Buy Local! Today it seems everyone wants the flavor and freshness of Virginia Grown and produced foods and beverages, the hardiness of plants cultivated nearby and the assurance of knowing the local origins of their purchases.

If you sell local agricultural products, don’t pass up the chance to let potential customers know by listing your products in the 2009 Virginia Grown Guide. According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), which publishes the Guide, the deadline for submitting information is Monday, Dec. 15, 2008.

VDACS Commissioner Todd P. Haymore noted, “The Guide offers customers a direct link to farms in their communities and it is a valuable source for identifying product availability throughout the state. Knowing your farm families and supporting their livelihood is good for the local economy, good for your health and good for the environment.”

VDACS is inviting farms, farmers markets, orchards, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), agritourism sites, aquaculture operations, garden centers, direct marketers, producers and purveyors of local agricultural products to participate in the Guide. This is an exceptional opportunity to give the public the details about product assortments, locations, hours and special features through the popularity and wide distribution of the 2009 Guide.

The Virginia Grown Guide makes it simple to find what’s available nearby. Sellers are listed by county or city. Indexes show all the Guide’s sellers for categories such as apples, asparagus, berries, grapes, fish/seafood/aquaculture, fiber products, flowers and plants, grapes, herbs/herb plants/herbal products, honey, meat, poultry, eggs, melons, organic or natural, peaches/plums/nectarines, pumpkins and vegetables.

Additional indexes list farmers markets, wineries, Community Supported Agriculture and agritourism ventures, including harvest festivals, pick-your-own activities, pumpkin patches, wine events, farm animals, hiking trails, group or school tours, educational programs and farm vacations.

Thousands of copies of the Guide are distributed throughout the state, free to consumers via tourist information centers, libraries, Extension offices and chambers of commerce plus seasonal fairs and festivals. VDACS quickly fills consumer requests for the Guide generated by newspaper articles, TV and radio segments, and special promotions.

In addition, VDACS includes Guide listings online, with a hot link to the listing’s Web site. Any direct marketer may submit information to webmaster@vdacs.virginia.gov for a free listing on this site.

The cost of a listing in the 2009 Virginia Grown Guide is $50 per year, or less than $5 per month, but the benefits are enormous. To list your operation in the Guide, contact Cathy Belcher via e-mail at cathy.belcher@vdacs.virginia.gov, via phone at 804-786-4046 or via fax at 804-371-7786.