WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Although farmers’ markets will end with the summer season, fresh, local produce will still be available, but at a different venue.
Wegmans in Northborough, which is set to open in October, is already working to bring its shoppers fresh fruits and veggies grown on local farms.
Store Manager Kevin Russell said that offering local produce is nothing new for the chain.
“We’ve always believed there are great products in our backyard,” he said. “We should be reaching out to local folks … and getting local produce."
Russell said the staff plans to reach out to closest farms first, like those in Westborough, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Hudson and Grafton. They plan to visit local farmers’ markets to check out produce and talk with farmers.
Wegmans’ staff has already met with Barberian Farms in Northborough to see if they were interested in selling their produce.
According to Russell, they have received a “good response from local farmers” and are working on networking and establishing relationships with them.
For many farmers it’s been an “eye opener,” said Russell, to think that they would be able to sell a large amount of produce to the store. With "buy local" becoming a watchword for shoppers, many regional supermarket chains are opting to look locally at smaller farms to provide produce for their customers.
Russell said farmers get “an outlet for their product,” which they would not normally have. Interested farmers and Wegmans staff meet to discuss what produce they’ll be able to provide and how much they’ll be able to grow. Farmers sell straight to the store and their produce is also marked as from their farm, so customers know where their food is coming from.
Wegmans staff want to make sure the farmers are known in the community and even plan to have them come into the store to show their produce.
“Farmers get to be appreciated,” said Russell. “If it’s grown local we want to see it. We want the best quality and freshest product possible.”
Russell said Wegmans will offer fresh produce as soon as they open. He hopes to have locally grown pumpkins, acorn squash, eggplant and a variety of apples, as well as many other fruits and veggies.
In addition to offering fresh, local produce, Wegmans does something unique – to ensure the produce is picked fresh as possible, Wegmans receives deliveries throughout the day and clocks in the store tell shoppers what time the next delivery will arrive.
Although it is important to offer the freshest produce to their customers, Russell said it is equally important to the company to build relationships with and boost the confidence of local farmers.
“We’ve always believed there are great products in our backyards,” said Russell.