Luther College and Grown Locally have been working together since November on a production planning process. Luther has bought produce from Grown Locally since about 2005, but it has often been hard for growers to know how much to plan on us buying and sometimes pricing has been out of our reach.
This year Luther decided to set volume goals, negotiate pricing and sign a letter of understanding with Grown Locally. The benefits for both parties are abundant. Luther can know what weekly volumes of local produce they can count on having available to incorporate into the menu, just as Grown Locally has a better sense of demand and can plan accordingly.
The production process involved Luther College gathering monthly volume numbers for each produce item that can potentially be purchased locally. This was done by looking at purchases that were made last year from Sysco (their food distributor) and Grown Locally. They also looked at things like frozen broccoli they were buying in October and converting that to fresh broccoli so as a way to utilize more local product.
It's been a great process for both Luther College and Grown Locally because it allowed both parties to voice needs and expectations of each other, while working towards the related goals of growing and buying more fresh, local produce. By working together the groups discovered that mixed greens and spinach are two things we cannot procure from the cooperative because the cost is just too high. Luther also learned that some items are much cheaper locally than through the distributor during peak season. Apples were one example of this.
The final products from the production planning process are a spreadsheet indicating the volumes that will be bought each month, a weekly delivery list that breaks down the monthly volumes into weeks, an agreed upon price list and a letter of understanding that states conditions that both parties will adhere to throughout the growing season.
On Thursday, March 1st representatives of Luther College, Grown Locally and the Food and Fitness Initiative gathered on campus to sign papers over brunch. The letter of understanding was signed by Johnice Cross, Grown Locally Coordinator, Mari Holthaus, Grown Locally Board Chair, Wayne Tudor, GM of Dining Services, Curtis Raddatz, Purchasing Specialist and Diane Tacke, VP for Finance and Administration. A brief video is in the process of being produced about this process and what it means for both parties.