Wednesday, March 4, 2009

North Sound Farm-to-Table workshop recap

Hey everyone!

The most recent Farm-to-Table workshop, held on March 2nd up in Mt. Vernon, was a huge success! About 50 people attended, roughly half of whom were farmers, one-quarter were local food buyers and one-quarter were resource/support organizations. We had a phenomenal panel of presenters, who discussed "Emerging Market Opportunities for Local Farms":

• Holly Freishtat, Sustainable Food Specialist for Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (WPSR)
• Kirk Hayes, Devine Gardens
• Jodie Buller, Skagit Valley Food Co-op
• Tim Crosby, Northwest Agriculture Business Center/Growing Washington
• Kai Ottesen, Hedlin Farms

The talk ranged from Farm-to-Institution sales, the Puget Sound Food Network, brewing your own on-farm bio-diesel, developing advance growing and purchasing plans with local retailers, diversifying market operations, and more. After the presentation, the audience jumped into the game with lots of questions and comments.

After a short break, we reconvened in smaller break-out sessions to tackle some of the topics brought up in the panel presentation:

• Farm-to-School
• Farm-to-Healthcare
• Puget Sound Food Network
• Farm-to-Retail

To finish the afternoon, we opened up the floor for one-on-one networking and discussion. Everybody who attended seemed engaged, interested and willing to talk to each other. While the top goal for the workshops is to facilitate new sales relationships between local farmers and local food buyers, one of the meaningful longer-term outcomes is the high-quality discussion about "what's next" for local agriculture. The relationships forged through positive group discussion and brainstorming might just turn into the next successful business partnership. Sometimes we get complaints that there's too much talking at these events....well, how else do you expect to make sales? You gotta communicate effectively before you can sell effectively.

Join us for the next workshop!

West Sound Farm-to-Table Workshop
Date: TBA (check our website for updates!)


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