how a Bill of Lading is used to track the product to its final destination. Make sure you understand the details of the farm exemption for the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Pricing Learning how to price your product is an important chapter in the MarketReady Training Program. A grower must know their cost of production and the margin they need in order to make a profit. With this information, you can better negotiate with a buyer who wants a source for fresh locally grown product. Prices received in the wholesale market will be lower than the prices received from selling directly off the farm or at a retail farmers’ market. The tradeoff is the opportunity to move a larger quantity of product with fewer transactions, and doing so more efficiently.

Packaging Clean boxes—sized, packed, and stacked according to conventional standards—are important. Most buyers will be specific about what they will accept. Auction houses have specific packaging standards that their customers expect and will likely have this information posted on their website. Even if you wish to sell directly to food-service establishments, you can use these resources so you will know the packing standards most wholesale buyers are expecting. 5

Administrative Establish how orders will be taken. Will your order form be a master checklist showing all your products and pricing; will you send a weekly updating email; how will telephone calls be handled? How much lead-time is needed


Food Service Perspective Using produce from local sources in an institutional kitchen takes planning but it is certainly feasible and can be done successfully with substantial benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and increased demand. Food service directors and executive chefs who have been successful in establishing a local-source program encourage others to start slowly and with something easy. For example, consider buying locally grown apples during the late summer and fall, or a quantity of tomatoes for a late-summer pasta sauce special. Courtesy the Rural Life Center, Kenyon College Convenience and cost effectiveness of the program are major considerfrom the time of harvest until you ship Food service companies will want to ations. Expect some start-up time and your products? What will you do if you set up your farm in their purchase order expense as you research how and where can’t fill the order? These are some issues system prior to issuing payments. Getthe best place is to buy your local prodthat need to be thought through before ting this done early in the season may uct. Here are some suggestions for ways the growing season. If good communihelp prevent delays in getting your first to begin: cation is established early on, farmers payment. Proof of insurance, and food will be able to adjust to the needs of the safety certification (GAP) may also be food-service establishments and these required. food-service establishments can be flexible to the needs of the farmer. On-Going Marketing and Support Each transaction will require an ac- Sharing the story of your farm and curate and professional-looking invoice its local produce will go a long way in that accompanies the order or is sent by furthering the local food system. Farmmail. An invoice can be a prepared on a ers can support the effort of the foodstandard template, such as those availservice establishments by providing able at a local office supply store, or they marketing material, photos, and parcan be generated on any of the business- ticipating in special events. The institumanagement computer programs. tion can use this material for their own Include all your contact information promotional efforts such as, newsletters, as well as the details of the transaction. signage, and table-top advertisements. List the products, tracking numbers, Hosting a farm tour for the kitchen the weight or count, pricing per unit, staff is one of many creative ideas that and the amount delivered. Spell out the help develop strong partnerships. payment terms expected so there is no Keep the lines of communication misunderstanding about how soon you open. can anticipate payment. Some informal transactions with restaurants may be Food service buyers need to be on a payment-on-delivery basis but be flexible and understand the local prepared to wait up to thirty days for market conditions. payments from larger institutions. 6


• contact a produce auction barn to find out their schedule and plan to attend an auction. • utilize one of the many online marketing tools to find a local grower that is advertising the product you want to buy. • contact the local Cooperative Extension Service and ask for a list of local specialty-crop producers in your area. • local farmers’ markets are a great way to find local producers as well as getting a sense of what is in season. • discuss with your existing broadline supplier or produce distributor about their local-product sourcing network.

The long-term success of your program to work with locally-produced food sources will depend on the support of your institution’s administration and your customers. Plan to share the story of locally-grown food and local farmers, and tell your customers what these sources mean to you as a chef by using newsletters, blogs, and other promotional material. Tabletop tents and signage can also get the message across and make for interesting reading. Special events

After you have identified a convenient source for local produce or have begun building relationships with local farmers, evaluate how you can use local products within the many considerations you may have to juggle. Here are some questions to think about: • Are you currently obligated to purchase certain products under existing contracts or buying programs? • Do you have sufficient staff training and the space in the kitchen to do more “from scratch” food preparation? • Do you have the facilities to store products under the right temperature and holding requirements? • Do you have the flexibility to work within the dietary requirements of certain federal or state funding programs? • Can existing menus be adapted to utilize and feature more locally sourced products? • Can new menu items be developed to take advantage of the seasonality of locally sourced products? • Is your accounting system set up to accommodate the payment terms of local farmers? 7

can highlight seasonal harvests. Serving local foods can be an opportunity for creativity and it will keep your customers excited about the food you prepare and present. Please use the field-fresh fruits and vegetables Produce Availability Chart found at the center of this booklet to help plan menus. s

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Green Harvest Trading

an entrepreneur provides delivery and growing advice to non-driving Amish community In the center of the Amish and Mennonite farming community in western Medina County, Greg Stegeman provides a valuable service to a growing group of hard working family farmers. Greg works with this farming community to develop a schedule of crops to ensure a steady stream of desirable products throughout the growing season and delivers their fresh produce directly to the Sysco warehouse dock in Cleveland, Ohio exclusively for Sysco’s LocalCrop.com enterprise. LocalCrop.com functions as an online farmers’ market conveniently allowing restaurant chefs and institutional chefs to select and order locally grown produce and other regionally produced value-added products. The products are delivered to Sysco on schedule and transported to chefs with their regular deliveries. Without Greg’s Green Harvest Trading Co., there’s no way the Amish farmers could transport their crops that far and capture a premium market. The service Greg provides not only coordinates production schedules for the farmers, but also makes sure the product is harvested, sorted, graded, and packaged according to Sysco standards. He uses refrigerated transportation to ensure the freshest and best handling of the product.

Greg’s knowledge of produce comes from a long career at the Northern Ohio Food Terminal. Now, through Green Harvest, he is filling the gap in the supply chain between the farmers, the distributor, and food service chefs. If you have entrepreneurial ideas that could fill similar gaps in local supply chains, please post them on LocalFoodSystems. org to explore potential connections with other individuals who may be developing complementary businesses. s 8


Ohio University Dining Services Adds New Facility to Process Local Harvest a grassroots movement aggregates supplies along with meeting OU’s sustainability policy to utilize more local produce in campus food service

The new Culinary Support Center within the Central Food Facility on the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio is scheduled to be finished in November of 2011. Dining services executive chef Matt Rapposelli explained that the new center will be equipped with a cook/chill system to preserve many locally grown fruits and vegetables at the height of their summer freshness so that they can be available throughout the school year. Planning for the Culinary

Support Center has been in the works for many years but now takes on even more importance since a sustainability policy for the campus has been implemented by the OU Board of Trustees. Rapposelli has been with OU for five years and has been instrumental in increasing the amount of locally-produced fruits and vegetables purchased from local growers. But it wasn’t until he was encouraged to check out the nearby Chesterhill Produce Auction in 9

Monroe County that he realized how much more could be done. The auction barn is owned and operated by the non-profit organization Rural Action of Trimble, Ohio. Bob Fedyski, one of Chesterhill’s managers, was the one who “hounded” Rapposelli to attend an auction one day in 2008. The produce auction serves the community as a central location where products produced by the many family farms within a multi-county area are aggregated. Impressed with the volume and quality of the produce, as well as the benefit to the community, Matt began to attend the auctions regularly to make purchases of large quantities of local produce. OU’s trucks were then used to pick up the produce and deliver it right to the Central Food Facility loading docks. Now, with the new processing capabilities, additional products like sweet corn and green beans can be properly preserved right along with all the peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes which are the staples of the food service offerings. “Now we can take just about anything they can grow” said Rapposelli. The combination of a vibrant food system in the Appalachian foothills


surrounding Athens County and the local purchasing commitment by Ohio University creates a winning situation for the local farming community as well as the more than eight-thousand students relying on dining services. The facility upgrade will allow OU’s dining services to offer a wider variety and a broader selection of foods. The Culinary Support Center, along with the existing centralized vegetable preparation and bakery facilities, will provide fromscratch cooked food for the network of dining halls, coffee shops, lunch counters, markets, and campus-catering services. This arrangement will allow for more efficient use of labor during the quieter summer months and take advantage of better pricing during the peak of the region’s bountiful harvest. s

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Ohio University’s culinary staff

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Kenyon’s chef prepares tomato sauce from local tomatoes. Courtesy the Rural Life Center, Kenyon College

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Food Safety Institutional food-service providers must be confident that the fruits and vegetables they purchase and serve have been grown, handled, and prepared under clean conditions and that the food is safe to consume. Farmers wishing to make sales to food service institutions must be prepared to discuss and verify their efforts to bring clean and safe products to market. A producer can help assure that their products are clean and safe by managing their operation according to a set of general standards known as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Compliance with the GAP standards reduces the risk of products being exposed to contamination from biological, chemical, or physical sources. GAP standards address water quality, soil amendments, general farm sanitation, crop protection, harvesting, and handling practices. The standards recommend a tracking system be established that allows products to be properly identified should it be necessary to recall or withdraw any product from the marketplace. Many programs are available to give farmers guidance about good agricultural practices for their farm operation. These programs can be found on various land-grant university extension web sites and most are based on the US Food and Drug Administration’s

Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. This guide can be downloaded from the FDA’s website at www.fda. gov/downloads/food. The Ohio Produce Growers and Marketing Association (OPGMA) has been instrumental in launching a food safety certification program tailored to the diverse needs of Ohio growers. The Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement (OPMA) certification program should be underway by early 2012. The voluntary program will be governed by an advisory board, a technical review board, and through formal approval by the director’s office of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The producer will be expected to participate in yearly training. Producers will also need to comply with the program’s core production and handling standards as well as certain administrative criteria. The marketing agreement has three levels, or tiers, of compliance depending on where farmers intend to sell their products. The first tier is well suited for smaller operations that sell in their local market. The mid-tier is suitable for auction sales and intra-state sales. The third tier of compliance is appropriate for larger operations selling product at the inter-state and national level. The need for an annual farm inspection/ audit depends on the compliance tier 11

selected by the grower. If the core standards are met, the producer can market their products as certified by OPMA. A grower does not need to be a member of OPGMA to participate in this program. To learn more about the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement, contact www.opma.us or call 614-487-1117. The Ohio State University Extension Food Safety Team conducts food safety workshops throughout the state and at the yearly OPGMA Congress. The threehour training course guides producers through the steps needed to assess the food safety risks on their farms. The course includes a workbook loaded with resources and information appropriate for any farm operation. Completing the training workshop is a requirement to seek OPMA certification. To find out more about the training class schedule and cost, contact the OSU Extension Fruit and Vegetable Safety Team website at www.producesafety.osu.edu or call 330-202-3555 ext. 2918. Food Safety continued


Produce Availability Chart Produce Availability

Storage

Fruits and Vegetables

J

F

M

apples

ST

ST

ST

asparagus

A

M

SE

H

ST

ST

basil beans (dry)

ST

ST

ST

beans: green, wax, lima beets

SE

SE

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Temp (°F)

Humidity (%)

Length

HST

HST

HST

ST

ST

33

90

6–8 months

33–36

95

2 weeks

55

95

2 weeks

60

55

12 months

45

95

12 days

33

95

6 months

95

2–5 days

H SE

H

H

H

SE

ST

H

H

H

ST

SE

H

H

H

SE

H

H

H

ST

ST

H

H

32

H

H

H

blackberries

32–37

95

1–2 weeks

bok choy, chinese cabbage

SE

H

H

H

H

32

95

1–2 months

broccoli

SE

H

H

H

H

32

95

10–14 days

32

95

3–5 weeks

H

H

H

H

H

32

95

5 months

H

H

H

36–40

85–90

2 weeks

H

H

H

H

H

32

95

5 months

cauliflower

H

H

H

H

H

32

95

2–4 weeks

celery

H

H

H

H

32

95

2–3 weeks

H

H

32

90–95

2–4 weeks

H

H

32

90–95

2–4 weeks

32

95

4–8 days

50

95

8–12 days

50

95

8–12 days

45

95

12 days

50

90

1–2 weeks

32

65–70

6–7 months

32

90

4–6 weeks

32

98

4 weeks

blueberries

Brussels sprouts cabbage

ST

ST

SE

cantaloupe, honeydew carrots

ST

ST

ST

SE

cherries (sweet)

SE

H

cherries (tart) corn (sweet) cucumbers (pickling) cucumbers (for slicing)

GH

GH

GH

GH

GH

H

H

H

SE

H

H

H

SE

H

H

H

edamame, edible soybeans

GH

GH

H

eggplant garlic

GH

ST

ST

ST

ST

H

H

H

H

H

ST

grapes

ST

ST

ST

H

green onions, scallions, shallots

SE

SE

SE

H

H

H

H

H

SE

greens: beet, collard, mustard, turnip

SE

SE

SE

SE

SE

H

H

H

H

H

SE

SE

32

95

10–14 days

herbs: cilantro, mint, oregano, sage, thyme, chives, parsley

SE

SE

SE

SE

SE

H

H

H

H

H

SE

SE

32

95

1–3 weeks

horseradish

ST

ST

ST

ST

ST

ST

ST

H

H

ST

32

90–95

kale, swiss chard

SE

SE

SE

SE

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

SE

32

95

10–14 days

H

H

H

H

H

ST

ST

32

98

2–3 months

H

H

H

H

ST

ST

32

95

1–3 months

H

H

H

H

SE

SE

32

95

2 weeks

H

H

45–50

95

7–10 days

H

H

ST

ST

ST

32

65–70

6–7 months

H

H

H

ST

32

95

4–6 months

32–38

90–95

1–3 weeks

kohlrabi leeks lettuce: romaine, leaf

GH

GH

GH

SE

H

H

okra onions

ST

ST

ST

ST

parsnips, rutabaga

ST

ST

ST

ST

peaches

H

H

H

H

8–10 months


Produce Availability

Storage

Fruits and Vegetables

J

pears

ST

F

M

A

peas

M H

peppers (hot)

ST

ST

ST

peppers (sweet) potatoes (sweet)

ST

ST

ST

ST

potatoes (early white)

ST

ST

ST

ST

ST

potatoes (late white)

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Temp (°F)

Humidity (%)

Length

H

H

ST

ST

ST

32

95

2–4 months

H

H

32

95

2 weeks

50

60–65

6 months

45

95

2–3 weeks

55–60

85

6 months

H SE

H

H

H

SE

H

H

H

SE

H

H

H

ST

ST

H

H

H

ST

ST

H

ST

ST H

H

pumpkins radishes, daikon

SE

SE

SE

SE

H

raspberries: black, red rhubarb

H

salad greens: mesclun, baby & micro greens

GH

GH

GH

spinach

SE

SE

SE

H

H

H

squash: summer, zucchini squash: winter

ST

ST

H

H

H

H

H

SE

GH

GH

turnips, rutabagas

ST

ST

GH

SE

SE

1 month

ST

50–55

70–75

2–3 months

H

H

SE

SE

32

95

3–4 weeks

32

90–95

32

95

2–4 weeks

34

95

2 weeks

32

95

10–14 days

50

95

2 weeks

50–55

50–60

2–6 months

32

90–95

7 days

H

H

SE

H

H

H

H

H

SE

H

H

H

H ST

SE

ST

5 days

H

H

H

H

45

85

1–3 weeks

H

H

H

SE

60–65

90

4–7 days

H

H

ST

ST

32

90–95

4–5 months

H

H

50

80–85

2–3 weeks

H

H

1–3 weeks

90

ST

H

H

90

H

H

H

50 45–50

H

H

tomatillos tomatoes

ST

H

ST

strawberries

ST

watermelon

honey

Produced in summer and available year round

STORAGE TIPS

maple syrup

Produced very early spring and available year round

mushrooms

Produced and available year round

Temperature: this is the most important factor to maintain the quality of your fresh produce.

fresh-milk products, eggs, cheese, meats, fish

Produced and available year round

Practice Rotation: “first-in first-out” ensures the oldest product is used first. Write the date and store incoming deliveries in order.

KEY Typical harvest availability within Ohio; local weather conditions and variable frost dates affect harvest dates from year to year Heated greenhouse Use of season-extension technologies; crops may be available earlier and later than typical harvest times Crops can be held in cold/cool storage past harvest time Dual conditions apply www.oardc.osu.edu/amp

January 2012


Food Safety continued The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also sponsors a voluntary Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP and GHP) Fresh Produce Audit Verification Program. The USDA’s audit verifies that the producer has adhered to the standards specific to the Food and Drug Administration’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. The USDA audit program web site is www.ams.usda.gov. The site has good reference material and resources available for produce growers. Other GAP certification programs are available to produce growers who need to provide an even higher degree of food-safety assurance to their customers. Buyers for some retail grocery stores, restaurants, and large institutions may require farms, distributors, and processing facilities to be certified under these more stringent standards before conducting any business with them. The certification programs involve second-party audits, where the buying company inspects a farming operation based on a pre-determined set of standards; or a third-party audit, conducted by an independent auditor according to the applicable standards. Some of the audit programs are based on international standards known as Global G.A.P., Safe Quality Foods (SQF), Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), and British Retail Consortium (BRC). Farmers and food service personnel need to stay informed about the local, state, and federal regulations that may be implemented as food safety concerns continue to be in the news and as information changes and develops. The recently passed US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) may affect some of the larger Ohio produce growers. The new law grants

the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more authority to regulate product recalls and requires both imported and domestically-grown produce to be traceable. Compliance with the new law may impact production costs as well as insurance premiums for the grower.

other food safety certification program may be required as a condition for coverage. Participation may also help reduce premium costs. Grower cooperatives and associations may be a valuable source of information and could be instrumental in negotiating certain types of product-liability insurance coverage on behalf of their memInsurance Ohio farmers should carry insurance bership in the areas of product liability, coverage for a variety of potential losses food safety, and product recall. The institutional food buyer must to their property and business. In adalso have a clear understanding of the dition to the basic homeowner’s/farminsurance coverage expected of their stead policy, producers usually must have product-liability coverage in order suppliers as well as the food-safety liability coverage their own operation to sell at farmers markets or to other buyers. This required coverage can range must have. The institution should have policies and procedures in place to adbetween one-million and five-million dress all the best handling practices dollars in product liability. It is recommended that farmers (BHP) related to food safety in order to consult with an insurance agent that has comply with local health department an Agribusiness and Farm Insurance requirements and other regulations. Specialist (AFIS) designation to asConsultation with insurance and other sure a thorough understanding of their industry experts can ensure that each needs. A policy that protects the farm link in the supply chain has the proper from loss due to product recall or other coverage and that all parties are prefood-safety related issues may need to pared to address a wide range of food be customized. Participation in GAP or safety related issues. s

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DNO Produce

a produce supplier, as middleman, offers locally-sourced produce to existing customers DNO Produce has been based near the Columbus Produce Terminal for several generations. The DiNovo family built their business distributing quality produce to restaurants, groceries, schools and other food-service institutions throughout central Ohio including colleges, universities, and public facilities operated by the state. Produce grown in Florida and the U.S. southwest is shipped daily into Ohio. Truckloads of fresh fruits and vegetables grown by central-Ohio farmers also end up on their dock. New to the DiNovo’s operation is a state-of-the-art fresh-cut processing facility which adds a number of convenient products to their customers’ options.

Our study pointed out that institutions beginning a local food program are concerned that they need certain volume or quality of product and want to minimize administrative costs by working with one vendor and one invoice. The extended set of services provided by companies like DNO Produce make it easy for locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables to be distributed right to the institution’s receiving dock along with their standing weekly order. And being able to order proportioned and pre-packaged local produce that is also fresh-cut, adds an incentive for those chefs needing to streamline their kitchens. Mark Newton, the executive chef for The Ohio State University dining services explained the convenience of working with this type of produce company. Although Mark works with individual producers, DNO Produce eliminates the problem of generating multiple purchase orders, which helps Mark use his time more efficiently. Managing forty-seven food service enterprises on the OSU main campus doesn’t give Mark much time to check out potential farm operations or deal with venders who can deliver only small quantities of produce. And having the fresh and local products all ready for the salad bar makes things easier. s 15


Local Blueberries Now the Feature of the Berry Blast Smoothie on OSU Campus a local blueberry grower builds business around contacts and institutional requirements All it took was an e-mail to connect Andy Beilstein with OSU Dining Services Executive Chef Mark Newton. Newton remembers the note from the sophomore engineering student as, “Hey, my Dad grows blueberries and I saw you were using blueberries in the smoothies at the student union—why don’t you use ours?” Mark replied,

“Well, I didn’t know you had any to sell! Where have you been?” That exchange began a series of meetings, samples, negotiations, and now orders bringing fresh and frozen blueberries from The Blueberry Patch of Mansfield, Ohio into Campus Dining Services on the main OSU campus in Columbus, Ohio.

16

Andy’s parents, Lisa and Steve Beilstein, planted their first blueberry bush back in 1982. Due to the sandy soil conditions on the farm, planting the acid loving blueberries was the only choice to make something grow. Now almost thirty years and 30,000 bushes later, the Blueberry Patch has over twenty acres in production, making it


the state’s largest blueberry plantation. This agribusiness draws visitors from all over for the early summer you-pick season, the gift shop and café, as well as the greenhouse and blueberry production stock nursery. The Beilstein’s realized early on that additional marketing opportunities for their berries existed beyond the retail portion of the business. Adding commercial harvesting equipment allowed for a thorough gleaning after the you-pick customers were finished with the rows. A processing facility was built to wash, flash freeze, and package the berries. The individually quick frozen (IQF) berries became available in three, six, and ten pound buckets and bags needed for wholesale distribution.

When the first purchase order from OSU Dining Services was received, the Beilstein’s were ready with the right quantity, grade, and form to make their frozen blueberries the key ingredient of the many smoothies served each day at the Courtside Café juice bar and at other campus locations.

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Frozen Blueberry Patch berries are also distributed to the restaurant trade and several central Ohio grocery store chains. s

s

s


Farm-to School-Programs

A school district reaches out to local farmers; a farmer adopts practices to accommodate food distributor Farm-to-school programs have been popping up in school districts across the state over the last few years. The effort has been led by food service directors wanting to provide healthier food choices for their students. What they have found is that participation in school lunches increases, great connections are made within the community, and the whole process is much easier and more rewarding than anyone would have imagined. Tom Freitas, Dining Services Supervisor for the Sandusky City School District started his program several years ago by simply sending out a letter to local farmers. Dave Mulvin, from nearby Mulvin Farms, responded and began a collaborative relationship providing farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to the district’s nine schools. The family farm, in operation for almost forty-five years, grows the tomatoes, squash, and sweet corn featured on the seasonal lunch menu. Dave has even custom grown watermelons for the cafeteria salad bars. Thanks to Mulvin Farms’ connections, Tom has also been able to locate apples and other locally grown specialty produce. Tom and Dave work together to provide educational information— bookmarks and table toppers—to share

information about the produce and the farm. This marketing information has been a great way to get the Mulvin Farm name out in the community.

for Red Basket Farm to participate in a farm-to-school program with the South Euclid School District and AVI, the school district’s contracted food service provider. The fresh lettuce greens and other s s s colorful fruits and vegetables used in The Red Basket Farm in Kinsthe chef-prepared meals challenge the man, Ohio has been producing qualkids to make healthy and delicious ity produce since 2002. In addition to choices. Floyd works closely with the the many acres in vegetable producstaff at the six participating schools by tion, farmer Floyd Davis has recently providing educational materials and constructed several new high tunnel hosting field trips to the farm so the greenhouses to extend his growing kids can learn about where their food season. This has created the opportunity comes from. s

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LocalFoodSystems.org LocalFoodSystems.org is a social networking website promoting strong local economies by building a business environment for people interested in local agriculture. If it were possible for an institutional buyer and a farmer to take care of all of their business just by phone or mail, things would be fine. But as you can see from the stories in this guide, a buyer often needs multiple farmers to fill out a menu, and farmers often need shippers, packers, processors, or all three to get their produce in the right form at the right time and to the right place. That means lots of entities need to work as a network and to help build a new supply chain within Ohio. How do you plan a whole supply chain network of businesses? You can use the tools on LocalFoodSystems. org. Entrepreneurs can use the features on this site to connect their business ideas into a supply-chain network of locally-owned businesses, both existing and in the planning stage. If there is an opportunity for a new business to be launched, the entrepreneurs using the site can work together and also find the capital needed to launch their enterprises. The Agroecosystems Management Program of The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center organized a local

food system workshop on February 29, 2008 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The workshop brought together key participants from throughout Ohio’s food system for the first time and generated tremendous energy and excitement about working together. Specific topics of interest included those of distribution and infrastructure. This social networking website was launched during the workshop as a way to keep the participants connected, communicating, and productive. The site has since grown steadily in subscribers and working groups. Grants have further funded development and were focused on strengthening networking capacity and honing collaborative skills that prompt market expansion, technology commercialization, and business growth in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and beyond. LocalFoodSystems.org is a project of the Agroecosystems Management Program of The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and additional collaborators in Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Site development has been supported by a USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative Regional Partnerships for Innovation Grant as well as a structural-change grant from the Fund for Our Economic Future in Northeast Ohio. s 19


Study Findings Finding a dependable source for locally grown produce is just as important as finding a dependable buyer for your farm’s product. A farmer can: • sell their products directly off of the farm to a retail customer or to a wholesale buyer • sell at established farmers markets or roadside stands • take their products to a wholesale auction barn where interested buyers can bid on the products • work collaboratively with other growers to aggregate their products so they have the volume needed to interest large-scale buyers • form cooperatives to market their products and to develop value-added products • grow products exclusively for a specific processor • grow produce under contract for an institution or food company • sell directly to wholesale buyers at terminal markets • sell to a food service management service such as AVI, Bon Appetit, Parkhurst Dining Services, or Sodexo

Institutional food service buyers can purchase locally grown products: • by assigning staff to find farmers growing the products they want • bid on products at a produce auction barn • contract with a grower to provide a certain variety and quantity of produce • buy local products offered from their established wholesale broadliner or produce supplier • connect with a grower’s cooperative to develop a cropping schedule for the products they need

20


Institutions identified the following issues as potential challenges to purchasing more local products: • some institutions have existing food purchasing contracts • some institutions have been reluctant to establish relationships with small producers due to the perceived small selection or volume of products offered • distribution has to address good handling practices like temperature control and clean vehicles • delivery must be on time and based on the frequency needed by the institution • quantity, quality, and packaging must be consistent with the order • systems for invoicing, payment terms, and purchase orders need to be in place • compliance with liability insurance, traceability and GAP are needed • cost

Institutions specifically mentioned these opportunities to purchase more local products from local sources: • executive chefs are seeking more local sources for asparagus, berries, and melons • chefs want to identify sources for locally grown, unique niche products • chefs are asking their current produce suppliers and their broadliners to help them locate local products • smaller institutions can utilize less than premium products because their kitchens have more ability to process and preserve these items • colleges and universities are adjusting their menu offerings to take advantage of local and seasonal products; especially where more “from scratch” cooking expertise is available • food-service establishments are learning the seasonality of local crops and the opportunity to work with local growers who utilize season-extension growing techniques

Study conclusions: • some farmers have dealt directly with buyers from many institutions for many years and have established long standing successful relationships • this study suggests that farmers may find an opportunity to do more business with institutional food service establishments by working with and through existing supply-chain distributors • developing relationships with traditional produce distributors may be an efficient use of the farmer’s time and prove profitable for both the farmer and seller • entrepreneurial opportunities abound for those willing to meet the needs of both the farmers and institutional buyers to create new supply chains

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Resources

Over the last few years many helpful resources have sprung up on the internet to help buyers and sellers connect. Some of these services are free; others may work on a commission or require a registration fee. Farm to College Program

www.farmtocollege.org/home

Farm to School Program

www.farmtoschool.org

Local Crop

www.localcrop.com

Local Dirt

www.localdirt.com

Local Harvest

www.localharvest.org

Local Orbit

http://localorb.it/lo2

Ohio MarketMaker Ohio Proud Our Ohio

http://oh.marketmaker.uiuc. edu www.ohioproud.org www.ourohio.org

A national program sponsored by the Community Food Security Coalition A state-by-state network connecting school districts with information for buying local An online farmer’s market, where local ingredients are collected and delivered to restaurants through a partnership between chefs, farmers, producers, and Sysco Foodservices The place to find and buy fresh, local food directly from the family farm; wholesale buyers are encouraged A directory of family farms that sell directly through various channels An online marketplace offering a diverse selection of local products A national program created to assist growers in participating state to make marketing connections Ohio Department of Agriculture marketing program Ohio Farm Bureau buying local directory

There are many in-depth resources available on many of the topics covered in this publication. Go to www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/amp and click on Ohio’s Specialty Crops: A Boost to Food Service Menus on the homepage sidebar for up-to-date links and information. 22


Produce Auction Barns in Ohio Bainbridge Produce Auction

Pike County

Blooming Grove Auction

Richland County

Captina Produce Auction

Belmont County

Chesterhill Produce Auction

Morgan County

Farmers Produce Auction

Holmes County

Homerville Produce Auction

Medina County

Middlefield Produce Auction

Geauga County

Owl Creek Produce Auction

Morrow County

1864 Shyville Road Piketon, Ohio 1091 Free Road Shiloh, Ohio 39050 West Captina Highway Barnesville, Ohio 8380 Wagoner Road Chesterhill, Ohio 7701 State Route 241 Mount Hope, Ohio 9430 Spencer Road Homerville, Ohio 44235 14575 Madison Road, Route 528 Middlefield, Ohio 5885 Morrow County Road 22 Fredericktown, Ohio

Middlefield

Blooming Grove

Homerville

Mount Hope Owl Creek

Captina Chesterhill

Bainbridge

23

937-365-0572 419-896-2774 740-425-4495 740-767-4938 330-674-7661 330-625-2369 440-632-0499 740-627-1660


written by Megan Shoenfelt edited by Casey Hoy and David Wiesenberg The Ohio State University Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center The Agroecosystems Management Program

Acknowledgments The project, Catalyzing Farm to Institutional Food Service Specialty Crop Sales in Ohio, and this publication, were supported by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and funded by USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. I would like to thank the Advisory Group participants: Valente Alvarez, David Apthorpe, Traci Aquara, Brad Bergefurd, Floyd Davis, David Eson, Bob Fedyski, Dan Frobose, Adam Gibson, Brian Gwin, Bob Jones, John Marsh, Bob Marx, Leah Miller, Mark Newton, Allan Prindle, Matt Rapposelli, Deb Savage, Richard Stock, Richard Wander, Jim Weir, and Aden Yoder. Lisa and Steve Beilstein, Karen Benishek, Kathy Bielek, Tony DiNovo, Alex DiNovo, Stan Ernst, Tom Freitas, Matt Kleinhenz, Karl Kolb, Ashley Kulhanek, Howard Sacks, Carlos Samano, Leslie Schaller, Greg Stegeman, and Joe Uniatowski also provided important support for this project. I would also like to thank Tim Woods, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture and Julie Fox, The Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Direct Marketing Team and the MarketReady Program.

Copyright 2012 The Ohio State University The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all research and related educational programs are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or veteran status. This statement is in accordance with United States Civil Rights Laws and the USDA. Steve Slack, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, OARDC


Ohio's Specialty Crops: A Boost to Food Service Menus  

Ohio’s Specialty Crops: A Boost to Food Service Menus is intended to be a resource for specialty-crop producers (individually or producers w...

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