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Workshop aims to help farmers connect with wholesale customers

Thrive and OSU Extension Small Farms will offer a full-day workshop for farmers interested in selling to wholesale customers on Thursday, Jan. 23.

The workshop is in conjunction with the launch of a pilot-project aimed at increasing the availability of locally grown produce to Rogue Valley consumers.

The workshop at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, is designed for small and mid-sized fruit and vegetable growers interested in entering into or expanding their sales in the wholesale channel. Registration is available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/534709 or at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the workshop, which starts at 9 a.m.

"Wholesale Success" training developed by FamilyFarmed.org and USDA is considered the gold standard for learning best practices in food safety, post-harvest handling and produce packing, organizers said.

A full day of professional training, including lunch and a complimentary copy of the 312-page manual "Wholesale Success: A Farmer's Guide to Food Safety, Selling, Postharvest Handling, and Packing Produce" are included with the registration. Cost for farmers is $15 for one person and $20 for two people from the same farm. The cost for non-farmers is $35.

Current estimates indicate between 2 and 3 percent of fresh produce consumed in the Rogue Valley was grown locally, with most locally grown food going to direct outlets such as farmers' markets, CSAs and farm stands. Thrive hopes to remove barriers and open a wider pathway between local producers and retail stores.

— Greg Stiles