Jul 17, 2011

Our Local Food Chapters Spark Production and Marketing Networks

The Our Local Food Program, introduced in the March Rural Papers, is off to a running start with 95 members across the three regional chapters located around Wichita, Emporia and the Kaw River Valley.

This program, funded by a Specialty Crop Grant through the Kansas Department of Agriculture, seeks to spur the development of community-based food systems by creating regional networks of local farms, farmers markets, food businesses, agricultural professionals, supportive organizations and businesses, as well as consumers who are committed to increasing the production and sales of fresh, local foods in Kansas.

Recent program developments include the label revision, blog launches and the hiring of Julie Mettenburg as the Kaw River Valley Chapter Coordinator. Consumers are also beginning to spot the Our Local Food banners displayed in members' stalls at farmers markets and at farm stands and U-Pick farms. Business members will begin displaying Our Local Food point-of-sale materials in July.

Eat Local Challenges will also be held in each region. The South Central Chapter hosted its challenge over the Fourth of July week with a kick-off party at the Kansas Grown Farmers Market. Consumers were encouraged to purchase products from Our Local Food members and submit recipes and pictures of their local food experience on Facebook, Twitter, or through email. Those participating in the challenge were entered into a drawing to win some fun local food prizes. Recipes collected during the event will be compiled into an Our Local Food - South Central eBook that will be available free to anyone who signs up to receive the chapter's e-newsletter.

In May, KRC submitted another Specialty Crop Block Grant application to expand the program with a fourth chapter representing the East Central and Southeast regions of Kansas. If funded, the grant would also increase the level of services available to members including consultations with farm and business members to better gauge supply and demand for Kansas-grown fruits and vegetables.

Those interested in joining in the Our Local Food Program are encouraged to contact the chapter coordinator for their region. Membership information and applications are also available on chapter blogs.

To learn more about Our Local Food and to find your chapter, visit http://www.ourlocalfoodks.org/.

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