|Ohio U. Executive Chef Matt Rapposelli (l.) with a local grower. |
Participation encourages other buyers to take a second look at offerings.
Ohio University has both helped improve campus food quality and reinvigorated the Chesterhill Produce Auction in southern Morgan County by participating in the seasonal twice-weekly event. The auction connects local farm operations with individuals and merchants seeking fresh, locally grown goods.
The auction had been struggling this summer when Matt Rapposelli, OU’s executive chef, agreed to begin participating. The entry of the area’s largest institutional buyer has drawn other participants, who figure if the university is interested in the product, then it must be good.
As for OU, Rapposelli says it has benefited his program. “First and foremost, the quality is far superior to commercial sources, and the prices are very good,” he notes. “Also, being able to help the local economy is great. The best part is we made great contacts. I suspect we’ll be able to increase the volume that we purchase next year.”
Rapposelli said he has already been approached by a variety of local growers asking what he needs and what crops they should cultivate for the auction next year. It just ended its third year and will run from April to November in 2008