Our web team developed this cool map of our local growers and vendors and we couldn’t wait to share it with you. Now remember: this is a work in progress! Local partnerships are added all the time and some of our regions and stores aren’t represented yet. Honestly, I thought about not putting this on the blog because I know that some really great growers aren’t on here yet. But, I thought the coolness of being able to learn about the vendors who are represented outweighed waiting until more partners are added. So, check out our interactive local growers map. Supporting local farmers puts a "face" behind our foods and keeps us connected to the seasons, as well as the unique flavor and diversity of local crops. Local farms are a valuable component of a community's character, helping to maintain agricultural heritage, preserve land use diversity and moderate development. Many local farmers choose to diversify, growing a variety of crops instead of just one. This is a boon for biodiversity and your palate, since local crops are harvested at their peak of freshness and flavor. And most of the money spent on local production stays in the community, "greening up" the local economy. We know that we all win if we support our local farmers and producers. That's why Whole Foods Market created our Local Producer Loan Program (LPLP) to provide up to $10 million in low-interest loans to small, local producers. We want to make it easier for them to grow their businesses and bring more local products to market. Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000 and can be for things like purchasing more animals, investing in new equipment or converting to organic production. We minimize the fees, interest rates and paperwork that can often get in the way of a small local farm or business taking the next step to expand its operations. You’ll see LPLP on the map to signify partners who received loan assistance from this program. So, check out the map and let us know what you think!