Food City is well-known for its locally grown produce initiative. Through a partnership with local farmers, the retail supermarket chain offers their customers fresh-from-the-field fruits and vegetables during local growing seasons. Many items are delivered directly from the farm to the store the same day they are picked. What began over ten years ago with a small number of items, supplied by a handful of area farmers has now grown into a multi-million dollar operation. Today, Food City purchases an average of over $5,000,000 annually in fresh produce from local growers.
“We pride ourselves in selecting the best possible products for our customers,” says Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer. “Our local farms are known for producing some of the finest products in the country. Buying locally is the logical choice. It provides our customers with the freshest produce possible, while lending additional support to our local economies. In many instances, our locally grown produce arrives at the store the same day it was picked. It simply doesn’t get any fresher than that”.
TOP PHOTO: Steven C. Smith, Food City President/CEO and Bucky Slagle, Food City Director of Produce Operations pictured with the Cameron Family
In 2007, Food City created the Wayne Scott Memorial Grower of the Year Award. The award is named in honor of Unicoi County farmer Wayne Scott, one of the first to partner with the retail supermarket chain. Wayne Scott’s leadership, passion for the business and dedication to delivering the “best produce possible” are just a few of the reasons for his tremendous success. The award recognizes one outstanding grower each year.
“Scott Farms was among the first to partner with our company and Scott’s Strawberries continue to be one of our most sought-after products,” says Smith. “Wayne Scott was one of the finest, most honorable men I have ever had the privilege of doing business with. We thought it befitting to honor his memory and dedication to the agricultural industry with this annual award”.
Mike Cameron of Cameron Farms was named this year’s winner. Cameron is a third-generation farmer, who began more than 50 years ago on his family farm. At that time, tobacco was their main crop, although produce served as a cash crop as well. As a child, Cameron worked alongside his father, who taught him the values of farming and hard work. During his teen years, he worked the fields and transported tomatoes to a local produce market in Knoxville, TN. As an adult, he followed in his father’s footsteps, choosing a career in law enforcement, continuing to grow tomatoes part time for sale at local stores. In 2004, he retired from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, growing tomatoes and other vegetables full-time. In 2014, he joined the Food City locally grown partnership, serving select locations in Hamblen, Cocke, Jefferson, Grainger, Claiborne, Knox, Union and Sevier, TN and enabling the expansion of his vegetable crops. Cameron’s direct delivery of locally grown produce ensures farm to table quality freshness for Food City customers. He is proud to grow Grainger County tomatoes and vegetables, as well as Roma tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, green bell peppers, green beans and pickling cucumbers. Cameron and his lovely wife, Karen manage their 70-acre family farm, located in the Buffalo Community of Grainger, TN. They are the proud parents of four sons, one step-daughter and six grandchildren. Food City is proud to have partnered with Cameron Farms for the past five years.
Food City purchases produce from a number of local farms, including those in Grainger, Blount, Hawkins, Unicoi, Jefferson and Sullivan counties in Tennessee; Scott and Carroll counties and through Appalachian Harvest co-op for locally grown organics from the growers in Scott County, Virginia.
“We enjoy a great partnership with a variety of local farms,” comments Bucky Slagle, director of produce operations for Food City. “And we are proud to be the exclusive retail outlet for a number of them and of course our customers love the added convenience,” says Slagle.
Food City purchases a wide variety of items from local growers, including tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, cabbage, half runner beans, okra, peppers, squash, gourds, pumpkins, cantaloupes, watermelons, blackberries, strawberries, pears, raspberries, select organic produce and more.