Indiana Unveils the Indiana Grown Initiative
Indiana is the tenth-largest farm state in the United States and continues to struggle with sustainability. Spanning 19-million acres of farm and forest, Indiana has more than 60,000 farms producing throughout the state. However, with the demand for locally grown and sourced products, the state has been challenged to make local a priority for both the consumer and the producer. What has resulted, is the Indiana Grown Initiative, which is a state lead program supported by Indiana’s most prominent names in the industry.
What is the Indiana Grown Initiative? The Indiana Grown Initiative educates consumers on the importance of buying Indiana Grown products, helps Indiana farmers and producers sell more products and supports Indiana processors in their effort to process more Indiana Grown products. Indiana Grown members and partners include farmers, producers, processors and artisans, as well as retailers, grocers and restaurants.
The new initiative, led by Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, ISDA and a 12-member Indiana Grown Commission. The 12 members of the commission consist of people deep within the Hoosier food community. The current members consist of the following people:
Ted McKinney, Director of the State Department of Agriculture
Chris Baggott, Founder of Tyner Pond Farms and Chairman of Husk Foods
Margaret Davidson, Vice President of Strategic Development of Asher Agency
Jodee Ellett, Purdue Extension Local Foods Coordinator
Pete Eshelman, Owner of Joseph Decuis
Cheryl Carter Jones, Farmer of The Food Farm
Chelsea Marburger, Director of Civic Engagement for the Indianapolis City Market
Jeanette Merritt, Marketing Director of Indiana Wines & Purdue Wine Grape Team
Mark Straw, Executive Administrator for the Indiana State Egg Board
Debbie Trocha, Executive Director at Indiana Cooperative Development Center
Robert White, Retail agriculture business specialist at Indiana Farm Bureau
The initiative will connect businesses that use or sell agricultural products such as restaurants, grocers, wholesalers, processors and farmers’ markets with Indiana-based producers of meat, milk, cheese, fruit, vegetables, wine, beer and forest products.
Indiana Grown has immense potential to create new local and regional market channels for Indiana agricultural and food businesses through three initiatives:
Educate consumers on the importance of buying Indiana Grown products;
Increase networking and sales opportunities for Indiana farmers; and
Expand support for Indiana processors in their effort to process more Indiana Grown products.
“The Indiana Grown Initiative will be an incredibly useful and economically impactful tool for consumers and producers alike,” said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann. “I applaud the collaborative work of the Indiana Grown Commission over the last year to thoughtfully develop a program to identify and promote Hoosier products and facilitate moving them from the farm to the table.”
According to David King, the program director, “Indiana Grown will have a very positive effect on the economy as it will make it easier for consumers to find products from Indiana producers, assist in developing a retail presence in many retail stores for Indiana farmers and producers, open more venues for Indiana farmers and producers to sell their products, and create a need for expansion. All of these are key focuses of the Indiana Grown Initiative and together will offer a positive effect on our economy.”
Hoosiers spend $16 billion per year buying food, yet more than 90 percent is sourced outside of Indiana. Statistics such as this prompted the creation of Indiana Grown. Starting this month, consumers will begin seeing Indiana Grown decals, kiosks and logos and highlighting products that are grown, produced and processed in the Hoosier state.
“Indiana Grown is the first statewide, state-supported program that creates a clear understanding as to where products are farmed, produced and/or processed in Indiana,” said ISDA Director Ted McKinney. “Indiana Grown is aimed at lifting up the state’s robust food and beverage industry by providing the necessary tools to further promote local products to Hoosier consumers.”
The initiative integrates deep throughout the state. David King explains “The initiative is aimed at consumers to encourage buying more local products. It is aimed at retailers to allow them the opportunity to purchase more Indiana Grown products to offer to Indiana consumers. It is aimed at farmers and producers to create a need for current and expanded production. Truly, it is aimed at everyone to create an awareness of agricultural growth opportunities in Indiana.”
Consumers will be able to identify Indiana Grown members’ products using four categories:
100% Indiana – Products within this category must be grown in Indiana and/or all ingredients must come from Indiana.
Prepared in Indiana – Product ingredients can be sourced from anywhere, but 100 percent of the production must be done in Indiana.
Partner – To be an Indiana Grown partner, a company or institution must assist in marketing Indiana grown products and members.
Indiana Grown – This category applies to all other Indiana Grown members.
Farmers, producers, packers, wineries and distilleries, artisans, restaurants, and any business producing or marketing Indiana-made products should look to apply to become a program member. Retailers who partner in the sales and marketing of Indiana Grown products, as well as wholesalers and distributors of Indiana Grown products are eligible for membership and partnership opportunities. As a member they will be able to utilize all the available opportunities Indiana Grown will offer.
Member applications are available at IndianaGrown.org. Applicants must provide business information and answer questions to ensure their products meet Indiana Grown’s guidelines. There is no cost to become a member.
For more information on Indiana Grown or to apply for membership, visit IndianaGrown.org.