Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Regional economies are green economies

An article posted on the Boston Globe's, The Green Blog about how a 24-year-old Maine farmer is part of a group seizing an opportunity presented by high fuel prices, reminded me once again how important it is for Maine to make smart choices, in determining future prosperity, or ultimately, face economic deprivation.

The organic food movement, while touting the health benefits of its produce, thought nothing about the environmental cost of trucking lettuce and other vegetables, 3,000 miles to consumers. The case for the“3,000 mile Caesar Salad” is tough to make, with gasoline spiking upwards, towards $5/gallon, not to mention, it doesn’t really smack of “green” business practices.

The world’s largest organic retailer, Whole Foods, is doing what it’s never done before—buying its northeast produce from regional producers. In the past, their justification against this practice went to a variety of reasons, including costly food safety requirements, particularly after the 2006 E. coli scare with spinach.

The cost of energy is changing that dynamic, and making regional options much more viable. Recognizing a market opportunity, a group of 30-something entrepreneurs, along with a $250,000 low-interest loan from Maine’s agriculture department, is fueling the venture.

Locally Known, located in Bowdoinham, Maine along the shore of the Merrymeeting Bay, was started in 2008 by Ben Dobson, David Goldstein and Shimon Horowitz along with equity partners Brook and Noah DeLorme, to address the need for significant access to local and regionally grown produce in the northeast.

Dobson and Goldstein have been farming organically in Maine since 2007; before that, they farmed in Massachusetts for Equinox Farm, a small specialized salad farm.

Regional competitiveness is going to be a defining characteristic over the next decade. Those areas that invest in workforce training, particularly in skills that are in demand, will promote job growth, as well as economic opportunity. Those states that lag behind the curve, will find it more and more difficult to catch up, and arguably, they’ll just languish at the bottom, possibly never to recover.

To read the entire Boston.com article, click here.


Anonymous said...

It was not a grant, but a low interest loan from the Agriculture Department.

bizdirector said...

I stand corrected; I updated the post to accurately reflect loan, rather than grant.


bizdirector said...

While the post is now correct according to my anonymous source, the article originally stated grant.

Is there somewhere I can source this, without spending a great deal of time with investigative reporting, which I enjoy, but is not what this blog is about?