May 3, 2020
By: Jim Frankowiak
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a widespread impact on the Sunshine State. Florida agriculture has experienced significant disruption to its supply chain by the nearly overnight shutdown of the foodservice sector. This has left a sudden surplus of Florida grown fruits and vegetables that is devastating to the state’s producers.
This has placed greater importance on the “Buying Local” movement in support of Florida growers. However, those wanting to buy local and help producers may not know what commodities are available, how much they cost, and where they can be purchased.
Hillsborough County Extension recently developed an online directory of farms with surplus produce available for sale. The intent of this new web presence is to help local producers connect directly with consumers and community groups.
Access to the site is available at https://syf1.ifas.ufl.edu/Hillsborough. The site enables farmers in Hillsborough and adjacent counties to sign up and detail produce for sale. It also has a consumer/community group subscription at no cost for periodic updates on farmers and the produce they have available, cost, and locations for purchase.
Although the creation of this site was prompted by the impact of COVID-19, Extension will continue operation of the site and updates going forward.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has a regularly updated website that lists which fruits and vegetables are in season statewide along with recipes that use those items. Those recipes are offered in English and Spanish, featuring Fresh From Florida’s Chef Justin. Some are online video presentations.
The website: followfreshfromflorida.com also offers visitors information regarding the location of Florida’s Farmers and Seafood markets. Growers wishing to become members in Fresh From Florida are also directed to the site for membership information.