GREENFIELD — The Hancock Harvest Council’s desire to expand its presence throughout central Indiana has taken the form of a new name.
At its annual meeting on Monday, the council rebranded itself as the Hoosier Harvest Council to reflect its regional focus.
The council is a member-supported group championing small-farm sustainability that seeks to connect consumers to locally grown and raised products, especially through a network of farmers markets.
However, some of the council’s efforts to coordinate the various markets in other communities and counties have been met with the misconception that the council worked exclusively in Hancock County, said incoming president Jonathan Lawler.
“Many times, we would approach people in Henry or Delaware counties, and they would say, ‘but you guys are for Hancock County,”’ Lawler said. “And that’s just not the case.”
The group hopes to begin making its mark regionally this year with public education and membership drives.
“The larger we grow, the more impact we can have in central Indiana and beyond,” Lawler said.
By positioning itself beyond the county lines, the group sees the opportunity to expand its scope and do more for a wider audience of producers and consumers.
“There is a huge demand for locally sourced goods, and it will be important for the harvest council to rise and meet the needs of those people,” he said.
To raise its presence, the council hopes to establish a program where excess produce is channeled to local charities and food banks.
“Giving back to the community will be huge for us,” Lawler said.
The group will also look to establish agriculture-related scholarship funds, legal aid for members and a farmers’ disaster fund.
“That’s what communities did 100 years ago: take care of each other. And that doesn’t happen as much anymore,” Lawler said.
The council hopes to increase public agricultural awareness by utilizing social media and becoming regulars at markets and other events.
“There is such a misunderstanding every day about what we do as producers,” Lawler said. “We can be who Indiana looks to to understand what we’re doing in bringing food to the marketplace.”
Locally, residents can visit the Harvest Winter Market, held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of each month through April at the Show Arena at the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds, 620 N. Apple St. in Greenfield.
Despite the name change, information about the council can still be found at its website, www.hancockharvestcouncil.com.