"Buy Local Broward" Begins Three-Month Celebration to Promote Local Food Sales

South Florida is fortunate to have a number of farmers' markets, many long-established, with a continually growing number of new farms and markets opening in the past several years. What you'll find on any given day depends on the season and the clientele the market attracts. Looking for organic produce, antibiotic-free dairy, free-range eggs, or raw honey? In Broward County, you can find it all -- and more.

Despite a recent renewal in local and sustainable farming, many area counties -- Broward included -- are losing much of their farming acreage to development. The threat of ever-impeding urban sprawl is spawning a new effort to promote local farming. At the forefront of such efforts: Fort Lauderdale-based TOUCH (Transforming Our Community's Health), which has launched a special event-based initiative known as "Buy Local Broward" in an effort to bring attention to the reemergence of local growers and availability of local produce in South Florida. Through TOUCH and the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, an emphasis is being placed on increasing access to locally grown produce and encouraging countywide farm-to-table efforts.

Want to help? Now, you can.

See Also: South Florida Farmers Markets

Recently, more than 80 local growers, chefs, restaurants, distributors, small grocers and specialty food stores came together to brainstorm ways to improve the local food economy in Broward County for the start of the official meet-and-greet that kicked off the 90-day "Buy Local Broward." The event was held at Funky Buddha Brewery in the Downtown Oakland Park Culinary District, in cooperation with the City of Oakland Park Community Redevelopment Agency.

Market 17 executive chef Lauren DeShields shared her reaction to the first-time event, saying, "I had such a great time at [Buy Local Broward]. I met a lot of interesting farmers who I hope to start supporting and buying from in the near future. It was a very inspiring event, and it is so exciting to see that Broward is moving in the right direction."

That's exactly the reaction TOUCH Program Director Teina Phillips was hoping for, as her goal is to create a healthier food network in Broward County, beginning with the growers. By providing them with more opportunities to market their products, said Phillips, growers can expand awareness to local consumers interested in having greater access to healthy food options.

In an effort to increase awareness and support for Buy Local Broward, several events have been organized for the public and will be held at farmers' markets across Broward County during the coming weeks featuring locally grown and locally made products, as well as free cooking demonstrations. To get involved, simply stop by any of the following farmers' markets and start supporting local:

The Dania Beach Patch Grand Opening Celebration

Saturday, January 18th from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Patch Farmers Market and Garden

1200 NW 1st Street

Dania Beach, FL 33004

Plantation Farmers Market

Saturday, January 25th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Plantation Farmers Market

12050 W Sunrise Blvd.

Plantation, FL 33323

Tamarac Farmers Market

Sunday, February 2nd from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

7825 Southgate Blvd.

Tamarac, FL 33321

For more information about Buy Local Broward, visit the Buy Local Browrad Facebook page and the TOUCH website, or email info@touchbroward.org.

Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.

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