PHSACF’s Good Food Initiative aims to increase the viability of local agriculture in order to increase the likelihood that farming will remain an integral and valuable part of our community and quality of life. The Initiative has four goals:
- Help farmers/livestock producers keep their land in farming
- Boost the economy through expanded production and purchase of local food and food products
- Improve access by those in need to nutritious foods from local sources
- Increase community appreciation for local food and farming
Among the objectives of the Initiative are to encourage buyers, including institutional purchasers, to give priority to local food sources whenever possible, and to support more opportunities for students and those in need to eat fresh, local foods.
The Community Foundation, in partnership with the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, is pleased to announce the recent hiring of Jennifer Schaap, as the local food and farming coordinator.
At a Community Foundation-sponsored convening for ‘Good Food Advisors’ in May 2013, notably, funding a staff person to coordinate efforts was determined as the most important action that could be taken to strengthen the local food system.
Jen Schaap is employed by Groundwork Center, which is headquartered in Traverse City, but is working out of Petoskey. Her official title is local food policy specialist and her work will include support for farm to school and food access projects as well as the expansion of markets for farms and food businesses.
The lead commitment by the Community Foundation of $75,000 over three years was just part of the equation. A collaborative, community-based effort was initiated by Groundwork Center and the Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan to help raise the estimated $300,000 needed to support the coordinator position in the initial three years.
Since 2010, the Community Foundation has been actively supporting local food and farming activities in partnership with nonprofit organizations, such as Farm to Frame photography contest with Crooked Tree Arts Center, Small Farm Guilds to grow a network among farmers with ISLAND, and Farm-to-Senior to bring local produce to the Friendship Centers of Emmet County. (See Good Food Initiative Grants for more details.)
Friendship Centers of Emmet County
Since 2011, the Community Foundation has been supporting the Friendship Centers of Emmet County’s (FCEC) efforts to make fresh food available for seniors. Over $10,000 has been granted to support their Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition program providing seniors with discounts at local farmers markets.
In 2014, we partnered with the FCEC to pilot an effort to include locally-sourced foods in their meal programs. The pilot project was to be carried out with FCEC and one or more local farmers to examine whether we currently have the conditions necessary for a farm-to-institution program to succeed. The Community Foundation provided $7,500 as part of our strategic initiative to fund a consultant with experience in community food systems to work with FCEC to identify specific locally-sourced foods that could be included in their meal programs, to identify the interest and ability of area farmers to supply locally-grown products that meet FCEC’s needs, and, if feasible, to work closely with FCEC and one or more farmers to set up a pilot partnership.
The pilot was successful and the consultant has been working with FCEC, several local farmers, and others to help implement the pilot and document the results and lessons learned.
Farm and Food Portrait
In the fall of 2012, the Community Foundation granted $6,200 to support a research effort to learn how local farmland is used, how products are grown or raised, which markets are connected to local foods, what structures are in place and what resources are needed to strengthen our local farming community. The Portrait presents a picture told in numbers, stories, and photographs. The effort exceeded expectations in growing the network – over 250 individuals were contacted and 65 contributed to the research. In November 2013, NCMC hosted Around the Table: a Food and Farming Roundtable featuring farmers, chefs, school food workers, health care professionals, institutional representatives, and ‘foodies’ to brainstorm ways to strengthen our local food and farm economy and make local healthy foods available to all. Attendance at the event exceeded expectations with 75 individuals participating in a worthwhile conversation.
From Farm to Frame: Good Food, Good Neighbors
The Community Foundation, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design (ISLAND) partnered to put on a juried photo contest and exhibition, From Farm to Frame. In its second year, the 2013 Farm to Frame Photo Contest brought the community together around regional food and farming. Community members submitted photographs for the contest, the local business community matched the Community Foundation’s grant funding in sponsorships and awards, and the exhibit was displayed at Crooked Tree Arts Center including a reception in October which over 100 people attended. This was an anchor event in “Local Food and Farming Month”. In the second year of this effort, there were expanded activities in Charlevoix County. The cover of the publication Edible Grand Traverse featured a youth award winner!
Farms and Farmers Markets Map
In 2012, we partnered with Michigan Land Use Institute as well as McLaren Northern Michigan to create a graphic map of area farms and farmers markets, focusing just on Emmet County. After learning from the experience with the map project, MLUI shifted the format of Taste the Local Difference from a comprehensive food guide to a more regional map! In 2013, a $5,000 grant further promoted the Taste the Local Difference in Emmet County, including the following activities: Updated TLD’s logo and branding to function in a retail setting; Reformatted the TLD Food and Farming Guide into county maps; Created TLD smartphone apps for iOS and Android devices; Hired a Petoskey-based TLD service representative; Provided new opportunities to Emmet County farmers through connections to other TLD partners including the Northwest Michigan Food & Farming Network; and regular TLD visits with farmers, retailers, and economic developers in Emmet County.