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Knowing consumer value in your ar grown produce, numerous Midwestern growers, such together Gumz Farms, proud promote your states" slogans on their boxes. Photo COURTESY of GUMZ FARMS

Originally published in the august 2020 problem of Produce Business.

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The region’s strategically located shippers supply many of the country.

America’s Heartland is recognized as the most fertile grain-producing an ar on earth, for this reason the surname breadbasket. From the moment the floor warms in the spring till the an initial cold snaps in the late fall, this strategically located region also supplies many of the country a cornucopia that fruits and also vegetables.

During the spring and also summer, the Midwest enjoys a transportation benefit over the other major fruit and vegetable producing regions in California, Florida and also Mexico.

“The significant advantages of farming in the Midwest are: we can supply ‘local’ create to countless areas, and also we are able to market next-day deliveries to two-thirds of the U.S. Population,” states Loren Buurma, cook financial officer that Buurma Farms, Willard, OH.

Local manufacturing is a big drawing card for Midwestern retailers. “For the ones we room able to do service with, we room able to show timely deliveries and also are able to be very responsive since we are so close to the market,” notes Rod Gumz, co-owner the Gumz Farms, i m sorry grows and also ships yellow, red and sweet onions and also red and also yellow potato from Endeavor, WI. “The consumer values it (local), so few of the retailers do as well. V the pandemic, civilization are talking much more about sustaining local and also supporting businesses the support local areas and communities.”


Loren’s ancestor, candid Buurma, worked the celery fields external Kalamazoo, MI, in the 19th century till he joined other Dutch immigrants who drained accessible swampland and also turned Willard into a premier vegetable region.

Starting with celery planted in a four-acre plot, Frank’s share of the reclaimed swamp, Buurma and his descendants constructed a 2,500-acre mixed vegetable operation with areas in two claims using the most contemporary equipment to serve sectors spanning the eastern two-thirds that the country.

“Summer thunderstorms have the right to make a mess of our crops,” claims Buurma. “We farm yard in two claims to spread out out our risks. That strategy protects united state from damages of localized storms that would certainly knock us out of manufacturing for a couple of days, and it helps us have continual supplies for our crucial customers.”

Harvesting in 2 states additionally makes it feasible for Buurma ranches to offer radishes from may to November, beets and parsley native June come November, carrots and parsnips native July to November, and also many kinds of squash, pumpkins and sweet corn from respectable to November.

The company also ships lettuces, endive, cabbages, cilantro, dill, and other greens, in addition to peppers, kale and also eggplant from late spring to early on fall.

Buurma farms is among several diversity growers in the eight-state an ar who delivery an impressive selection of fruits and also vegetables to supermarkets in the eastern two-thirds the the country.

“The Midwestern says of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin space often referred to as the ‘Corn Belt,’” follow to an October 2017 U.S. Room of farming report: Climate Hubs farming in the Midwest. “There are an ext than 127 million acre of agricultural land in the Midwest, and also in enhancement to 75% of that area in corn and also soybeans, the other 25% is provided to develop alfalfa, apples, asparagus, environment-friendly beans, blueberries, cabbage, carrots, sweet and also tart cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, grapes, oats, onions, peaches, plums, peas, bell peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries, strawberries, sweet corn, tobacco, tomatoes, watermelon and also wheat.”

Strategic Location

The availability of fresh fruits and vegetables is a measure of the arrival of warmer and also longer days.

“You look because that it to start in the spring,” states Nate Stone, special jobs manager at Ben B. Schwartz & Sons, Detroit. “There space some at an early stage varieties favor radishes, and also the volume and variety keep increasing as the season warms up, and the days acquire longer. You have the right to have frost up until Mothers’ Day. World used to placed their chop in the floor by the Farmers’ Almanac, however now i think they’ve gotten much more sophisticated.”

Since the rotate of the previous century, Ben B. Schwartz has wholesaled a full variety of fruits and vegetables indigenous its facility at the Detroit all Market, which has actually been strategically located for 90 year just across the Detroit river from Windsor, Canada, and Highway 401 to Toronto, and also right ~ above Highway 75 headed southern along the banks of Lake Erie to Toledo, OH, and beyond.

Indianapolis Fruit Co. Serves around an eight-state area – Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri – over a spring-to-fall fruit and also vegetable season that greenhouse modern technology and plant reproduction keep extending.

“The season starts in mid-April and also it gets warm in late June,” states Dan Corsaro, vice president of sales and marketing at Indianapolis Fruit Company, Indianapolis. “Out of this area human being look for tomatoes, melons, peppers, sweet corn, kale, squash, and also Michigan asparagus and blueberries.”

Some Midwest grower-shippers it is provided a variety of fruits and vegetables to most of the country over a long season.

“Our harvest season begins the first of June, and also we ship all the way to the finish of November,” states Todd Miedema, director of sales in ~ Miedema Produce, Hudsonville, MI. “We start with radishes in ~ the start of June; by the third week the June we have turnips, irpari lettuces, zucchini and also yellow squash; celery and also blueberries start roughly July fourth and peppers the third week in July; carrots, onions and hard squash begin in August.”

“We serve all of North America throughout the Michigan season, particularly anything eastern of the Rockies,” states Miedema. “We’re experiencing much more competition on mixed vegetables the end of Mexico in the summer; Mexico has actually been increasing the previous 10 years. Canada has a favorable exchange rate, and they offer us competition.”

Proximity to the significant population centers that the Midwest and also Eastern seaboard is a significant advantage for this region’s develop wholesalers and shippers.

“Major retailers support locally-grown develop as they look for partnerships with neighborhood farmers to provide fresh create as they increase in the Midwest.”

Christine Lindner, Alsum Farms

Logistics advantages help reduced transportation costs. “Our proximity permits for less freight costs, i beg your pardon is an benefit at different times the the year once trucks room tight,” says Gumz Farms’ Gumz. “It’s less complicated to acquire a quick haul versus a lengthy haul. That may cost us $1 to send our commodities to some place, while it may price someone else $5. We can find truckers who can obtain to Chicago and deliver and be house at night, as much more people desire to be home at night through their families. We space able to do that without a most trouble. We room able to supply a quality and also consistent product through on-time deliveries transparent the year.”

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Alsum Farms specifies local as anything get an impressive in Wisconsin that deserve to be marketed in ~ Wisconsin and also Midwestern surrounding states. photo COURTESY that ALSUM FARMS

“Our place offers a logistical advantage, permitting for a quicker an answer to order needs and also quicker delivery, resulting in fresher product for consumers,” claims Christine Lindner, national sales and marketing combine at Alsum Farms, Friesland, WI. “Alsum’s farmer-focused packaging works to affix the customer with the grower. Additionally, in 2016 ~ above the front of our Russet, red and gold potato packaging, we added ‘Wisconsin Grown’ along with the Something special from Wisconsin logo. This helps Midwest consumers recognize these potatoes space grown locally.”

The variety of develop in the Midwest has spawned the breakthrough of countless value-added develop items.

“We purchase cabbage from our growers and ferment it,” claims Mac Anderson, cook marketing officer in ~ Cleveland Kraut Company, Cleveland. “Our height is throughout our local harvest from June to so late September. Us also source from various other regions prefer the Southeast, for this reason we have actually year-round product, and also we delivery throughout the nation.”

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Cleveland Kraut firm purchases many of its cabbage and also beets from the Midwest.

Cleveland Kraut supplies sauerkraut in a variety of flavors including beet red, roasted garlic and classic caraway.

“We see increased need for naturally fermented life sauerkraut,” says Anderson. “We’re seeing an as whole increased demand for fermented vegetables; we’re seeing demand skyrocket.”

Local Is Hot

Many Midwesterners have actually a one-of-a-kind affinity to specific local create items, like the apples and asparagus grown and harvested in Michigan and shipped to consumer throughout the region.

“Apples and asparagus space the biggest sellers from the Midwest, with an emphasis on local,” says Nick Mascari, chairman of Applewood Fresh, Sparta, MI. “Survey results present consumers prefer neighborhood produce.”

Applewood new is a significant consolidator, shipping just brief of a quarter of the apples get an impressive in the state.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture system is vital and accounts for $91.4 exchange rate in direct, indirect and induced economic task annually,” claims Antonia Mascari, vice president because that marketing in ~ Applewood Fresh. “The apologize harvest is late, respectable through early November. We sector our apologize globally. Us represent roughly 23% the the state’s total apple sales. Asparagus is a short season – May and June.”

While the Midwest is a major supplier the fruits and also vegetables come the whole area eastern of the Mississippi, the growers and shippers the the region also have a special partnership with the much more local communities.

“At Alsum farms & Produce, we define local together anything get an impressive in Wisconsin that can be marketed within Wisconsin and Midwestern bordering states as regional produce,” says Lindner. “Specific to the Midwest market, consumers look for out local, and Wisconsin-grown potatoes space positioned to to fill that industry demand. Growers continue to foster trusted relationships and partnerships through leading retail and also foodservice industries to carry out consumers through the an option to look because that Wisconsin Potatoes and use their food disagreement to support Wisconsin farmers.”

Alsum farms grows at least five various kinds of potatoes in the reduced Wisconsin flow Valley, and additionally ships much more than 300 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Local stays hot,” says Lindner. “According to the FMI’s The strength of produce 2019, 53% of consumer want broadened local assortment, and also 44% particularly look for in your ar grown and try to buy that whenever possible. Locally grown assets are a $20 exchange rate industry, according to the USDA.”

Buy Local develop programs indicate connecting farmers, consumer, and retailers in sustaining the local economy by transporting fresher fruits and vegetables.

“Major retailers assistance locally-grown develop as they seek partnerships with regional farmers to provide fresh create as they increase in the Midwest,” says Lindner. “Retail partners have actually recognized the local movement, and also it has actually been a benefit for farmer to engage and create a farm-to-fork link in marketing campaigns (TV, radio, digital and social media), in-store samplings and promotions.”

At the behest of their customers numerous retailers room redefining what they mean by local produce.

“The regional movement continues to evolve; retailers are redefining local as their customers tell lock what castle think is local,” claims Corsaro indigenous Indianapolis Fruit. “The basic trend is toward less food miles.”

While the tendency is toward develop from ranches closer to home, Midwesterners likewise think over there is something special about their farmland and also the civilization who have operated it for generations.

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“Our state’s sandy soils and also moderate climate offers optimal apple cultivation conditions, yet challenges have the right to be the ever-changing weather patterns,” says Antonia Mascari. “Our network of growers spans much more than 11,000 acre of prime apple-growing land. They space passionate human being who take pride in creating quality, flavorful fruit. Plenty of of our growers come indigenous multi-generational family members farms and also were born v ‘green thumbs.’ We represent an amazing group of growers that inspire our mission: to bring quality apples and also amazing flavor to market.

“At Applewood Fresh, we take into consideration ourselves more than just customer service, yet we excel at that too. We room in the organization of cultivating relationships. That way our strategy to depiction is no a one-size-fits-all. We strategy each one of our growers uniquely. We start with listening, learning and understanding. Then us take that from there.”