July 15, 2014 11:59 am

Co-op expanding locally grown produce program

Co-op expanding its “Grown at Home” program, targets over one million pounds of Saskatchewan grown produce for food stores.

Joel Senick / Global News

SASKATOON – Co-op food stores is expanding a successful initiative it launched last year.

“Grown at Home” was started in 2013 with the Prairie Fresh Food Corporation, a group of 16 Saskatchewan producers with Co-op purchasing 750,000 pounds of fresh vegetables to sell at its 114 food stores.

The aim this year is to purchase 1.25 million pounds of fresh produce, an increase of 66 per cent.

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“The success of our Grown at Home initiative last year proves our members and customers have an appetite for high-quality, fresh and local products,” said Ron Welke, vice-president of food at Federated Co-op.

“As a result, we’re expanding this initiative, making more Saskatchewan produce available hand helping to grow the province’s horticulture sector.”

One producer who has benefited from the program is Kelvington area producer Emile Marquette, who has doubled his seeded acres over the past two years.

“The partnership has seen a shift from thinking small to thinking big now,” said Marquette.

“We’re now farming 70 acres and have expanded the packaging and cooling facilities to meet our future needs.”

Co-op said availability at food stores will vary and is based on producer supply and weather conditions.

The company is working with producers in other provinces to expand the initiative outside of Saskatchewan.

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