Spencer, WV-The Mid-Ohio Valley Growers Association recently hired a part-time coordinator to help promote their cooperative local food brand, Mid-Ohio Valley Edibles (MOVE). Terri Toothman, a Roane County native, began her work for MOVE in January and has been working to recruit more farmers as members and to encourage the existing members to increase production to meet the existing demand for local foods.
While Terri is a native to the region, she is not a farmer herself. However, she and her husband are involved in managing several small restaurants throughout the region. She comes to MOVE with an extensive understanding of customer needs and cost margins. Her efforts will help MOVE acquire smaller restaurant accounts and provide closer customer relations.
The Grower’s Association incorporated as a cooperative in May 2013 and in August began selling as a cooperative using an e-commerce site where growers can list their available produce individually, but the customer can purchase from the entire co-op in a single order. Last season, MOVE sold fruits and vegetables to local schools and restaurants with a total of 21 farmers involved - including several youth members involved through FFA and 4-H participation.
As MOVE Coordinator, Terri’s role is to assist farmers in listing their products on the online market each week during the growing season and to contact customers for feedback and to inform them of any unique products or large quantity of products. She will also assist at the main aggregation point in Spencer, WV and train other farmers in setting up similar aggregation points throughout the region. Interested farmers from the Mid-Ohio region of West Virginia are encouraged to contact Terri to learn more about local foods, MOVE membership, season extension and ways to get involved in the local food movement.
MOVE hopes to expand the number of farmers participating in the co-op by adding options for livestock (protein) producers, value-added products and other farm products through the on-line market. MOVE has also developed retail sales opportunities by setting up for credit and debit card sales, and continues to work to train, educate and connect local farmers to local food opportunities.
Information on membership and becoming a co-op customer are available at MOVE’s on-line market at movedibles.com. MOVE also has a Facebook page at facebook.com/MOVEdibles to keep members, customers, and other farmers engaged in educational opportunities, community events, and information sharing.
Toothman’s position is the result of a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Funding became available in late October 2013. With funding from the same program, MOVE has developed advertising pieces to promote local food consumption, production and sales. In addition, they have produced local food recipe cards, bumper stickers, yard signs, and farmers market banners for the region. For more information about the Association, MOVE membership, season extension or local food opportunities, please contact Toothman at coordinatorMOVE@gmail.com or call 304-927-0975.