Stocking the shelves

Published 6:24 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

Want to find the freshest foods grown locally?

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services just made that process a lot easier.

The department has launched the new Virginiagrown.com Web site, which is an interactive site allowing consumers to find Virginia grown fruits, vegetables and other nursery products in any area of the state.

“People are more and more interested in knowing where they foods come from and getting them locally,” said Elaine J. Lidholm, director of communication for the

department. “We do try to be aware of and be sensitive to what people tell us they want.”

Lidholm said the department had wanted to launch an interactive site for years, but were not able to because of budget constraints.

This year, however, the department received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to make it happen.

“As more and more people make a commitment to eating local food we thought it was crucial to give them more tools to do so,” Charles Green, director of marketing for the department, said in a released statement. “When we realized we could get more funding for it, this interactive site seemed like a smart way to go.”

The department always had listings from local farmers, but consumers would have to manually thumb through printed out listings or later go to the Web site, but could not search by product or by zip code.

Within the new site, consumers can search for any produce they want and find it at every location it is sold at across the state.

Additionally, the new site will be a benefit to farmers trying to sell their produce. Farmers can post their products and services on the site, and update their listings seasonally with a new online form.

“This is great news for consumers who live in or travel through Virginia,” Todd P. Haymore, VDACS Commissioner said in a release. “VirginiaGrown.com puts the entire spectrum of specialty products grown, raised, produced or processed in Virginia at consumers’ fingertips. It also includes a mapping and direction function to help consumers get from their door to the farm, roadside stand or farmers market. It’s our first consumer product Web site to be fully interactive, and it serves farmers and consumers alike.”