Maine Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet (right) presents a distinguished-service award to Will Wedge, Hannaford director of produce, and Wendy Carter, Locally Grown coordinator.
We long ago declared locally grown to be the “new organic,” so we’ve dealt extensively with locally grown issues here, here, here and here. Sister publication PRODUCE BUSINESS has also focused on locally grown with articles, such as this and this.
Now the state of Maine, acting through the Maine agriculture commissioner, has presented an award to Hannaford for its focus on assisting Maine’s farmers:
Maine honors Hannaford for support of local farms
Hannaford, with a long history of working with local farmers, recently received special recognition from the Maine Department of Agriculture. Commissioner Seth Bradstreet presented Hannaford with a distinguished-service award Jan. 15 for our “dedication to Maine farmers by continuously promoting local Maine products” in our stores.
“The award has special meaning as we mark our 125th anniversary, since Hannaford got its start as a produce wholesaler,” says Will Wedge, director of produce. “We’ve always had strong ties to local farms.”
The award was presented during the annual Commissioner’s Luncheon at the Maine Agriculture Trade Show, where Hannaford had a booth to educate farmers about becoming vendors and to provide attendees samples of local fare, including Borealis Breads andvine-ripened greenhouse tomatoes.
“We’re especially pleased because it’s the first time the department has given this award to a corporation,” says Wendy Carter, Locally Grown coordinator. Hannaford has more than 220 local farmers supplying its stores, the bulk of them in New York and Maine
It is not easy to maintain a strong locally grown program, so Hannaford well deserves this award.
What also is interesting is that although it is owned by Delhaize in Belgium, Hannaford presents itself as authentically driven by the values of the communities in which it functions. Its emphasis on locally grown is best seen as an extension of that focus.
One suspects that locally grown programs have many challenges ahead, as the industry struggles to try to impose uniform and mandatory food-safety and traceability requirements throughout the whole food chain. It is not clear if smaller growers can always meet these requirements.
At the heart of a strong locally grown program is supplier development, and those local growers smart enough to affiliate with a Hannaford, Wegmans or other strong locally grown program have an advantage as these retail leaders are the best positioned to help point local growers toward what they need to do next to upgrade their standards and the level of transparency and accountability.
So Hannaford is really focusing on a triple win — it wins for its customers by providing the fresh, local product they are seeking; it wins for the growers by guiding them, along the path to food safety and sustainability; and it wins for itself by having happy suppliers and customers.
Congratulations to Wendy Carter, Will Wedge and the whole Hannaford team on this recognition.