One piece of the puzzle in developing a strong local food economy is to provide the information needed to support farmers, gardeners and food entrepreneurs and to make information about the value of fresh local products widely available in the community. Towards this end SustainFloyd has embarked on a number of projects:
Growers Round Table
In order to better assess the needs and wishes of local growers SustainFloyd convened a Growers Round Table in February 2016. Over 80 farmers and food entrepreneurs attended and there was a lively interaction. The meeting included representatives from the Floyd County Economic Development office, Floyd County Extension Service, and from the local nonprofit Plenty. As a result of the meeting a list of ideas and suggestions was gathered, and later refined by a small working group. This list is helping to guide the work of SustainFloyd and the other entities engaged in the conversation.
Farm to School
SustainFloyd received funding for a two-year project aimed at bringing local foods into the school system, and providing education to students about the value of whole foods. The project allowed our project coordinator Amy Avery Grubel to arrange a number of tastings and lessons in the schools, and to work with kitchen staff and produce buyers to get more fresh food on the school menus. Amy’s work was instrumental in the introduction of a salad bar at the high school. In spite of skepticism about this the salad bar has proved to be popular with students and is a positive outcome from this project.
Our Blue Valley Organic Farm was founded to test a specific model of farming recommended for our area. The farm ran for two years from 2012 to 2014, producing some fine crops which were sold wholesale and to local restaurants. Finding that this particular model was not a sustainable one we decided to discontinue the experiment and move on to other projects. SustainFloyd remains open to trying another agriculture project when the right timing and conditions arise.
Beginner Farmer Workshops
SustainFloyd has now run two series of farming workshops for beginner farmers and gardeners. Floyd has some good agricultural land, not the big swaths of flat land that are needed for large scale agriculture, but small pockets of land suited to small scale, intentional farming. This is a good location for developing specialty crops and specialty value added foods. Our workshops provided basic information for someone wanting to start a new farming enterprise or someone who has some experience and would like gleen more information and share questions. We plan to follow up on these classes with some workshops on specific topics.