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The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass was unveiled by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan via a live webinar on February 29, 2012. A paramount objective of Deputy Secretary Merrigan is to encourage a national conversation of how to improve food systems and recognize the resources that are available for this purpose.
Because of the presence of synergistic objectives, National Food MarketMaker1 and AgMRC have joined forces to expand the reach of the Compass’ goals relative to stimulating a national conversation about local and regional foods. This concept has manifested itself in exciting new ways.
“The “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Compass has additionally become a “knowledge concept” that is instrumental in creating an economic, cultural and research‐oriented human interest story as real and as vivid as HDTV”, explains DC MarketMaker™ Principal Investigator and Research Associate, Dr. Calvin Lewis of the Center for Sustainable Development at the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at University of the District of Columbia.
The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, through its Center of Sustainable Development and Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health has embarked on a program to help reduce the issues relating to obesity. The “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Compass and the MarketMaker™ technology are strategic to enable this implementation.
To Read More go here: National MarketMaker and USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Compass
The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass is a new online resource about USDA’s support of local and regional food. The Compass is an online multi-media narrative with stories, pictures and video about USDA’s support for local and regional food systems and an interactive map of USDA-supported local and regional food activities in all 50 states. With the Compass, you can:
- LEARN about USDA resources to develop local and regional food enterprises – from seasonal high tunnels that extend the growing season, to technical assistance for beginning and experienced producers, to support for marketing, processing, distribution and retail infrastructure.
- SEE case studies and photos of successful producers and projects from around the country.
- NAVIGATE the interactive KYF Compass Map, which shows the location and focus of many USDA-supported local and regional food projects.
- WATCH videos documenting how others are building strong local and regional food businesses, expanding local food production on their farms and ranches, and making change in their communities.
- JOIN the national conversation. If you’re a customer, meet a farmer. If you’re a farmer, talk to your customers. Continue the conversation in your neighborhood, town and community about what local foods mean to you.
The KYF Compass is a result of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative. Launched in 2009, the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative has been working with the USDA’s 17 agencies to coordinate USDA’s work and investments in local and regional food system. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass now allows you to easily navigate the stories of USDA’s work in local and regional food systems, and will spur ideas for how to build stronger local and regional food opportunities in your community.
Alice Wootton serves as the volunteer Market Master for Orange County HomeGrown, whose mission is to “promote the small-town neighborly values, the natural forests, the cultural and recreational opportunities, and the healthy family farms that make Orange County, Indiana, an attractive place to live, work, play, raise a family, start a business, or retire.”
Alice knows that their two markets improve the quality of life for residents and also have a huge economic impact for local farmers. “We estimate that the 24 week market season is filling the pockets of our vendors with about $150,000, a lot of money for our citizens. Our county perennially sits in the top three positions of underserved counties in the state,” said Alice.
Content courtesy of Rural Community Building.
On April 27, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, (an agency within the Executive Office of the President charged with “offering the President objective economic advice on the formulation of both domestic and international economic policy”), posted a blog report from their office called Strengthening the Rural Economy.
The executive summary says: “Rural areas are home to about 50 million Americans and are an essential part of the overall economy. This report surveys the current state of rural America and describes the Obama Administration’s policies for strengthening the rural economy. Many of these policies are already being implemented through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But further work remains to ensure the prosperity and vitality of rural America.”
Read highlights of the report here.
Content courtesy of Rural Community Building.
FamilyFarmed.org will have a Financing Farm To Fork Conference on March 11, 2010. http://www.familyfarmedexpo.com/farmtofork.html This is definitely welcome news.
I think it really says something about the growth of local food that this event is taking place in Chicago—a serious food town. In 2004, Sandy Streed of the Illinois Food Safety Center and I organized an Illinois Farm to Fork Event at Joliet Junior College. It was fabulously educational and fun, but there sure weren’t any investment types there.Although, Marketmaker in the form of Dar Knipe was there and she did a wonderful job. It’s a huge credit to the local food movement and to the individual entrepreneurs and to familyfarmed that the money folks are showing up now. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.” Indeed. And when you put a market and money together with a marketmaker, it’s an even better thing…
I am busy working on The Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair because it’s coming up next Saturday Feb 6, 2010 www.chicagofarmers.org. This event is devoted to farmland investing and definitely has some sessions of interest for local and regional food people. I have to wonder, what farmland use in the Midwest would look like if the region really put some muscle behind local food production and distribution. I think the past is prologue here. One of the big clues is The Wagner Farm in Glenview. http://www.wagnerfarm.org/. The Wagner Farm now sits on about 19 acres of prime North shore Real Estate, and the farm has dairy cows there. Yes, you read that right, there really are Holsteins living in Glenview.. The Farm has been reincarnated as a living history museum. However, in its prime, in the 20s, the Farm was about a 100 acres. In the 20,s there were 5,000 of these kind of farms in Cook County, Illinois. Farms like the Wagner’s supplied much of Chicago’s milk and vegetables, and the Wagner’s really were true Chicago Farmers. They farmed near and for Chicago, and if local food is truly going to happen, the future may look like the past.
If the tie between new media/social media and local food and agriculture did not already exist, it would have to be invented. Just as farmers’ markets allow producers to sell to consumers without a brick and mortar grocery store, new media/social media channels allow people to create their own platforms to communicate directly through the internet with their own content. The vehicles are increasingly familiar: Blogs, YouTube, Podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, and Email Newsletters.
For local food producers, selling directly to consumers could be familiar territory. What’s new and exciting in this picture is that social media gives growers a platform to reach consumers directly and easily. Websites in the beginning were expensive and hard for non technical people to update; blogs on the other hand are cheap, fast and easy. Putting new content on websites required someone who knew html, but if you can send an email, you can put content on your blog. For example, I blog at www.schellacres.com. The blog allows me to reach readers without a magazine or newspaper and lets me post audio clips without an interview done at a radio station. Another example is the publication I wrote on selling food directly, A Legal Guide to Illinois Laws Governing Direct Farm Marketing. It used to be only available in print but, now it’s available as a pdf from a couple of sources including: http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/asse … market.pdf
In 2007, I posted a commentary about Chuck Zimmerman’s site Agwired (www.agwired.com) on my blog at www.schellacres.com. Chuck was one of the first people in agriculture who went into social media in a big way. He was a pioneer in using podcasting, videocasting and offering blogging services to the farm community.
When I talked with him we both focused on the book The Long Tail Why Selling More Of Less Is The Future by Chris Anderson. The book title refers to the small part of a bell curve distribution. This is the thin part at the furthest edges. The fat part of the curve is where 90 percent of the product usually is sold— as the book illustrates, think of buying CDs at Wal-Mart vs. Amazon. Wal-Mart stocks the top 10 CDs and counts on selling a lot of them. Amazon stocks almost every CD and sells less of a lot more categories. Amazon, of course, could not exist without the internet. The internet and their low cost storage facilities make it possible for Amazon to hold inventory until it is sold. The local food parallels are similar—a website/blog makes it possible to give the market the detail on how to buy local food—cheaply and relatively easily. This applies even if most of the food by volume still goes through supermarket channels.
But, the change is a lot more than just a way of getting the word out, the internet also allows local food providers to be able to build a community around their food. Facebook, Twitter, and email newsletters all can help local producers build a following. The good news is that local food purchasers seem to want to connect in virtual and real communities. These people like to get to know each other and their local food producers. For more info on social media and where it fits into farming, see my interview with Chuck Zimmerman at http://agwired.com/2009/12/30/chicago-f … ial-media/.
I was watching the network news last weekend and was surprised to learn that some folks can’t find pumpkins this year. I typically don’t worry about pumpkins until the week before Halloween and the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas so it truly was “news to me”. A quick search of the blogosphere confirmed the problem. For some weeks, consumers have had problems finding canned pumpkin in the stores and the pain has been felt all across the country. When the news media started reporting disruptions in the supply of fresh pumpkins the two events became the perfect storm that has created a pumpkin panic of sorts.
I decided to reach out to Bill Shoemaker, a colleague of mine and a Fruit and Vegetable Crops Specialist with the University of Illinois to get his expert perspective. The canned pumpkin shortage is the result of less than optimum growing seasons in previous years in parts of the country that supply a large portion of the nation’s pumpkins. That includes Illinois. The canned pumpkin problem, Bill says, should start to improve as more of this season’s crop is harvested. As for a shortage of fresh pumpkins that is a combination of regional shortages primarily in the Northeast and a late growing season in other parts of the country.
There is good news, however, for all of you who are worried that there will be no Jack o Lanterns for Halloween or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkins are grown in many shapes and varieties all over the country. Food MarketMaker provides information on over 1500 pumpkin growers across 13 states many of whom have product for sale right now. Check out the Buy Sell Forum on MarketMaker http://www.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/marketplace_home.php or simply do a search on MarketMaker for pumpkin growers in your area or around the country. Just click on any of the MarketMaker states to begin your search http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/
If canned pumpkin continues to be in short supply, be adventuresome and try pumpkin pie made from scratch. For those of you who think using canned pumpkin is making it from scratch, I am talking about buying a fresh pumpkin, baking it in the oven and making your own pumpkin pie filling. If you are several generations removed from any family member who has ever cooked fresh pumpkin, check out http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/selection.html. It walks you through the process from selection to preparation in pretty easy to follow steps. My thanks to Drusilla Banks with University of Illinois’ Nutrition and Wellness team for preparing that fact sheet.
Happy pumpkin hunting.
About a year and a half ago the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center began working with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and their Heritage Agriculture program, which has the goal of creating supply chain visibility between local and regional food sources supplying their stores. It was apparent that a tool would be necessary for buyers to locate and engage small- and medium-scale producers, we were thinking that some sort of internet-based platform would be the best way to go.
Imagine how delighted we were to find out that the necessary tool already existed, had a presence in several states with support of extension from land-grant universities and state departments of agriculture, and was free to all users! Large-scale buyers need a central location to find sources to supply their local food programs. Producers who might be interested in scaling up their marketing efforts need a user-friendly way to gain exposure to the new distribution opportunities we’re seeing with consumer interest in fresh, local and healthy foods.
The Applied Sustainability Center has launched a program we call Agile Agriculture to take advantage of the favorable conditions we are seeing for producers, distributors and consumers of agricultural products. Large, undifferentiated markets aren’t suitable for many small/medium scale producers, but with the right education and tools we see potentials for more of our smaller producers to supply these arenas and provide healthy, local and fresh products to consumers. MarketMaker is quickly gaining in importance as a tool to link producers and markets of all scales and we’re looking forward to watching this program develop.
One of the lesser known features on MarketMaker is some thing called What’s New in MarketMaker. It can be found on MarketMaker’s National Portal and it’s actually a list of the latest activities on our site. I think it’s interesting because it allows me to see who the most popular businesses and farms are on MarketMaker. When I last checked, Frank Farms in Berrien Center, Michigan was among the most visited sites on MarketMaker. According to their profile they sell a wide assortment of fruit and produce as well as soybeans. Lauren Farms down in Leland, Mississippi also has quite a following on MarketMaker. They sell freshwaters prawns and catfish. They are unique and their web site is worth visiting. You can even find recipes like PRAWNS & GRITS CASSEROLE there.
What’s New in MarketMaker includes a list of our newest registrants and the most recent posts to MarketMaker’s Buy Sell Forum. If you are a restaurant or grocery store looking for organically grown chicken, check out the post from Windy Ridge Farm in Alfred, New York.
If you’re interested, check out What’s New in MarketMaker at http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/whatsnew.php
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