The V.I. Department of Agriculture will be holding a farmers’ market on St. Croix targeting restaurants and chefs next Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agriculture complex in Estate Lower Love.
The “Virgin Fresh Farmer-Chef Market Day” will take place at the marketing building of the complex from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and has been designed specifically to benefit chefs and restaurants on the island.
Thursday, Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen said that the typical farmers’ market on St. Croix falls on Saturdays, and they wanted to reach out to chefs on the island, who generally shop for fresh produce during the week.
“Chefs usually shop during the days of the week when the farmers markets aren’t in place and we found out that Wednesday is one of the most popular days, so we decided to hold it then,” Petersen said.
Petersen said that the Agriculture Department has been reaching out through its marketing division with restaurants to compel chefs to get their produce from the market.
“The purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity and outlet for consumers, especially restaurant chefs, to purchase locally harvested fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs, and other farm fresh products. The market day experience will serve as a pre-event to the Crucian Fusion – Traditional Gone Gourmet CHANT food event, which is scheduled for Saturday, December 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fort Frederik Museum in Frederiksted, St. Croix,” he said.
Through the Virgin Fresh Marketing campaign, chefs participating in the Crucian Fusion activity are encouraged to purchase their cooking ingredients from local farmers, Petersen added.
“We are also hoping to create linkages through farmers and restaurants,” Petersen said. “For example, a farmer and a chef might meet at Wednesday’s market. Then, they will have developed a link, so that the chef might be able to contact the farmer during the week and buy additional produce from the farmer.”
Petersen added that the Department of Agriculture is proud to sponsor this activity.
“As a part of the department’s Virgin Fresh Marketing campaign this event definitely contributes to economic development in the territory by supporting local agribusinesses and strengthening marketing networks between producers and consumers,” he said.
According to Petersen, the “Virgin Fresh Farmer-Chef Market Day” is a culmination of a project that was funded by a USDA Agriculture Marketing Service grant, which was awarded to the Agriculture Department to improve linkages between producers and buyers.
“It is our hope that these linkages, once established, are fruitful and long-lasting,” Petersen said.
Funding from the grant award will be used to issue approximately $2,000 worth of Virgin Fresh purchase coupons to restaurant chefs for the exclusive purpose of shopping at the Virgin Fresh Farmer-Chef Market Day event.
“Each restaurant will get a Virgin Fresh coupon for $25 or $50 to use for purchase of local produce from farmers,” Petersen said.
The deadline for registering for this event is Friday, December 2, 2011, and there will be no charge to participate. For more information or to register to participate in the Virgin Fresh Market Day please call Ms. Audrey Browne at 778-0997, extension 228.