Monday, November 06, 2006

Agricultural Specialties & Niches

My wife and I were in San Francisco, CA for the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties (NAIOP) Annual Meeting this past week. NAIOP not only published BoomtownUSA but is also the organization that taught me the most about becoming an industrial developer. I’ve learned a great deal from the many friends in the organization who took me under their wing when I was a fledgling, inexperienced industrial developer. I will be forever grateful.

Across the street from our hotel was a four day a week farmers market adjacent to the Ferry Building which has been converted into a permanent food and restaurant market. We were overwhelmed with the various choices available from a diverse group of farmers and producers. We explored a mushroom store with over 30 varieties of different mushrooms; organics from Tuscany; an organic meat purveyor; a salt tasting booth from the Philippines; three chocolate stores; four or five olive oil producers; a tea shop; a honey tasting booth; an herb shop; artisan cheese; and a caviar café.

There were several farmers offering to deliver farm fresh produce directly to consumers on a weekly basis. One offered to deliver an organic snack pack of fresh fruits and nuts directly to offices. The product offering changed with the seasons, including Satsuma mandarins, peaches, figs, pistachios, melons, walnuts, apples, dried fruit, pears, grapes and almonds.

Janice and Harley Embrey of Embrey Family Farms were offering bottled olive oil from their 140 acre olive tree orchard. They first planted their olive trees twelve years ago in Orland, CA planning to sell the whole olives. Janice Embry told me, “We used the damaged olives to make olive oil. The demand grew so greatly that two years ago we refocused upon olive oil production and started to bottle our own.” They offer several different products, all with their own unique taste.

The Sonoma County Farm Trails organization offered a four color magazine of over 150 farms in Sonoma County with descriptions of the crops they produced and maps of how to find the farms. Farms were sorted by Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs, Wineries, Breweries, Hard Cider, Meat, Dairy, Animals, Pumpkins and Christmas Trees.

There is a revolution taking place in the importance people are putting upon both the quality and safety of their foods. What we saw at the farmers market is what I believe I will witness across the country in the next several years. What are you doing to get this movement started in your area?

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