The “Sweet Grown Alabama” program launched Aug. 6, giving shoppers looking to buy local and support Alabama farmers a way to quickly identify the items.
“As I travel across the state, most of the questions I receive from consumers are about their food and where it comes from,” said Rick Pate, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. “We want residents of Alabama to walk into a grocery store or farmers market and easily identify products grown in Alabama. The Sweet Grown Alabama brand logo will allow them to do so and ensure the product they purchase is grown to the highest standards of quality and food safety.”
Sweet Grown Alabama’s mission is to enhance marketing opportunities for Alabama farmers by connecting retailers and consumers to Alabama-grown foods and other agricultural products, according to a Sweet Grown Alabama blog post.
Both farmers and value-added product makers have an opportunity to join the program and brand their Alabama-grown products with the logo. Member farms and products also will be listed on an online searchable directory to make it easier for consumers to find the items.
“We are proud to be part of this effort to provide additional marketing opportunities for Alabama farmers,” said Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. “Our goal is to increase demand for Alabama-grown products and, ultimately, improve sales and profitability for farm families. Alabama is among America’s most agriculturally diverse states, and Sweet Grown Alabama gives us a chance to showcase the quality and variety of our products.”
Program membership level is based on the farm or company’s annual sales.
The Sweet Grown Alabama “Member” distinction is for farmers and makers of value-added products with at least 50 percent of ingredients grown in Alabama.
Sweet Grown Alabama “Associate” memberships are for associations, institutions, retailers, restaurants, businesses, farmers markets, agritourism operations and others who support the mission of the organization but do not have a product to brand themselves.
Sweet Grown Alabama “Supporter” memberships are available for those committed to the Sweet Grown Alabama mission with a desire to reach farmers and consumers across the state and improve the agricultural industry and overall economy in Alabama who contribute a minimum of $5,000 annually.
“By strengthening agriculture, Sweet Grown Alabama will benefit the entire state,” said Horace Horn, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative’s VP of external affairs. “Agriculture already contributes $70 billion to Alabama’s economy and accounts for more than 500,000 jobs. Sweet Grown Alabama will enhance economic development in rural communities by giving farmers and associated businesses additional resources for marketing.”
Sweet Grown Alabama is a nonprofit foundation governed by a board of directors that includes Pate, Parnell and Horn.
The board is assisted by an advisory committee made up of farmers, chefs, association representatives and other industry experts.
Future program plans include the online directory, robust consumer advertising campaigns, e-newsletters, farm-to-table dinners and more.
For more information, contact Sweet Alabama Grown’s director, Ellie Watson: (334) 399-7748 or [email protected]