New group promoting N.D. produceA new group is helping promote fruits and vegetables grown in North Dakota. The advisory board, which met for the first time this month, was created by Holly Mawby, director of Minot State University-Bottineau’s Entrepreneurial Center of Horticulture, which has been up and running since January.
BOTTINEAU, N.D. (AP) — A new group is helping promote fruits and vegetables grown in North Dakota.
The advisory board, which met for the first time this month, was created by Holly Mawby, director of Minot State University-Bottineau’s Entrepreneurial Center of Horticulture, which has been up and running since January.
The goal is to help the center boost the produce industry in North Dakota, which Mawby said lags behind neighboring states.
“This is a huge project, from growers, to teaching to distribution to demonstration,” Mawby said. “And the big thing is, we’re going to have to face this distribution elephant.”
Mawby has analyzed produce distribution systems in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut and would like to implement something similar in North Dakota. She said she has negotiated with two statewide distributors.
MSU-Bottineau Dean Ken Grosz said the promotion effort will help producers and also put the campus in the middle of an expected boom in the locally grown and organic produce industry in coming years.
One of the advisory board members is Terry Borstad of Cando, who also is a board member of the Agraria restaurant in Washington, D.C. The project of the North Dakota Farmers Union is owned mainly by farmer investors and showcases fresh beef, vegetables, and other crops sent directly from family farms across the country.
“We try to educate the public about where their food comes from,” Borstad said of Agraria. “It’s connecting the producer with the consumer. It’s source verified.”
Doug Hevenor, CEO of the International Peace Garden on the U.S.-Canadian border near Dunseith, said vegetable marketing possibilities exist in North Dakota. Hevenor, who has experience in greenhouse production in Ontario and Florida, said that if cucumbers and peppers can be grown in northern Ontario they certainly can be grown in North Dakota.
Mawby said she would like to start some training next fall and winter on a variety of topics including growing techniques, season extension, packaging, trends and marketing.
She said consumers want to know where their food is coming from, and fuel costs are driving prices sharply higher for products coming to the state from the coasts.
“This is an industry in North Dakota that has to be supported,” said Greg Hagen, who works with Mawby in writing grants for the Bottineau center. “It’s a big business. It’s a lot of small businesses that create a big business.”