ABINGDON, Va. - For years Food City grocery stores have been buying produce from local farmers.
Friday they named their grower of the year in Abingdon.
Despite an off-year for farmers, they are very appreciative of having a market for their product.
It's a part of Food City's marketing campaign, showing commercials about the local farmers that they buy from.
From the farmers stand point, it's nice to have a local chain the seeks them out and buys their products.
"They're the reason I'm in business now because without them I wouldn't be. In my community the population is down eighty percent, 20 percent that's left they don't work coal because the mines all shut down," Kentucky apple grower Terry Creech said.
"We look at this as a partnership to be able for people to keep the family farms and keep their families but more importantly than that, for our consumers to be able to get some fresh local produce," Food City CEO Steve Smith said.
Each year the grocery chain gathers all of the farmers together to show their appreciation and to award their grower of the year, named for the late Wayne Scott a well known local grower.
This year's winner is Harvey Lafollette. For the last 15 years he's been growing flowers and produce in several greenhouses in Surgoinsville in Hawkins County.
"We doubled our size in the last 15 years as they grow, we grow. they need more stuff and we add more greenhouses and step up production," The Grower of the Year said.
The company reported a down year for local product simply because of last season's weather conditions. It even had an effect on the grower of the year in his greenhouses.
"It's still a struggle. You know even when it's cloudy outside you don't get the sunshine and sunshine is what makes all of them grow," Lafollette said.
"We just need mother nature sometimes to cooperate with us a little bit. Last year was one of the rainiest seasons that we've had. It hurt a little bit of the local farmers. Hopefully this year it will be a lot better," Smith added.
Better weather, better crops, more to sell.