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.

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