An annual event highlighting Florida’s farming industry will return Tuesday evening, punctuated by a speech from Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who announced the relaunch of a pandemic-era platform linking producers in the state to buyers and consumers.
The free Taste of Florida reception — co-hosted by the Farm Bureau and Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services — is open to the public and will run from 5-7 p.m. at the Capitol Courtyard in Tallahassee.
While the event will highlight Florida-grown products and the importance of the state’s agriculture industry, it will also feature a demonstration of the revamped online portal, Florida Farm to You. Fried’s agency created the portal in spring 2020 to help Florida producers circumvent market disruptions that shuttered traditionally dependable buyers like restaurants and hampered farmers’ ability to move perishable products.
The portal was — and continues to be — available on the Agriculture Department’s Keep Florida Growing webpage, a repository of agricultural information for the coronavirus era. The Florida Farm You commodities list, the webpage’s biggest piece, allows farmers to list produce they have on hand and their contact information so potential buyers and consumers can contact them directly.
The page also includes information on current Florida agriculture initiatives, safety guidance for food workers, details on the state’s agriculture purchasing programs, work visa information, guidance on food assistance programs and a U-pick farm locator, among other things.
Shortly after the launch of Farm to You last year, Fried said farmers went from preparing about 40 boxes of produce weekly for direct sales to 400.
“Given the positive reception of this initiative, (the Department) will be keeping the portal active and has worked to improve its functionality to make it more user-friendly,” a press note from Fried’s agency said. “At the reception, local products from participating farms from across the state will be available as well as a digital demonstration where attendees can explore the website.”
Taste of Florida guests will be able to sample products from the following vendors: Ag in the Classroom, Broward County Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau for Women’s Committee, Farm Credit, Fawn Weather Station, Florida Agriculture Museum, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Federation of Fairs, Florida Peanut Federation, Florida Poultry Federation, Florida State Beekeepers Association, Kumquat Growers, Orchard Pond, Serenoa Shellfish Company, Southern Craft Creamery, St. Augustine Distillery, St. Pete Distillery, TCC Oyster Program, Timbercreek Distillery, Watermelon Growers, Young Farmers and Ranchers, and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Florida Aquaculture Association.