TROY (AP)?- Sandy Jackson, one of the Troy Fair directors, became acquainted with the PA Preferred program as a result of the fair's baking contest. Now she is encouraging growers and producers to jump on board with the initiative.
Not that there aren't a lot of PA Preferred participants already - Jackson has a long list of those already taking advantage of the program.
"I want to know where products come from, I want to support Pennsylvania agriculture," she said.
According to the state Department of Agriculture, PA Preferred is the official brand of the state's agricultural products. The program helps consumers identify products made or grown in Pennsylvania and makes it easier for them to support the state's agriculture industry.
"Some of our local participants are Northern Tier Greens that grow various lettuces, basil, cilantro, bok choi, arugula and kale," Jackson said in a news release promoting the program.
"Running Bear Farm sells PA Preferred eggs, produce, herbs, flowers and specialty items. Gardiner's Orchard LLC grows apples, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines and apple butter.
"1110 W. Main Ltd., a new restaurant in Troy, offers various dishes made with PA Preferred ingredients. Roloson Brothers Maple Syrup produces maple products. Sweeley Lane Sweets, an apiary located in Millerton, has honey products," she added.
The Department of Agriculture will provide producers or growers taking part in the program free point-of-purchase items such as stickers, decals, posters, banners, shelf talkers and window clings to let the public know they sell products grown or produced in Pennsylvania.
Jackson said it's easy to apply for the program.
The department will also add a participant's name to its website as a PA Preferred participant, she added.
Jackson recalled how she became involved with PA Preferred.
"The chocolate cake, angel food cake, apple pie, and the children's cookies, bars (and) brownie contests are sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania's Egg Farmers, the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program, and the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs," she said.
"One of the ingredients in the baking contest recipe must be a PA Preferred ingredient. Well, this opened a can of worms, because I didn't know who to advertise as PA Preferred participants. As a result, I contacted the (state) Department of Agriculture to obtain details of becoming an advertising participant of their program.
"It's promoting agriculture in our area, that's the big part of it," she said of PA Preferred.
Packets of information about the PA Preferred program are available from Jackson at the Ameriprise office, 815 Canton St. in Troy or by calling her at 570-297-2612.
The program's website is www.papreferred.com.
The Department of Agriculture notes that "buying PA Preferred supports local farmers and producers, who in turn support the community. National Agricultural Statistics Service data shows 85 percent of farm revenue stays in the community, exchanging hands 2 1/2 times. Shopping with an eye for the PA Preferred logo wherever you shop keeps jobs in Pennsylvania."
"I've contacted the marketing department of the Tops grocery chain to see if they would participate and advertise in their stores the products that are PA Preferred such as eggs, milk, butter, honey, maple syrup, meats, cheeses, etc.," Jackson said.
"I know Schneider Valley Farms milk is PA Preferred, so it's the milk I buy even though it may be a little more expensive. I want to support our local farmers and buy items grown or produced in the state.
"I have a daughter going to Penn State for an agriculture dairy science degree, so this subject is very near and dear to my heart. I hope by providing an expanded list of PA Preferred members that we will have greater participation in the Troy Fair Baking Contest this year," she added.