Fifth Season Cooperative (FSC) is in need of more produce grower members to meet the high foodservice demand for produce. The co-op aggregates and distributes locally grown produce, meats, dairy and value-added products through distributor members to hospitals, schools, and businesses in the greater Driftless Region, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago.
An informational meeting for interested growers will be held from 1-3 p.m. Dec. 3 at the Food Enterprise Center, 1201 N. Main St., Viroqua. Any growers interested in becoming a member and selling through FSC are encouraged to attend.
Information on which produce items are needed, farm and food safety considerations, advantages of selling through Reinhart Foodservice and their quality assurance, packaging and labeling requirements will be presented.
For more information, contact the Fifth Season office at 638-2667 or email Jamie Deaver, FSC Office Manager, at email@example.com.
‘Product Service Show and Tell’ is subject of Dec. 9 I&E Club
The next Inventors and Entrepreneurs (I&E) Club meeting will be held Dec. 9, at 6 pm at the Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua.
The topic “Product/Service Show and Tell” will give inventors and entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their products, inventions and services, share questions with peers, and receive feedback and suggestions to improve designs, evaluate uses, and explore new market connections.
Bring whatever you would like to share with the group. Be ready to learn some new tips and we’ll celebrate your ideas. Everyone is welcome.
For more information, contact Sue Noble, Executive Director of VEDA, at 608-638-8332 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kickapoo Valley Produce is new Food Enterprise Center tenant
This month we feature Kickapoo Valley Produce (KVP), another new tenant at the Food Enterprise Center.
Brian Wickert of Viroqua started KVP this year. As President of the Board of Directors for Fifth Season Cooperative (FSC), which has developed a regional food distribution system, and founder of EZ Farming Produce Group, a producer group member of FSC, Wickert is well experienced in growing and selling produce.
He explains, “Kickapoo Valley Produce works with 20-25 small, local, organic vegetable farmers to market their produce to retail stores in our upper Midwest region. Most of our growers are within 10-15 miles of Viroqua. About 75% of the farmers are Amish and 25% of the farmers are not Amish. We market together so we can receive higher prices for our vegetables.”
KVP sells a variety of organic vegetables including kale, collards, chards, cilantro, green onions, winter squash, cabbages, zucchini, yellow summer squash, Brussels sprouts, onions, and cucumbers. The business works out of Suite 2 in the Food Enterprise Center in this way: “We receive orders on Monday and Thursday,” Wickert said. “The growers call in and receive the amount and type of organic vegetables they need to deliver on Wednesday and Saturday. The fresh vegetables ship out on Thursday and Sunday.”
“The organic vegetables will be in stores in about two days after they are picked up in Viroqua,” he went on. “We started shipping in June and will end our season after Thanksgiving. At this time, most of our vegetables are shipped to Iowa. The grocery stores that carry our organic vegetables are Hy Vee and Faraway stores.”
Wickert does marketing and sales for KVP, while seasonal helpers Jake Lueck, Randy McNall, Tracy Houge, Lon Whitaker, Rown Wildingway, and Brant King load the pallets of produce that are to be shipped. Teri Wojan is the group’s bookkeeper.
Kickapoo Valley Produce is benefitting our area by helping local organic vegetable growers reach new markets and bringing fresh produce to regional consumers. As its logo reads, “Healthy Food From Our Family to Yours.” Wickert looks to future growth of the business. “We hope to expand into new markets and increase our sales so we can offer full time work for about 26 weeks out of the year. We’re very grateful for the infrastructure that the Food Enterprise Center provides to help our business grow.”
Welcome, Kickapoo Valley Produce!