UF/IFAS West Florida REC offers grits, cornmeal from grain produced on its farm
By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, firstname.lastname@example.org
JAY, Fla. — Do you know where your grits come from? Now, you can buy locally grown grits and cornmeal, and even visit the farm where the corn is grown.
The University of Florida IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center near Jay, Florida, is selling grits and cornmeal from corn grown and ground on its farm. The Gator Grind products are processed at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC and packaged for consumers there.
“We grow the corn, harvest it, put in the grain bin, clean it and grind it in a stone grist mill,” said Wes Wood, center director. “Visitors can come out to the UF/IFAS West Florida REC for one of our field days and see how grits and cornmeal are produced.”
Faculty at the UF/IFAS West Florida REC have been researching corn for decades, Wood said. These scientists conduct trials to determine the best corn varieties for the region, along with optimization of management variables such as soil fertility and pest control, he said.
“We conduct research that helps farmers grow the best crop possible under Florida Panhandle conditions,” Wood said.
Currently, the farm grows 12 acres of corn to supply the gristmill, but may expand that acreage as demand for Gator Grind grits and cornmeal grows, Wood said. “The revenue goes right back into outreach programs, and helps us contribute even more to Florida agriculture and healthy eating,” he said.
A two-pound bag of grits or cornmeal costs $5. You can visit the UF/IFAS West Florida REC to purchase products, or call 850-983-7121 to place an order. Or visit the Facebook page for more information and to get recipes.
“Consumers get a really good deal with us because major retailers sell stone-ground grits and cornmeal for twice as much,” Wes said. “Plus, visitors can come to the farm and see how their food is made. People are very interested in seeing the process and in buying a product from a center where the corn is grown. I’m hoping that we can supply grits and cornmeal to the Gator Nation and beyond.”