Tuesday, December 30, 2008

King County Ag Commission Future of Agriculture Hearings

The King County Agriculture Commission invites your ideas about the future of agriculture.

The King County Agriculture Commission is sponsoring a series of 5 public meetings in early 2009 to gather information that will help shape the future of agriculture in King County.

Findings from these meetings and other research will be used in a report to the King County Council relating to the future of agriculture within the county’s agricultural production districts, plus recommendations for legislation regarding the allowed size of agricultural accessory buildings.

Meeting dates & times:

Woodinville - Thursday, January 8 - 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.,

Carnation - Thursday, January 22 – 7-9pm

Auburn - Thursday, February 12 - 7–9pm

Enumclaw - Thursday March 12 - 7 – 9pm

Vashon – date to be determined

For details, go to: www.kingcounty.gov/wlr.

Meeting participants will be asked to share their opinions on several important questions, including:

* What are you growing or raising and how is it changing?
* What kinds of resources or services do you need to be a successful farmer in the future?
* What are the trends you think are important to the future of farming in this region?
* How can King County nurture and promote the business of farming for the future?

Your ideas on the future of farming can also be shared with King County through a short online questionnaire, at http://www.kingcounty.gov/wlr.

For more information, contact Nancy Hutto, chair of the King County Agriculture Commission at 206-949-4550 or Steve Evans at steve.evans@kingcounty.gov .

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winter Wonderland

-There are a bunch of farmers markets still open. Check out Puget Sound Fresh for listings. Go get your local on.

-With the New Year comes a bunch of new events to attend! I know that I'm looking forward to the Chefs Collaborative Farmer-Chef Connection, which is always a fun networking event.

-We have the results from the Eat Local for Thanksgiving campaign survey. Some really interesting responses. Next year, we definitely need to connect with more local beverage makers (e.g. beer and wine). Lots of people included Washington wine.

-Snow makes people in Seattle crazy.

-Lotsa people will make food-related New Year's resolutions...usually around dieting. Anyone making a farming-related resolution? Or a "buy local" resolution? Drop a note in the comment section!


New President, new food policy?

Advocates of Change in Food Policy Look to Obama With Hope

A Food Agenda for Obama

On a lighter note...

Bio-Tech Companies Roll Out New Products for 2009

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Foodista.com Launched

Foodista.com, a foodie wikipedia, recently launched. Their slogan: The Online Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit. Sounds great! The website was created by a handful of Amazon.com alums. I think they should add a section about local food...or maybe link back to Puget Sound Fresh. Since I just signed up, maybe I'll pop over there and add it as a category. Gotta love open source content creation.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jolly Green Business Park

Looks like Dayton, WA is working to build an "eco-business park" to attract small-scale food processors to their neck of the woods. Great! Ever since the Jolly Green Giant jobs left for..you guessed it! Peru!, they have been searching for new industry to take up the employment/growth/revenue slack. How interesting that they picked small-scale food processing! Someone over there must be watching the trends closely (see post below). Also, with the booming Walla Walla wine industry nearby, it's conceivable that this new eco-park would be able to attract artisinal processors to their sleepy burg. This South East WA project dovetails nicely with our Puget Sound Food Project. Like the town of Dayton, we are trying to revive the food processing industry here in our region. It will be interesting to watch these two efforts develop.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Second PCC/CHC Podcast: David Montgomery

Happy Monday! The combination of snow on the ground and the holiday spirit in the air seems to have slowed everything down just a touch, which is nice. We're wrapping up some of our 2008 projects and eagerly planning for 2009. Stay tuned for some fun and important announcements!

Our friends over at PCC Natural Markets recently posted the second part in the Cascade Harvest Coalition 2008 Podcast Series featuring renowned UW professor David Montgomery speaking at the Snohomish County Focus on Farming Conference. Professor Montgomery was recently chosen as a MacArthur Fellow (aka the "Genius Grant") for his work as a geomorphologist.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chef Survey: What's Hot in 2009

The National Restaurant Association just released the results from their Chef Survey. Over 1,600 chefs from across the nation took the survey. The number one trend? Locally grown produce. Boo-yah! It's a really fascinating study that reinforces our work here at Cascade Harvest Coalition, 'cause that's what we are: your local food and farming resource center.

Shout out to Jen Lamson and Kristin Hyde from Good Food Strategies for the tip.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Food Waste = Wasted Dollars

Here's a really interesting article about how the food industry, in particular institutional food service, is monitoring food waste and trying to find ways to cut it down. Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is the section that describes how students at Virginia Tech are responding to the school removing trays from the cafeteria. Getting people to change their behavior is often the most difficult part of "going green", so it's heartening to read that, in general, the students easily transitioned to the new system.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Buy local, it's a great investment

Dour economic news bombards us from all sides, which gets everyone all in a panic. Let's take a brief moment to step off of the index rollercoasters and try to take charge of what we know we can affect. A stable national economy starts with stable local economies. Take care of the home front first. How do you create a stronger local economy?


The last word may be the most important one, especially for those new to the movement toward local. Sometimes I hear from folks that it's unreasonable to buy everything locally. And you know what? That's absolutely true. Personally, I love bananas. And coffee. Neither of those items grows anywhere in the Puget Sound region (except maybe in a hothouse somewhere). They aren't local, but I'm still going to buy them. The key point is to buy local first. For instance, there are a lot of Washington farms growing a lot of potatoes. Instead of buying potatoes from somewhere else (Idaho, China, wherehaveyou) I choose Washington grown potatoes. Same thing goes for any other product. Buy local first. You don't have to completely overhaul your purchasing, just choose local products over non-local ones. Consider the money you spend locally as an investment in the future of your neighborhood, your city, your county, your state. By spending money within your community, you help build the strength of your local economy. And that's a great start to creating a sunny economic forecast.


San Francisco drafting food policy

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Puget Sound Fresh Bus Boards

Check out our lovely bus board advertising on Snohomish County transit. Big thanks to PCC Natural Markets for helping with production costs!

Doesn't the classic gray, overcast, NW weather just make those colors pop?!

I think they look great. What do you think?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome back!

We hope you had a delicious (and local) Thanksgiving holiday.

A few articles of note:

Americans' Food Stamp Use Nears All-Time High

Gleaning Gone Crazy - 40,000 Show Up to Pick Leftover Crops at Colorado Farm

Recap of "Future of Farming" Conference

Upcoming Event:

Making Local Farm-to-School Connections

A workshop for extension agents and other ag professionals

December 11, 2008

D.F. Allmendinger Center (videoconferencing available at other locations)

WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center

Farm-to-school connections are sparking interest around the state, as producers, advocates, educators and food service professionals see the potential for farm-to-school programs to expand local markets for farms and provide access to more fresh foods for children and youth in schools. This past year the Legislature passed the Local Farms-Healthy Kids Act, creating a Farm-to-School Program in the Washington State Department of Agriculture to support farm-to-school links and providing money to 25 schools around the state to buy Washington-grown fruits and vegetables. Those and other schools are now actively seeking produce from Washington farms to serve in their snack programs.

Join us for a workshop on Thursday, December 11, 2008 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the D.F. Allmendinger Center at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center in Puyallup to learn how you can support successful farm-to-school connections in your community. Please let us know if you’d like to participate by video-conference at an Extension office in another part of the state—we can likely make that happen!

This workshop will provide the tools and resources for Extension educators and other agriculture professionals to facilitate successful buyer and seller relationships between farms and schools. We’ll provide information on food safety, certification and liability insurance issues for farms seeking to sell to schools. You’ll also gain resources and ideas to share with schools for teaching about the links between food, farming, health, culture and the environment.

Each participant will receive a Farm-to-School binder with reference materials, so that you can respond knowledgeably and easily to producers and school personnel seeking to implement or become involved in Farm-to-School programs.

The workshop is free, and lunch is provided (for those attending in person in Puyallup). Pre-registration is required. To register, please contact Maura Walsh at the WSDA Farm-to-School Program: mwalsh@agr or call 360-902-1935. For more information, or to request a videoconference in your area, please contact Tricia Sexton Kovacs at tkovacs@agr.wa.gov or 360-902-2029.

Brought to you by WSU King County Extension Farm-to-School Connections and WSDA Small Farm and Direct Marketing and Farm-to-School programs, with funding from a WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources SARE Professional Development Mini-Grant.