Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012 Local Food Victories of the Future

DOWNLOAD Mini-Grant Application

Description: Local Food Victories of the Future are action steps individuals are taking toward a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system in our region of Southeast Michigan.  If you have an idea, at least one other person to work with, and if you meet the criteria outlined below, you are eligible to apply.  Deadline for submission is September 1, 2012.

Mini-grant awards will be confirmed by  September 5th and announced publicly at the HomeGrown Festival on September 8, 2012.  We expect each mini-grant applicant to request up to $500, but we will be flexible depending on the quality of the application and the number of applications received.

Criteria that the Grant Committee will use to make decisions:
      Have the requirements for documentation and deadline been met?
·         What is the potential to strengthen a sustainable food system in our region?
·         What is the ability of this project to expand the movement to reach a broad and diverse mainstream audience?

Checklist for inclusion:
__________Goal, plan, and timeline for reaching your goal.
__________Budget request. How much are you requesting, what is it for and how will it contribute to your goal?
__________Meeting notes from 3 meetings with your group’s stakeholders.  Please include: Date, agenda, who was present, action items.

Expectations: If you are awarded a mini-grant, we will ask for a progress update by email in November and in February.  We also ask that you plan to make a presentation on the status or outcome at the 2013 Local Food Summit. 
Please use this form, or create your own document, with the requested information. Deadline for submission is September 5, 2012.
Slow Food Huron Valley - Local Food Victories of the Future
P.O. Box 7237, Ann Arbor, MI 48107
Good luck and thank you for taking steps to create the world as it should be!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Participate in Local Food Victories of the Future

On April 2, 2012 the 4th annual HomeGrown Local Food Summit brought together some 300 food system stakeholders for a day-long conference at Washtenaw Community College to think about a good food future here in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

One of the most popular parts of the Summit program this year was the "Local Food Victories of the Future." During this segment that combined the Gong Show with speed dating, 18 people were motivated enough to stand on the auditorium stage to give 1-minute pitches to form working groups for the change we want to happen in our food system over the next year.

Summit organizers are offering $500 mini-grants to "task force" groups that have enough momentum to meet at least 3 times, put together a realistic plan for how to make their goal happen, and report out at next year's Summit. The application for these mini-grants will be available soon at:

Everyone who wants positive change in the food system is invited to participate in these Local Food Victories of the Future:

Slow Money in Michigan (learning how to invest as if food, farms, and fertility matter)
Description:Among the first tasks in setting up a Slow Money Chapter are researching, consolidating, and making available in plain English the governing laws of Michigan pertinent to the formation of investment clubs using Slow Money principles. The initial phase is intended to be short, with clear and attainable results. Once this goal has been met, other goals may involve making presentations to interested groups, establishing relationships with existing organizations that assist small businesses, coordinating exchange of information between Slow Money investor clubs of Michigan, and interacting with Slow Money National.
Contact: M. Salomon Jost:
Next meeting: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 at 5:30
Location: TBD - in Greater Ann Arbor
Protecting the right to raise heritage hogs in Michigan
Description: On April 1, 2012 the Michigan DNR invoked the Invasive Species Order (ISO) to prohibit certain types of pigs, which the Michigan Pork Producers group claims is necessary combat feral hogs (which I understand can already be shot on sight). The DNR's Declaratory Ruling describes prohibited pigs based on their physical characteristics, rather than whether or not they are under the supervision and care of a farmer. As a result, this order threatens farmers who are raising heritage pigs who have the described characteristics. Physical attributes evaluated include: bristle-tip coloration, dark "point" coloration, coat coloration, underfur, tail structure, and ear structure. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund says "swine which are identified by such ubiquitous characteristics that most any swine, especially heritage breeds raised on family farms, are unjustly threatened with eradication." As a result of this order, DNR inspectors have the authority to come onto private property and destroy privately owned pigs meeting their description. This working group will engage citizens and lawmakers to repeal this ruling and to protect the rights of property owners and farmers.
Creating Affordable Healthcare for Farmers
Description: One of the assets most important to a farmer is his or her health. We aim to make healthcare affordable and relevant to young and to established farmers through a cooperative healthcare system featuring a clinic, or wellness home, tailored to fit the needs and desires of the cooperative. We are looking at options for incorporating alternative and holistic approaches along with traditional group insurance.
Contact:Gary Mazzeo
Next meeting: Tentative meeting date: June 1, 2012
Farm for Food Gatherers with the Mindful Eating Coalition
Description: We're trying to help save a source of 1200 pounds of fresh produce that Food Gatherers relies on annually. The farmer who owns the property has health issues and needs assistance with all phases, from prep work to planting, tending, watering and harvesting. The Mindful Eating Coalition is gearing up to work the garden, located on Maple Rd. between Ann Arbor-Saline and Ellsworth, but we're understaffed, and could use some expertise.
Contact: Colleen Crawley
Next meeting: Sunday, May 27, 9am-3:30pm
Starting up the co-farming model of farmland development
Description: Co-farming will become a cost effective way of generating dozens of new farms in and around Washtenaw County. The model builds off of existing programs such as development easements and co-housing projects. Farmers will be able to buy homes that are clustered together in farm communities allowing efficiency and cooperative possibility. And more fun! The group seeks a team leader to coordinate next steps. About a dozen individuals with expertise in land preservation, architecture, farming, finance, law and organizational development have expressed interest in this project.
Contact: Jeff McCabe OR 734.845.0079
Next meeting: TBD
UM Sustainable Food Program and Campus Farm
Description: We are in the process of developing a U of M Sustainable Food Program that will house all local/sustainable food initiatives on campus. One of those initiatives is the implementation of a campus farm, for which we have all start-up costs ($42,000), but we cannot access this money until we secure funding for a full-time farm manager. The mission of the farm is to educate (formally and informally), to build community (through events and working a physical space together), and to produce food (for dining halls, unions, and students primarily). We hope to reach beyond disciplinary, faculty/staff/student, and University/community boundaries with this project.
Contact: Lindsey MacDonald
Next meeting: Stay tuned.
Health Insurance Wellness Rebates for Participation in a CSA
Description: In Wisconsin, four insurance companies have partnered with the Fairshare CSA Coalition to give $100 "wellness" rebates to insured members toward their fruit and vegetable CSA shares. As a result, the Coalition has seen CSA shares sold increase from 275 to more than 9000. In addition, the CSA Coalition offers "Partner Shares" - subsidized CSA shares for low-income members. This task force is researching how to bring a similar program to Michigan, to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables we consume, to improve our health and provide healthy food access, support local farmers, and stimulate economic and environmental benefits.
Contact: Kim Bayer
Next meeting: Thursday, May 3 from 5:00-7:00pm
Rap For Food
Description: To create a support network between the local music and local food communities in order to run and support events that promote localization, sustainable food systems, or youth gardening. This includes creating a musical program that promotes community gardening at the elementary, intermediate, and high school levels.
Contact: Lucas DiGia
Mass Meeting: Monday, May 14th at 7:00pm (location TBD)
Maker Machines (new working title is EduShed A2)
Description: We aim to serve as catalyst for the shift of small manufacturing enterprises into community enabling economies. We’ll partner with other maker and educational institutions to achieve a culture of craftsmanship, innovation, authenticity and mentorship. This maker culture will educate and uplift individuals and communities by designing, optimizing, building and selling high quality DIY machines and tools that enable sustainable communities.
Contact: Adam Jurevicius
Sign up for email updates:
We're selecting a date and time for our first meeting:
WCC Farm Management Degree Proposal
At Washtenaw Community College, a team of faculty, staff and administrators has been looking into the development of a small farm management degree program. In order to move forward the team needs to present a proposal to the Board of Trustees. To aid in the development of a robust program they would like input from the food and farming community.
This survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. As you complete the survey please keep in mind these assumptions regarding this program:
  • There is a need for training and education in small-scale farming in SE Michigan.
  • Training and education must have a distinct focus on business development.
  • Training and education will focus on organic growing practices.
  • Emphasis is on small-scale diversified crops, including season extension.
  • The program will include an option of a one-year certificate that can become an Associate Degree (2-year) if added to general education requirements.
  • A 1- or 2-year program cannot teach everything there is to know about farming or growing. The program will provide a foundation and a plan for acquiring additional knowledge.
  • Potential job areas include: assistant farm manager, farm manager, institutional farm manager, starting own farm.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Post: Conclusion

A fond farewell...

...until next year. The Summit is nearing its end, and it's time for me to wrap up this party.

This has been a really great, positive experience. I had a lot of fun learning about local foods and my role as a foodshed stakeholder. Hopefully anyone that wasn't able to make it this year will give some thought into attending the 5th Annual Local Food Summit. There has clearly been progress toward healthier, economic, community-driven food, and an eye toward what can be done in the future, as well. This community has its goals in sight and plenty of strength to reach it.

For my part, the theme of past, present, and future victories was incredibly relevant to my experience as a newcomer. It was like a recap of everything that has been done to this point, but with a hook to keep me coming back for more. I want these individuals and organizations to succeed in what they're doing. If they do, I can honestly say that the benefit will equal more than the sum of its parts.

I want to give a shout out and thank Kim Bayer and Monica Patel for being my team's contacts for this project, as well as the Local Food Summit for the privilege to attend. Good luck to the organizations at the Summit, and here's to a great new year! (See you at the Corner Brewery) Cheers!

Guest Post: Scaling Up Local Food Access

Challenges and Benefits

I really enjoyed this session. It was led by Randy Burns, Senior Buyer for the Patient Food and Nutrition Services at the University of Michigan Health System, and Jon and Karlene Goetz, owners of Goetz Greenhouse LLC. Together they talked about the hurdles and red tape that both the buyers and sellers of local food have to go through. It was surprising to hear how difficult it is to get these two important parties to be able to communicate and accept business transactions. Mr. Goetz brought up some of the rules and regulations that are easier said than done, or sometimes counter-productive. He explained that he has little choice but to comply because institutional buyers, such as Mr. Burns, are by law required to purchase food from certified sources. Some other problems were logistical in nature; loading docks aren't staffed early enough for morning delivery, deliveries can be too far away to make economic sense, or equipment may not function perfectly and cause delays.

Scheduling is also important for both groups. Buyers need to know how much things cost at what time and sellers need to know how much product is needed and when to deliver. Good communication is essential, they emphasized. Each group must make sure they're talking to the right people in charge when making important decisions like these. Good record keeping helps prevent these problems. Sellers need to track how much they are owed and that their contact information is updated frequently. Buyers can track how much they need on a given day and plan accordingly, preferably a year in advance for some produced goods.

Overall, the session was a great discussion on good business practices in inventory management and planning, but also tremendously valuable in illuminating some of the practical realities of acquiring local foods. The nitty-gritty details that put a focus on communication between community members really made me think about the difficulties of expanding local foods and their benefits to the public at large institutions; however, it hasn't stopped progress, and steps are still being taken to increase local food exposure. It was a pleasantly optimistic session with a healthy dose of real problems and solutions far from wispy ideals.

Guest Post: Lunch Break

The story so far

There's some time before the breakout sessions start, but I just wanted to make a quick word about my first impressions of the Summit.

This has to be, without a doubt, one of the best community organizations I've taken part in, and I'm not just saying that because I don't take part in very many. The impact on southeast Michigan are the results of the things that are being done, that have been done here. It's growing all the time and I hope to support more of the same in the future.

Lunch was also fantastic, by the way. Kudos to the volunteers, donors, and chefs for putting on such great meals today!

Guest Post: Local Food Victories Continued

We now return to our regularly scheduled program

After a quick cup of Joe, we're back. Local food victories of the present include several organizations categorized into victory groups, all of which are "working toward goals larger than themselves" according to the speaker. These include improving health, building the economy, creating community, and imagining the future.

These organizations all share the drive to bring locally grown foods and food products to local markets in economically and environmentally sustainable ways. From the sheer number of participating organizations' successes, I'd say these victories were well worth the time and effort these businesses and volunteers have put in.

Several pitches were made to the audience as part of the search for local food victories of the future. They had one minute to tell us about their plans for making a business or organizing a program. If I could say one thing about them, it would be that their forward-thinking ideas are, for the most part, brilliantly small in scale and tightly bound to the community. Not only does that make most of their ideas possible, it also makes the rewards that much more pronounced and effective within the community. They all shared a theme of bringing some value to the public at large, starting locally, and resulting in health, economic, community, and future victories.

I'll be back to cover the breakout session titled "Scaling Up Local Food Access" after lunch around 1pm.

Guest Post: Local Food Victories, Past, Present, and Future

And so it begins...

The Summit is off to a rousing start! We're currently convened in the Towsley Auditorium after a delicious breakfast of coffee, tea, and burrito selections. The theme this year is Local Food Victories, and the opening speech really drove home the importance of those victories by calling out the various stakeholders that benefit from them, namely everyone who eats. There is a sense of community in the room between the growers and consumers, teachers and students, professionals and processors. It's a diverse crowd that shares one important thing in common: a share in the local foodshed.

Following the opening note, Jan Longone delivered a few words as curator of the Culinary Archive in the Clements Library at the University of Michigan, then Larry Massie gave a presentation about Michigan's culinary history starting in the early 19th century. Far from being a classroom lecture, Mr. Massie's talk was very entertaining and informative. Not only did he talk about the things Michigan has been historically famous for, like the fur trade, but also some things we should be less proud of, including the hunting extinction of the passenger pigeon and the grayling fish. Mr. Massie continued through history and brought up the celery boom of Kalamazoo, the cereal boom of Battle Creek, and then ended on a note about Michigan's future.

Water, according to Mr. Massie, is Michigan's future. Our state has the greatest supply of freshwater in the nation thanks to the Great Lakes, and Lake Superior in particular. It is our responsibility and our obligation to protect that water from people, governments, and corporations that want to siphon it, pollute it, and otherwise waste our resources without paying anything back to us or the environment.

On that note, we're moving into a short break before heading into local food victories of the present. A great start to a great Summit!