Monday, June 16, 2008

Anyone for green strawberries?

Last Friday, Mary and I, along with some of our other project partners, took about 50 members of the Carolyn Foundation on a local farm tour. The Carolyn Foundation is the primary funding source for the Puget Sound Food Project (PSFP), so this was an important event for us. Also, the tour served as a catalyst for us to clarify our project goals and methods.

We all met at the Sheraton hotel in downtown Seattle for introductions and a quick lunch. From the outset, all of the foundation representatives were very friendly, engaged and eager to ask lots of questions and chat up a storm. While not a formal bunch, they were all very serious about the foundation's mission and goals.

After lunch, we piled into a large tour bus and headed east, toward the Snoqualmie River Valley. Mary played the part of a tour guide and pointed out some sights and gave the group an overview of CHC, PSFP and the day's agenda.

Rough agenda:

-Tour Full Circle Farm. Farmer Andrew spoke about post-harvest handling and the importance of farm-related infrastructure, while showing off the brand new concrete slab that will form the foundation for the farm's on-site compost facility/machine shed.
-Bruce Dunlop of Lopez Island Farms and the project lead for the pastured poultry arm of the project gave an overview of his experience, the demand for pastured poultry and the basic outline of our plan.
-Tour Jubilee Farms. Owner-farmer Erick Haakonsen talked about the need to protect agricultural land for food and fiber production and how new agriculturally focused infrastructure would boost a whole range of positive outcomes for local farmers.

All in all, the tour was a great success. Everyone from the elders to the lil' 'uns seemed to have a great time, especially toward the end of the day when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. I was surprised at the sophistication and variety of questions from the group.

Article Roll-call: for thought? Not sure I agree that walking has a greater environmental impact than driving, but it spurs an interesting debate.

Supermarket bananas: A monoculture crop facing possible extinction

Population growth impact vs. claims of "city greening"

Monday, June 9, 2008

FoodLust Recap

FoodLust 2008 was a huge success! Thank you to everyone that attended and helped us raise close to $24,000 for Cascade Harvest Coalition, specifically our Washington FarmLink program.

In fact, the only issue at the event was the crummy weather. Sure, most of the attendees were hardened NW natives that aren't bothered by a spot of rain "to keep the dust down", but it seems like we've been mired in a looooooong trend of cold, gloomy and sopping-wet weather. Will it clear up? Traditionally, July 5th marks the true start of NW summer. This year, perhaps not.

Next up for Cascade Harvest Coalition: A visit from the Carolyn Foundation to discuss the Puget Sound Food Project and tour some local farms.


Article Roll-call:

Hedge funds pump money into food production

Cafe Juanita's Holly Smith is the 2008 James Beard award recipient for best chef in the NW

Congrats, Holly!

Friday, June 6, 2008


FoodLust 2008 is tomorrow!

It's gonna be a real wing-ding event that'll knock your socks off: some of the best food from the area, classy company, truly exceptional auction items and, of course, a wonderful cause and beneficiary: CHC.

More to come on Monday...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rewind and review

Yes, I've been slow on the updates....I apologize. In my defense, we do have a large benefit coming up (check it out here...sorry, it's sold out!) and I went to NYC for five days. That was my second time in the Big Apple and I left very impressed. The two standout items: the subway and walking. How does this relate to CHC, you ask? Simple: those two items make the city a better and healthier place to live...and part of our mission is to build healthier communities.

Here's an article from this week's New York Times entitled Salad Days for the Internet (no, I didn't pick it up in New York and yes, this will hopefully be the last mention of New York). The brunt of the article is that there are new and exciting ways for the average citizen (read: someone not part of the "choir") to buy locally grown food online. While the author doesn't delve too deeply into the positives or negatives of the various produce home delivery companies, the general tone of the article endorses them and their practice.

One of the companies spotlighted in the article is SPUD (Small Potatoes Urban Delivery). SPUD operates here in the NW and many of you may be familiar with the company. In fact, many of you may remember that SPUD recently bought Pioneer Organics, another online produce home delivery company.

Is this good? Is it bad? Is it somewhere in the middle? On one hand, it seems like a "green washing" effort, whereby companies claim to support local food systems, but their true allegiance is with greater profits. On the other hand, these companies are a fantastic way for the average citizen to start getting involved with local agriculture. One major question: do these companies actually work with local farms or do they buy all of their produce from large distributors? I think that's the rub right there. I mean, acting as a middle-man is one thing, but acting as a retail front while claiming to support local farms is a hoax. I waver on this topic. I'm not exactly sure where I fall. I think I'll wait to pass final judgment until we get a better idea of what these companies are actually doing. If they follow traditional businesses and, as they grow, lose their values, then it's a bad trend. If, however, they find innovative and constructive ways of dealing with local farms and providing greater access to local agriculture, then it's a great trend.

We shall see. In the next few posts, I'll write about our trip to Kitsap County to visit with farmer/author/ramble-rouser Joel Salatin and the enormous success of FoodLust 2008.


Article Roll-call:

Group works collaboratively with healthcare companies to improve quality

Fast Food Goes Organic

Beef Disputes