For Immediate Release
September 30, 2002

For more information, contact:
Jered Lawson, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, 831.457.1007
Press Contact: Marina Malikoff, Straus Communications, 831.469.3349

Central Coast initiative helps consumers find fresh produce, supports local economy

SANTA CRUZ, CA - Living in the agricultural oasis of the Central Coast, it’s tempting for Santa Cruz residents to assume the broccoli, mixed greens and assortment of other vegetables and fruits on their dinner tables were plucked fresh from one of the hundreds of farms here in our fertile backyard.

Guess again.

According to national research, produce travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table, with some commodities originating from as far away as Mexico, China and New Zealand.

But next month, area farmers and grocery stores will be giving consumers more control over what they eat with the launch of the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaign.

Not only will the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” logo assure consumers they are purchasing the freshest, healthiest produce available, but their food dollars will support the family farmer, the local economy and the environment as well.

“Buying local makes sense for a variety of reasons,” said Jered Lawson, spokesman for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers. “There is a positive ripple effect with every purchase. We contribute to the local economy, consume foods from farmers we come to know, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel.”

The “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” direct marketing campaign will kick off October 12 at the Annual Harvest Festival at the UC Santa Cruz Farm.

A new survey of Santa Cruz County residents, conducted by Washington, DC-based Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research Inc., found that two-thirds of respondents say it is important to them that food comes from farms and ranches in their area.

For Santa Cruz’s Route One Farms, the campaign could be the boon they’ve been looking for - socially and economically.

“Ninety percent of what we grow now leaves the area for the national market,” said grower Jeff Larkey, who, along with his partner Jonathan Steinberg, farm more than 112 acres of certified organic land from Waddell Creek to Ocean Street Extension. “There have been years when we have actually lost money growing for the larger markets. But we always have done well in our local markets. I would be very happy if 50 percent of what we produce could be sold locally.”

According to 2001 figures, Santa Cruz County’s agricultural industry was valued at $365 million dollars. The state’s 350 crop and livestock commodities account for more than $26 billion in annual sales. An estimated 5,900 California farmers engaged in direct marketing practices - the greatest number in the nation.

Produce from “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” farms (including: Route One Farms, New Natives Organic, Live Earth Farm, UCSC Farm & Garden, Homeless Garden Project, High Ground Organics, Mariquita Farm and AMO Organics) will be available at participating grocery stores, including New Leaf Community Markets.

While the campaign will initially concentrate in the tri-county region of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito, plans include increasing the number of participating farms, expansion to San Mateo and San Luis Obispo counties, and partnerships with retailers, restaurants, school and other community groups.

"Buy Fresh, Buy Local" is a campaign of the Community Alliance with Family Farmers ( CAFF, a local non-profit, is building a movement of rural and urban people to foster family-scale agriculture that cares for the land, sustains local economies and promotes social justice. CAFF is part of the Food Routes Network (, which provides technical support to non-profit organizations to strengthen regional markets for locally grown foods using state-of-the-art communications techniques. For more information contact CAFF at 831.761.8507 or visit