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Workshop to focus on getting local produce wider exposure

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

The workshop is connected to the launch of a pilot project aimed at increasing the availability of locally grown produce for Rogue Valley consumers.

The workshop at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, is designed for small- and mid-sized growers of fruits and vegetables who are interested in selling at the wholesale level. Registration is available online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/534709 or starting at 8:30 a.m., before the 9 a.m. workshop.

Wendy Siporen, executive director of Thrive, described the "Wholesale Success" training, developed by FamilyFarmed.org and the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the gold standard for learning best practices in a host of farming practices.

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. The cost is $15 for one farmer, $20 for two people from the same farm, and $35 per nonfarmer.

Current estimates indicate between 2 and 3 percent of fresh produce consumed in the Rogue Valley is grown locally, with most of that going to direct outlets, such as farmers' markets and farm stands. Siporen said Thrive hopes to remove barriers and better connect local producers with retail stores.

Businesses interested in participating, including grocery stores, but unable to attend the workshop are invited to call Wallace Wright at 541-488-7272.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/EconomicEdge.