I have been working with Local Foods for over three years now. I take every chance I can to engage consumers, support producers, and collaborate with leaders to build a local foods economy in North Dakota. It is something I believe in. By growing local food, we build community. We develop relationships. We teach our children. We appreciate the moment. We look toward the future.
I cherish the opportunity to grow my own vegetables.
I love being able to sell jams and jellies.
I am proud to raise chickens and ducks in my backyard.
My food choices don’t stop there.
I know I cannot do it all on my own. I purchase produce at the farmers market. I get milk through a cow share and then I buy extra cream at the store.
I regularly shop at the grocery store. And at least once a month I go to a large supermarket… I might even go to Wal-Mart.
I dine-out on occasion.
As independent as I try to be, I know I am connected to many kinds of agriculture.
I nurture that connection each time I eat.
My food choices create a demand for locally produced food. It would be great to see more Farmers Markets. I want to see more of it on the grocery store shelf. I would love to know more of it reaches the plates of children in schools or patients in hospitals.
I know I am not alone. The demand for REAL food is growing.
And so is the supply. Local food producers are busy right now, working on their small business plans for 2014.
They consider installing another greenhouse for season extension. They research seed varieties. They explore market opportunities. They might consider selling shares through community support agriculture (CSA). They might be thinking about ways to connect with nearby schools or institutions. Local food producers are trying to meet demand.
But, there is a gap. Why is it so difficult for consumers to access local food?
This isn’t necessarily a problem of supply and demand. It is an issue of logistics.
These logistics include how products are prepared, packaged, and distributed to the consumers.
This short video does a great job of explaining how we can overcome barriers in logistics.
But how could a food hub like Red Tomato work in North Dakota? How could producers benefit from aggregating their products and to be distributed on a larger scale? Could we really get our locally produced foods into schools, restaurants, and grocery stores?
Well, there are some who are giving thought to this dilemma.
FARRMS and Common Enterprise Development Corporation (CEDC) are working together on a producer/farmer survey exploring the feasibility of light processing, food hubs, farmer alliances or similar tools to increase the amount of fresh produce grown and eaten locally.
The executive director of FARRMS released this press release last week requesting input from small farmers and producers in North Dakota.
North Dakota farmers and growers sought for FARRMS Survey
Feasibility study being conducted to determine next steps in scaling up local in North Dakota
By Sue B. Balcom, FARRMS
If you are a farmer or are considering diversifying your farm or may be launching a new farm business, we can help you grow. FARRMS and Common Enterprise Development Corporation (CEDC) are working together on a producer/farmer survey exploring the feasibility of light processing, food hubs, farmer alliances or similar tools to increase the amount of fresh produce grown and eaten locally. Planning includes an economic development summit in early 2015 to discuss potential projects with economic developers.
We are seeking people who would like to become a vegetable farmer, increase farm enterprises or diversify their farm to include new and innovative businesses to complete the short survey. This data will reveal the potential economic impact of enhanced light processing, aggregation and distribution of local food in North Dakota. It will help define current opportunities, challenges and barriers in local food production and distribution, as well as determine producer interest in scaling up business strategies to meet the demand for local foods. Business planning will be made available to any farmer interested in the project after the survey closes.
An invitation has been sent to existing farmers in the state, however all farmers are encouraged to complete the survey at www.farrms.org even if they did not receive a personal invitation. This information is vital to scaling up local economies in our rural communities, in particular the western and northern areas of the state. The Summit on Local Economies (SOLE) is being planned for early 2015 and will reveal plans for next steps in scaling up local in North Dakota. Many other opportunities become available to farm enterprises through FARRMS and its partners ongoing work building local food systems.
Please help your farmers grow with FARRMS and its partners. If you have any questions, or would like more information please contact Sue B. Balcom at 701-527-5169 or 486-3569 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can grow farmers. FARRMS is a nonprofit working with farmers located in Medina, ND.
So what do you think? Can we grow local food in North Dakota?
If you are a farmer or producer, please take just a few minutes to take the survey. Let FARRMS know your needs. Share your challenges and successes and help determine how we can best scale up local foods.