Utah is one of the top producers of tart cherries in America, but that’s the only specialty crop the state is known for. One agriculture group is working to help local farmers grow more produce and increase their profit.
Utah imports 98 percent of the vegetables and 96 percent of the fruit we consume, according to a study by Envision Utah. Local farmers may not be able to grow mangos or pistachios but Lu Ann Adams, commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, says more fruits, vegetables, nuts and nursery crops can be produced in Utah.
“We certainly want to expand instead of decrease as new subdivisions are coming in and taking some of our prime ground, it’s important for us to keep ag viable," she said. "This program helps.”
The program by The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food include grants for projects designed to increase production and availability of fruits and vegetables, and other specialty crops in Utah.
“The outcomes are to increase nutritional knowledge, to promote food safety, to establish local and regional food systems, and to encourage people to buy local which is really important," Adams said. "Also developing school and community gardens and farm to school programs, and of course expanding access to the specialty crops to underserved communities.”
Adams says this would allow Utah to be more independent instead of importing such a large portion of produce. That would leave a smaller carbon footprint with less transportation and the local economy would generate more revenue.
“I think the nutrition benefit is really important, to get this kind of food in people’s diets,” she said.