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Keeler Conducts Local Foods Research

Posted by Jayce Koester ’16, Center for Small Towns on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014


Maria Keeler ’16, Shoreview, is serving the community of growers, producers, and advocates of local foods in west central Minnesota. Keeler is partnering with the University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) and Ryan Pesch, University of Minnesota Extension, to study pricing at farmers markets in the west central region.

Keeler is documenting prices per pound for different types of produce at farmers markets and comparing them to the prices at local grocery stores to gain a better understanding of the state of farmers markets in the area. Her work will not only give growers at farmers markets benchmarks for pricing their products, but also prove whether local foods are more expensive as is commonly believed.

“The end goal of the project is to provide an analysis of local market to [grocery] store prices in west central Minnesota,” says Keeler. “The results will be written up into a fact sheet and shared throughout the region and with participating [farmers] markets.”

Keeler finished the documentation project earlier this month. Her next step is to compile a research report for the University of Minnesota Extension.

Keeler’s position was supported by the Roy Bridgford Summer Scholars Program Award. The program was established in memory of Roy O. Bridgford by his daughter, the late Betty Bridgford Orvis, and her husband, Robert E. Orvis Sr. The Bridgford Summer Scholars Program will support a summer research and internship experience for students who are interested in expanding their knowledge and experience in relation to agriculture and food and crop production at Morris.

CST is a community outreach program that serves as a point-of-entry to the resources of the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, k-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, and other University units are able to utilize CST’s resources as they work on rural issues or make contributions to rural society. Its mission is to focus the University’s attention and marshal its resources toward assisting Minnesota’s small towns with locally identified issues by creating applied learning opportunities for faculty and students.