From Ellie Watson
Director, Sweet Grown Alabama
MONTGOMERY, Ala.— Sweet Grown Alabama has been awarded a grant to track locally grown products purchased by five grocery store and distribution partners. This specialty crop block grant, awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture in partnership with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, provides financial incentives to the stores in exchange for local procurement data. Sweet Grown Alabama’s goal is to motivate stores and distributors to boost the amount of locally grown products purchased, which in turn will make Alabama grown products more readily available for consumers.
“We are so grateful to local grocery stores and distributors who value Alabama grown products and already support so many of our local farmers,” said Sweet Grown Alabama Director Ellie Watson. “Through this grant program, we hope to make buying local products even easier for our grocery members. We know buying local takes a bit more money and e ffort, but the economic benefit it brings to our state outweighs the challenges.”
Grant partners include Greer’s Markets in South Alabama with 17 Alabama stores; Piggly Wiggly Birmingham Group with 13 stores; Renfroe’s Markets in Central Alabama with six stores; WM Grocery in East Alabama with four stores; and Mitchell Grocery Corporation in North Alabama with 30 corporate stores and nearly 200 distribution partners.
“Mitchell Grocery strives to supply the freshest top-quality produce available. We also want to support the families in our communities across the state,” said Robin Hayes of Mitchell Grocery. “We are grateful for the grant program and hope by forming this partnership with Sweet Grown Alabama we can connect with more local farmers. Really what can be fresher than local grown?”
In addition to data tracking, these stores also joined the Sweet Grown Alabama branding program. Stores are listed in Sweet Grown Alabama’s online searchable database where consumers can find locally grown products. Members also receive the rights to use the Sweet Grown Alabama logo on point-of-sale materials and advertisements.
“Greer’s Markets is so happy to be working with Sweet Grown Alabama. Greer’s has been locally owned for over 100 years, and we have always strived to provide our community the best and freshest local products as well as support our local farmers,” said Les Buerger of Greer’s Markets. “We believe that, today more than ever, supporting local businesses is of the utmost importance and with the help of Sweet Grown Alabama we are much more capable of doing this.”
Once data collection is complete, information regarding in-demand local products will be shared with Alabama producers. This data will help farmers make planting decisions and explore potential new markets for locally grown crops.
“Piggly Wiggly is locally owned and we are always seeking local and regional products to bring to market,” said Andy Virciglio of Piggy Wiggly Birmingham Group. “Our stores welcome locally sourced products and our customers trust Piggly Wiggly to bring the best. Sweet Grown Alabama helps us do just that.”
To learn more about Sweet Grown Alabama and find locally grown products near you, visit SweetGrownAlabama.org.
About Sweet Grown Alabama:
Sweet Grown Alabama is a non-profit foundation that enhances marketing opportunities for Alabama farmers by connecting retailers and consumers to Alabama grown foods and other agricultural products. Farmers, product makers, restaurants, retailers and others are encouraged to join the branding program and use the Sweet Grown Alabama logo on their locally grown products. To learn more visit www.SweetGrownAlabama.org.