Despite drought, local markets, farm bureau bulk sale still strong
Beacon-News Staff September 2, 2012 5:16PM
Kap Farms worker Rudy Cervantez loads Bernie Biernacki of Aurora's purchase in to a bag Wednesday, July 11, 2012 during a farmers' market at Spring Lake Park in Aurora. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Bulk food orders for the upcoming Kane County Farm Bureau sale must be submitted by Tuesday, with delivery on Sept. 21.
Forms are available at kanecfb.com, along with free recipe brochures and a listing of local farms and farmer’s markets. Information also is available from the Farm Bureau office at 630-584-8660.
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:03AM
The drought of 2012 has taken a toll on many backyard gardens, but local farmers markets are still going strong.
And with the growing season coming to an end, that’s good news for those consumers who are looking for ways to stock their shelves, according to the Kane County Farm Bureau.
Ryan Klassy, information director for the Farm Bureau, said that despite well below-average precipitation that has left lawns, cornfields, and gardens struggling to pull moisture from parched soil, area growers have managed very well in giving consumers choices when buying local.
It also has meant a continued interest in buying food in bulk and purchasing products grown closer to home, he said.
“Kane County is fortunate to have a multitude of road-side stands and excellent farmer’s markets,” Klassy said.
Klassy said he has witnessed increased interest in buying local products during a period when consumers are trying to make their money go further as they go down the grocery aisle.
“They’re cooking at home and buying larger quantities to take advantage of price breaks,” Klassy said.
Those trends, according to Beth Dawson, Farm Bureau edible sales specialist, have caused a spike in interest in a decades-old program the bureau sponsors twice each year. A semi truck hauls in a 50-foot refrigerated trailer from Michigan, full of frozen items from cranberries to catfish and snap peas to strawberries.
“Our bulk sale has always been popular, because of the unique items you can find, but especially this year,” Dawson said. “We’ve talked to people whose gardens didn’t produce quite what they thought they would.”
Customers can place orders at the Farm Bureau ahead of time, and pick them up on a prearranged date.
“Not everyone has room for 15 pounds of mixed vegetables, but if you do, savings can be considerable,” Dawson said, noting that customers who pride themselves on their bargain-hunting abilities come back every year.
Increased interest in buying local prompted the Kane County bureau to capitalize on an Illinois Department of Agriculture grant in 2008 and 2009 to create a website, bountyofkane.org, along with brochures, postcards and billboards. The listing provides detailed information on 36 direct farm markets and 15 farmers markets in the county.
The association’s women’s committee also has published a fruit and vegetable recipe brochure for the past 20 years. It helps consumers put fresh local produce into tried-and-true family recipes that have graced the kitchens of local farm families for generations.
Klassy said the bulk food sales were started as a member service, but were opened up to the public due to consumer and economic trends. Farm Bureau members, who pay a small dues amount each year, get further discounts on prices that are already easy on the pocketbook because of the size of the package. Those big packages also decrease the per item amount of packaging required, an environmental advantage Klassy said is also noticed by customers.
“Consumers these days take all of those factors into account, I think,” Klassy said. “They want a good price, but they also care about the environment and local economies.”