Thursday, February 4, 2010

Upcoming Webinar to Discuss Innovative Strategies for Building Agricultural Value Chains

Demand for organic and sustainably produced food has been growing rapidly for nearly two decades. In the past several years there has been a comparable surge in demand for locally or regionally produced food. For many regions of the country, however, building a supply to meet that growing demand has proven to be very challenging. In response, a number of innovative organizations and businesses have launched or expanded “value chains” to increase the supply and availability of healthy, sustainably produced foods in their region.

In this webinar, National Good Food Network (NGFN)Advisory Council member Anthony Flaccavento will share the results of a survey of these innovative value chain organizations,highlighting common challenges and strategies employed, as well as unique approaches some have developed. A sampling of the experiences of nearly two dozen groups, in Appalachia, the Northeast, the Midwest and other regions will be offered in the form of short case studies, and a recently completed Toolkit for building value chains will be briefly described. There will be approximately 35 – 40 minutes of presentations, followed by 20 – 25 minutes of Q & A through the webinar.

The National Good Food Network and the Central Appalachian Network are co-sponsoring this webinar with support from the Ford Foundation’s Institute for International Education. Rural Action is a founding meber of the Central Appalachian Network, along with our partner Acenet.

The National Good Food Network Webinar will take place Feb 11, 1:00-2:00pm ET. Learn more at Click here to Register

This Webinar will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in our regional food system!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Foodshed meeting with Rural Action, the Wilds and Ohio University

On Jan. 20, Rural Action met with representatives from the Wilds and Ohio University to discuss issues and ideas concerning our foodshed. Attending were; Robert A McBurney, COO the Wilds, Todd Crow, Executive Chef and Food Service Coordinator, Bobbie Dozer, Director of Visitor Operations, Shana Byrd, Restoration Ecology Program Coordinator, the Wilds, Matt Rapposelli, Executive Chef, Ohio University, and Bob Fedyski, Rural Action Sustainable Ag., Local/Institutional Foods.

After introductions and asides, we began with Matt describing some of the benefits and adjustments that have occurred since beginning to work with the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA). Largely, the benefits are, through aggregation, a source of local food that could actually make a difference at Ohio U., fresher, more flavorful food, an opportunity to support the community, and, through the new relationships forged with the CPA, to work with the growers to increase their plantings to meet (or better meet) Ohio U.’s needs. Matt went on to say that they would deal even more with the CPA when, they can meet the demand.

Robert McBurney is very happy to work with RA, and is looking forward to creating a five-star experience through the Wilds that includes the best in locally sourced foods . He sees the parallels in our organizations, and feels using the fresh, local product is an opportunity to educate others to the benefits. He also sees it as a means to educate their camps on these same benefits, and possibly hold educational workshops with a focus on wellness through diet.

He continued that the Wilds currently is seeing 75,000 visitors per year, and with the coming introduction of their five-star camp, he wants to offer the best of local (foods and beverages [the Wilds enjoys a liquor license that covers their whole 10,000+ acres]), from the common too the exotic. Shana introduced the Shade Winery into the conversation, which expanded into a discussion about the Pawpaw beer, local distillery, and related products. This may turn into a great opportunities for Integration Acres, Shade Winery, and Kelly Sauber (Formerly with Marietta Brewery). The Wilds has a Pawpaw orchard, and is also very interested in the various cheeses now being produced by Integration Acres, as well as pawpaw and walnut products. When we told them about the Snowville Creamery, they are interested in utilizing their product (if feasible) and certainly bring Warren Taylor up to do a demonstration.

When the conversation turned to delivery, we began discussing options. At first we thought the Wilds might be able to inspire additional sales nearby, but they are pretty lonely where they are. When they learned that we have a truck, they offered to work something out to provide fuel (they make their own biodiesel) and service through their maintenance shop. They also offered to help us with food service connections at Zane State and more.

Having a strong working history with Hocking College, they (the Wilds) were interested to learn of the new culinary program (institutional), and in possibly acquiring interns through the program. I think it could be a great opportunity for young culinary students, and would also help educate them (interns) with the use of local, fresh products.

Matt had to leave for another meeting, so we talked for a short while after, then adjourned for a taste of Athens, at Casa Nueva. Todd, Robert, and Bobbie were very impressed with the history of ACEnet, the offshoot of Casa, and the conversation turned to processing food for in-house use. The use of ACEnet, and the HAPcap facility in Logan were discussed offering benefits for each. We also discussed the opportunity to be a part of agri-tours and the possibility to learn more about Fur Peace Ranch and tours linking them.

Take action to exempt organic farms from the Ohio Livestock Board

The following is a statement from Food & Water Watch. It does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Rural Action Sustainable Agriculture or We welcome any differing opinions.

Tom Redfern, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, Rural Action
Bob Fedyski, Sustainable Agriculture, Local/Institutional Foods

"We need 200 comments by 9:30am Wednesday!

Take action to exempt organic farms from the Ohio Livestock Board Rulings

Don't Let Bureaucracy Sink Ohio's Organic Farms!

Help Protect Organic Farms in Ohio.

Last November, Ohio passed Issue 2 to create a new livestock board. With your help, we fought against this initiative because of concerns that the board would favor corporate agribusiness over smaller, sustainable farmers. We're still worried that this board will cause all kinds of problems, but right now we have a huge opportunity to protect Ohio's organic farmers from the livestock board. Can you contact your state legislators?

Legislators are planning on putting the costs of this unnecessary board back on Ohio farmers by placing a tax on feed for animals. This could be tough for all farmers in these economic times, but we're especially concerned about organic producers. Certified organic producers already face tough standards from the USDA and have to pay for their organic certification. Can you ask your state legislator to exempt organic farms from the board's rules and added fees?

Organic is part of the solution, and these farmers shouldn't be forced to pay for an unelected board that is likely to benefit factory farms.
Please contact your legislators today, and ask them to exempt organic farmers from the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board."

Thanks for taking action,

Alex, Sarah, Noelle and the Food Team
Food & Water Watch

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