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Dan and Chelsea Erlandson, recently named Saskatchewan's Outstanding Young Farmers, are members of the Prairie Fresh Food Corporation, a group of local producers growing fresh produce for Co-op members and customers.

Saskatchewan-grown produce at home with Co-op

By Dan Yates

August 19, 2016

A record amount of Saskatchewan-grown produce is hitting the shelves at Co-op Food Stores this year.

As part of Co-op’s Grown at Home initiative, local farmers will harvest more than 500 acres of vegetables grown exclusively for Co-op in 2016.

That’s almost 100 acres more than last year, when the Prairie Fresh Food Corporation (PFFC), a group of 17 Saskatchewan producers, grew over one million kilograms (2.3 million pounds) of fresh vegetables for Co-op members and customers.

"Grown at Home is a rewarding partnership with local producers that is helping to build healthy communities in our province,” said Ron Welke, Associate Vice-President Food with Federated Co-operatives Limited.

"Together with the Prairie Fresh Food Corporation, we’re delivering fresh, locally grown vegetables to Co-op members and customers and supporting Saskatchewan farmers, who are growing their businesses and building a vibrant industry in Saskatchewan."

Growing industry

The volume of Grown at Home vegetables has increased every year since Co-op and the PFFC first partnered, growing more than 200 per cent since 2013. To meet the demand, growers have expanded their operations and adopted new technologies like automated packing machines.

"Producer and retailer partnerships help to build production capacity in the province,” said Connie Achtymichuk, Vegetable Crops Specialist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. “As a result, we are seeing an increase in seeded acres in Saskatchewan and producers investing in equipment and facilities to further expand their operations."

Local impact

More than 20 kinds of Saskatchewan-grown vegetables will be available at Co-op Food Stores this year, including lettuce, celery, cucumbers, beans, cauliflower and carrots, as well as Saskatchewan sweet corn. In 2015, PFFC members provided Co-op with more than 335,900 cobs of the popular crop.

“It’s provided all of our growth, this relationship,” said grower Dan Erlandson, whose farm near Outlook, Sask., has more than doubled in size in recent years.

Erlandson and his wife, Chelsea, were recently named Saskatchewan’s Outstanding Young Farmers. In addition to sweet corn, the couple provides Co-op with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and potatoes.

"The shelf space for local produce has been good for everyone,” said Erlandson. “It’s good for Co-op, us as producers and consumers. They can put a face to where their food is coming from."

Now in Co-op Food Stores

Since launching successfully in Saskatchewan, Grown at Home has expanded to include local producers in Alberta and Manitoba. Vegetables are available based on producer supply and weather conditions and will vary throughout the provinces. Products will continue to be stocked in stores on a seasonal basis until December.

Learn more about the Grown at Home initiative at www.coopfood.ca/local.