The Twin Rivers Chapter (OLF-TR), under the coordination of Tracey Graham, covers Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Lyon, Morris, and Osage counties. Building on the significant groundwork laid by the Emporia Area Local Food Network, such as the development of a community kitchen, the OLF-Twin River Chapter will expand to include broad representation from all aspects of its regional food system.
The chapter model was selected over a single statewide program because it is better able to address the opportunities and challenges of individual regions while fostering important community relationships.
Regional chapters are semi-autonomous but operate under OLF organizational structure which calls for each chapter to establish its own coordinator, steering and partner committees, and summer interns. Chapters will collaborate on overall Our Local Food Program efforts through the leadership of OLF Program Director Mercedes Taylor-Puckett.
The Our Local Food Program label will be modified to reflect the name of each region. The label can be used by members to identify and promote food grown in that region. For example, a farmer can print out cards with the chapter label that can be used as product price cards at farmers markets on those items that have been raised in that region. Program stickers could also be placed on products like pies or jelly, if the primary ingredient was grown in the region. A restaurant could use the label for a menu item when it designates the farm from which the primary ingredient was sourced. Regional OLF label shelf tags will enable retailers to highlight products from the area. This eye-catching label will assist consumers by providing a definition of local–within that region, making it easy to select choices that support local ag producers and the their regional economy.
The OLF website, launching in mid-May, will have information targeted to consumers, producers, food businesses and other groups such as economic development professionals. There will also be sections devoted to each chapter that offer a directory of farms, CSAs and farmers markets as well as food businesses that use or sell foods raised in each region. Chapter coordinators will also reach out to members and consumers through bi-weekly enewsletters to keep them up to date on events and opportunities, highlight seasonal products and profile members.
With assistance from KSU’s Dr. Rhonda Janke, chapters will develop preliminary food system reports this spring. (Visit KRC’s website to download Dr. Janke’s presentation from the November sustainable ag conference that covers the preliminary work on the food report she is creating for the Douglas County Food Policy Council: http://www.kansasruralcenter.org/publications.html#CCC ) Coordinators will collect information on current agricultural production, processing and distribution capacity and gather statistics on what might be required to meet a portion of a region’s current consumption of various foods. The reports will also attempt to present a snapshot of the various channels local food currently moves through in each regional food system.
- Placement of farm name and profile on the OLF website;
- Identification of sales opportunities with OLF markets, restaurants, and institutions who are committed to buying local;
- Highlighting of farm events and activities in a bimonthly OLF chapter enewsletter that will be sent to interested consumers;
- Feature stories about specific farms for the bimonthly OLF enewsletter;
- Opportunities for farms to directly interact with consumers;
- TV, radio, internet, and print media about OLF and its members.
- Placement of business name and profile on the OLF website;
- Identification of OLF farmers who are interested in providing businesses with local food and specialty crops;
- Ways to highlight the presence of local foods and specialty crops on your shelves or in your menus;
- Feature stories about specific businesses for the bimonthly OLF-KRV enewsletter;
- Updates on business events and activities in the bimonthly OLF-KRV newsletter;
- Design of opportunities for businesses to directly interact with both farms and consumers.
Tracey also enjoys her part time position as Program Assistant for the Lyon County K-State Research and Extension Family Nutrition Program, teaching elementary school students about the benefits of healthy diets. She is also an active volunteer with Emporia Main Street and Lyon County Extension Master Gardeners.