CULTIVATING CONNECTIONS: For the past three years, Dr. Robert Kluson
, shown here planting muscadine grapes in a new vineyard at the Crowley Museum
and Nature Center
in Myakka, has worked to open up markets to local farmers.
You may think you're fighting the good fight when you spurn Chilean asparagus or opt for Plant City strawberries, but Dr. Robert Kluson
is on the front lines of the war for local foods.He's been an organic farmer in California and a land manager for Sarasota County, but for the past three years his focus has been bringing local agriculture and local markets together.As the agriculture/natural resources extension agent for the Sarasota branch of the UF/IFAS Extension, Dr. Kluson spends his days meeting with farmers and chefs, big corporations and tiny distributors, trying to figure out better ways to get local food to local folk.He
travels as far south as Fort Myers and as far north as Gainesville to put together coalitions of growers, suppliers and buyers.According to him, the market is ripe for keeping locally produced food in the community.
What is it you do, exactly?Kluson
: I'm very interested in linking local agriculture to local markets, beating the bushes to find people who are looking for local food and finding people to grow it.