Wegmans Said Merging Locally Grown and Organics Trends at Company Farm

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. here is said to be tapping into two major consumer trends -- organics and locally produced foods, with the introduction of the Wegmans Organic Research Farm, which is in its first year of production.

C.e.o. Danny Wegman and his wife, Stency, rent the nearly 50-acre Canandaigua, N.Y. farm to the company, which manages it. The farm's goal is to provide locally grown fruits, vegetables, and honey to area Wegmans stores and ultimately serve as an educational model for local growers, employees, and consumers who wish to learn about organic food production.

"If it's not profitable, it's not much of a model. So that's our real goal, to establish organic growing practices so we can share with others. It has to be profitable; otherwise no one could do it. That's really the challenge," Wegman told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The state-of-the-art farm, which uses biodynamic and French intensive techniques, produces heirloom potatoes and tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, eggplants, and cabbages, among other crops. Wegman credits his daughter Colleen, president of the company, for initially interesting him in natural and organic foods.

Certification via the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York is not yet complete, so the produce from the farm can be designated only as organically grown, not organic.

Wegmans has had a homegrown program for about 20 years, and has been steadily increasing its complement of organic produce, even offering its own branded organic produce under its own label. Danny Wegman told the newspaper that he hoped to increase the homegrown program's organic selections by encouraging some of the company's current growers to go organic.
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