There’s a moment when you realize why you come to a conference. The personal connections lead to information and the workshops, well, they lead to information too.
Today’s most interesting workshop topics were Reinventing Food Distribution without Reinventing the Wheel and Fresh, Local Food for ALL: Increasing Access to and Diversity Within CSA.
We chose the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) workshop, and with great reward. The concept of Neighborhood Nutrition Centers is based on utilizing CSA growers to provide the food to be distributed from the centers. At this workshop, two CSA-use programs were highlighted.
Laura Dowd of the Local Foods Connection presented her organization, which funds CSA purchases to give to families in need – currently serving 33 families and 10 agencies. This model does not charge the family for their food, and pays full price to the growers for produce and food. Ms. Dowd has some interesting aspects of the program whereby participants can complete certain tasks to earn points, to be used for purchasing kitchen equipment in their store. Most new kitchen items are donated from manufacturers or local stores – with some purchased by Local Food Connections.
The other organization, the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition serves families by providing CSA shares at 50% of the growers cost, while still paying growers full price. A majority of this program is paid for by sales of their cook book From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking farm Fresh, Seasonal Produce, and the annual Bike the Barns fundraiser.
We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from this workshop, and may need to consider a trip to Madison to learn more about MACSAC.
And the personal connections? A special shout-out to Elizabet Humble of the Hometown Harvest SE Iowa. Don’t let the cops get you down. Remember, calm and assertive.
Finally, we received notice that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be making a Tuesday morning appearance at the conference. This will be the first time that a cabinet-level person from the administration will be speaking at the Community Food Security Coalition. The importance of this movement is snowballing.
(Did I mention that we had snow in Des Moines on our first morning?)