Note: This article was originally published Nov 1, 2013.
On Oct. 23, over 50 buyers and food producers and 15 service providers gathered for the Huntington Local Food Expo, a regional mixer of food buyers and local food producers designed to help them do business together. Restaurants, institutional food buyers, distributors, farmers and food business owners joined a group “speed dating” event to help them make sales connections. The event also featured a sampling showcase of prepared local produce, and a buyer-grower panel discussion about making bulk local food sales relationships work. Display booths featured displays from farmers and from organizations that provide business services for food enterprises.
We got some very nice press on the event — here and here — which was picked up by the Associated Press and even ended up in the San Francisco Chronicle! See a great gallery of photos here, from the Huntington Herald Dispatch.
A Huntington region Buyer Grower Directory was created to accompany the Huntington Local Food Expo. The Directory is intended to be used by volume food buyers (such as restaurants, grocers, co-ops and institutional food service) and local food producers to help them form sales connections with one another. It includes detailed information about the businesses who either attended the Expo or submitted their information specifically for inclusion in the Directory. Because the Expo was a regional event, counties targeted for the Directory included Cabell, Wayne, Mason, Lincoln, Kanawha, and Putnam, although producers from other counties are also represented.
The Huntington Local Food Expo was just one of a series of regional Expos to be hosted throughout the state by the WV Food & Farm Coalition and local partners, with support provided by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture via a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant. After the first three Expos, the directory information from all three events will be combined into a single statewide buyer-grower directory. Look for the full directory on our web site by Summer 2014.
The Expo and Directory were sponsored through a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and by the Cabell County Farm Bureau.
We are grateful to the partners without whom the Expo and the Buyer-Grower Directory would not have been possible:
Unlimited Future / Huntington 30 Mile Meal
West Virginia Department of Agriculture
WVU Extension Service (special thanks to Cabell, Mason, Kanawha and Putnam Counties)
Charleston Area Alliance
Glenville Small Business Development Center