A lot of customers focus on price before they think about where a baker gets its ingredients, but Orwasher’s Bakery wanted to let its shoppers know its bread has a very New York backstory.
“I wanted to use New York flour,” the Upper East Side bakery’s owner Keith Cohen said of the Cayuga Pure Organics flour from upstate. Getting local flour at a good price was difficult.
New Yorkers have gone wild for farmers markets, but the locavore movement hasn’t reached wholesale markets for manufacturers, small grocers, schools and other institutions.
The state’s agriculture department is working with city groups to change that by connecting farmers with buyers.
“There’s a heck of a lot of interest from buyers wanting to source directly from farmers,” Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC, which runs the city’s 50 farmers markets. “What is really lacking is the distribution system for local farmers.”
GrowNYC is expanding its Wholesale Greenmarket at Hunts Point’s New Fulton Fish Market and hosting a “buyers’ tour” July 27 for outlets to meet farmers too small for wholesale markets but too big for regular retail.
The N.Y. Industrial Retention Network’s is developing a “Farm to Factory” program for downstate food manufacturers and upstate farmers, making matches, for instance, between an egg roll company and a farmer growing cabbage.
“It’s going to take time and hand-holding and building relationships,” said Van Ooyen. “[But] it’s vital to the city and region.”