During the spring and summertime weekends, my social media feeds are filled with snapshots of my friends’ latest acquisitions from local markets. Their excitement over finding unusually colored carrots, unique greens or a plump heirloom tomato at a farmers market is a feeling I doubt that they experience at the local year-round grocery store.

And produce growers are taking notice of how much people enjoy this local, direct-to-consumer buying experience. In last year’s State of the Produce Industry Report, we found that 65 percent of greenhouse produce growers were selling their fruits and vegetables through direct-to-consumer channels like farmers markets, onsite markets and online.

Have you dived into the opportunities in these markets? Whether you’re already involved in local markets or not, you’ll want to check out this month’s cover story, where we cover the basics of joining or forming a farmers market, how to obtain financial support and choose a location, and five important steps to farmers market success. Check it out here.

In this month’s Consumer Corner, we also look at several niche food delivery services that are incorporating local and unique produce offerings into their meals. Click here for more.

Wherever the produce is being sold, growers must be cognizant and understand the latest food safety guidelines to maintain compliance with them. Lisa Lupo, editor of sister publication Quality Assurance & Food Safety, breaks down the pertinent rules and regulations pertaining to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), organic certification and other food safety aspects in our Food Safety Guide, starting here.

If you’re growing in a hydroponic system, you won’t want to miss Christopher Currey’s tips for training and pruning your crops here. And if your operation’s digital presence could use a boost, click here for industry consultant Leslie Halleck’s advice on how to revamp it.

Lastly, you may have noticed that this is the first time you’ve received a March issue of Produce Grower. This year, we’ve added two new issues (March and September) to bring you even more articles with relevant business management, production and varieties information to improve your growing operation. If you would like to share the innovative ways you’re selling or producing your crops, have a suggestion for a topic we should cover, or have a question or comment, drop me a line at kvarga@gie.net

kvarga@gie.net | (216) 393-0290

Twitter: @Karen_GIE