“Speed Dating” for Ag buyers and sellers in North State – from the Marysville Appeal-Democrat

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http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/sessions-123723-yuba-dating.html

Hollywood helped inspire the Marysville event that brought agricultural buyers and sellers together Monday at Yuba-Sutter Ag Speed Dating for what was termed “cross pollination.”

That is what happens when pollen from a different plant is delivered to a flower. Debra Lucero, chief executive officer of the Butte County Economic Development Corp., said the five-minute sessions are meant to produce successful new business connections.

Lucero traced ag speed dating origins to her learning how television script writers would have two-minute sessions with producers to try and sell their stories.

“I thought this could work with agriculture,” she said.

It has been in Butte County for the past three years, and the event held by the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corp. and Upstate California at the Yuba County Government Center produced results, said Brynda Stranix, president of the Yuba-Sutter development corporation.

People attending the event made 13 onsite deals and 99 new business connections, Stranix said.

Sabrina Boggs, store manager at the Farmer’s Marketplace in Marysville on Covillaud Street, welcomes the event and the opportunity it provides to meet growers.

“This is a big advantage,” she said. “This is huge.”

Thomas Rice, owner of Rice River Ranch in Arboga which grows peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and prunes, spoke with Boggs during one of the sessions and said the program benefits agriculture by bringing motivated buyers and sellers together.

Jim Muck of Jim’s Produce in Wheatland said he learned during the sessions what buyers want.

“The challenge now is to make sure I can grow what they want,” he said, “at a price I can make a profit.”

Eve Stefani of Filaki Farms, an organic family farm in Oregon House, found the sessions productive.

“I feel like we’re making some connections,” she said.

The sessions sometimes bring together people who have done business before, but hadn’t had the chance to meet in person, said Desta Bechtol, office manager for Wil-Ker-Son Ranch in Gridley.

“It’s nice to put a face with a label,” she said.

John Fleming, economic development coordinator for Yuba County, said Ag Speed Dating compresses sales efforts that can involve stopping by businesses to talk with buyers. “This is the quickest and easiest method,” he said.

Lucero said at the event’s start that the desire for productive get-togethers helped spur speed dating. She had been to enough ag-related meetings that she thought more could come out of them.

“I’m kind of tired of (those) meetings,” she recalled concluding. “Can we do something when we meet?”

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