FLEETWOOD, Pa. – For family farms across Berks County, there is hope that a renewed interest in buying locally will help to create a brighter future for their life work.

"It's been a little bit crazy,” said Jodi Gauker, co-owner of Gauker Farms. "Whenever people started going to the grocery stores in March and were finding that there was no beef on the shelves, that was a real wake-up call."

That call has been answered in the form of a new initiative from Berks County called "Grow Together." The effort has created an organized list of local farmers that sell their products direct to customers.

"A lot of people were looking to buy local and want to buy from small businesses but weren't sure where they were or how to do it, and many farms like ours, we don't have regular store hours,” Gauker said.

This new initiative looks to reengage a public that may have become disconnected from their local farming communities.

"There is still a disconnect,” said Katherine Hetherington-Cunfer, director of government and community relations at the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

“There’s a lot of folks that are a couple generations removed from agriculture, and don't realize they could literally travel on a car, a bus, walk down the street, find it at a farmers market," she said

Now, this new website makes available to the public a comprehensive list of farmers who provide locally-sourced products.

"Produce, meat, dairy, we have an 'other' category which is honeybee farmers,” Hetherington-Cunfer said. “We have horticulture and Christmas trees, and it helps give you an easy resource that's also cell phone friendly.

Find out more on the Grow Together resource on RebuildBerks.com.

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