South Florida growers, buyers and consumers from Homestead to north of Orlando once again discover each other at the Localecopia “Meet & Greet” forum on Nov. 13 at The Breakers Palm Beach.
The expo-style food showcase is hosted bi-annually at the resort and will feature more than 40 of the area’s best, direct sources of sustainability. Attendees can get free samples, tastings and live demos in the Venetian Ballroom from 2 – 4 PM. Entry and parking are complimentary for attendees, with more than 350 anticipated.
Seventeen volunteers from The Breakers will assist in load-in, load-out and set-up.
“When we first did this (in 2007) we had 10 or 12 vendors and 30 or 40 people attending,’’ said Geoffrey Sagans, co-founder of Localecopa. “It’s been great to watch it grow, but there still is so much more room to grow.’’
The public event’s main focus, Sagans said, is to put local farmers in front of hospitality powerbrokers with the goal of those farmers eventually selling their products to restaurants.
“We just try to connect the dots,’’ he said.
An innovative, grassroots advocacy group, Sagans said Localecopia is committed to helping Florida farmers and food producers find demand for their food/wares, and enable chefs to buy locally, while fostering collaboration, sustainability, local food consumption and healthy living.
“As a business model, Localecopia bridges the disconnect between local producers and the end user, eliminating the supply chain, brokers and distribution channels in between,” Sagans said. “It’s a healthier food system…a boon to consumer well-being, the environment and the local economy. We hope this concept continues to grow in other communities.”
As members of The Breakers’ administrative purchasing team, and early advocates of green living many years ago, Sagans and co-founder Rick Hawkins began buying produce directly from Palm Beach County farms — from Delray Beach to Pahokee to Loxahatchee. Products are picked and delivered same day during the South Florida growing season (November to May) for use in the resort’s nine restaurants and banquet department.
They created Localecopia as volunteer leadership to expand their mission beyond The Breakers and serve as champions for promoting the numerous benefits of buying local: product quality, support of the area economy and farmers, preservation of farmland/green space, and reduction of greenhouse gasses/carbon footprint. Localecopia works with experts in sustainability and alternative energy research, and has key partnerships with the University of Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the local government.
In 2010, Localecopia Marketplace debuted as a needed distribution/transport system to pick up fresh, locally-grown produce from farmers and deliver it directly to schools (including Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Alachua and Union Counties), as well as hotels, restaurants and country clubs.
Here’s a look at some of the vendors that will attend:
A wide variety of participating vendors will include the following; more are expected to come:
American Culinary Federation
– (Palm Beach Couny Chapter)
Breakers Environmental Impact Team
Coast-to-Coast Food Brokers
Cod and Capers Seafood
Florida Cattle Ranchers
Florida Food Policy Council
Fort McCoy/Adena Farms
Fun with Food
Hani Honey Company
High 7 Teas
Indian River Select
Kai Kai Farm
Lakeside Ranch of Indiantown, FL Localecopia Marketplace
McCoy’s Sunny South Apiaries
Meals on Wheels — Pie It Forward
Old School Bakery
PNC Bank – Agriculture Division
Seaventure Clam Company
Skarlet Beverage Company
Slow Food Glades to Coast
Sweet Delight Cheesecakes
Sweet Endings Desserts
Sweet Jalane’s, Inc.
StartUP FIU Food
– (Florida International University)
The Breakers Palm Beach
• (Chef Demo Stations)
The Hidden Water
The Palm Beach Pickle Company
The Rumcake Factory
Third Wind Seafood
Treasure Coast Food Bank
Wrap Ole’ Tortillas
Photo Credit: Localecopia