Promotion of Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers

 

All in Watauga County interact in meaningful ways with fresh, local food and farms; this includes both residents and visitors. 

 

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Session Summary

Through the Results Based Action (RBA) planning process, the Promotion of Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers group developed a number of key strategies that our community can take to ensure that All in Watauga County Interact in Meaningful Ways with Fresh, Local Food and Farms. They also identified a number of indicators that could help us better know what this goal looks like. Below, you will find the full notes from this Focus Area's action planning process. 

The top ranked strategies for addressing promoting the Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers were:
1. Engage local government and policy through creating a policy for local food procurement and advocating for processes improving transparency in funding programs, particularly a Green Space fund that could support local food.
2. Consider additional farmers' market times and locations to expand access for a wider audience.
3. Develop a reward program for restaurants, businesses, and other sectors for supporting local food and farms, and related awards.
4. Support expansion and development for nutrition and agricultural development programs.
5. Rethink Cooperative Extension programs to better reflect and engage future generations.
6. Partner with health professionals to support local, fresh, healthy foods.
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Top ranked indicators for promoting the Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers were:

  1. Percent of meals that include some local product in order to track ‘consumer awareness of local food and farms’.

  2. Tracking the demographics of consumers at local farmers' markets

    There was a concern that attendance was largely of one racial and economic background, leading to an uncertainty that the same percentage of the population was represented in such marketplaces.
  3. Track institutions (ASU, hospital...) and know the percent of their food budget used to purchase direct from local sources.

    There was an acknowledgement that while this is important, working at a Farmers' Market scale meant more meaningful connections between producers and consumers.
In addition:
For this group, “all” included visitors to our community, not only long-term members. All would include, but is not limited to: residents, visitors, students, tourists, undocumented, and transient.

Promotion of the Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers - Full Session Notes

Result Statement (This is the the goal of this Focus Area.)

All in Watauga County interact in meaningful ways with fresh, local food and farms; this includes both residents and visitors.

Experience (If the result statement were true, what would you see, hear, or do? [in positive terms])

  • Farmers' Market Access; In regards to parking, times, and transportation (AppalCart)
  • People would know what “local” really means; local branding
  • Watauga Food Show
  • Increased education and general knowledge
  • Visitor pamphlets promoting local restaurants, food events
  • “Local Food Movement” as the “norm” rather than a fad; something which is multigenerational, economic, and viable
  • Attend, Eat, and Pay local (fair wage for farmers)
  • Designated, well-known spaces for community gardens; Greenspace Fund?
  • Food, production, and cooking knowledge as a spiritual experience; increase in workshops
  • People (recognized) as both producers and consumers
  • Food acknowledged as the key to survival; intentional meals in school cafeterias, community participation via youth
  • An embrace of knowledge from Older generations; intergenerational interactions
  • Increase in Social Media advertisement highlighting local food; being sure to measure the number of hits

Indicators (How would we measure these experiences [data points]? The Focus Area group ranked the most important indicators [noted in bold].)

  • Percent of population with food-related diseases
  • Quality of Life Metrics
  • Transparency of Greenspace Fund
  • General support of school-system leaders in local food
  • Percent of food budget used for local by institutions
  • Attendance at Farmer’s Markets, pre- and post- promotional events
  • Percent of restaurants who claim to serve local, and what percent of that budget actually goes to local farmers; accountability thresholds, standards.
  • Percent of farmers produce that is exported vs. invested within community; Fresh-Food Atlas
  • Qualitative consumer survey, measurement of awareness (where and how); Desire of local purchasing connected with means and knowledge - increase in Watauga Democrat listings
  • Prominence in media
  • Quality and quantity of interactions with farmers
  • Attendance at food and agricultural events and workshops
  • Social media analytics; number of hits
  • Number of farmers doing direct marketing, reaching financial goals, satisfactory quality of life
  • Diversity, demographics of Farmer’s Market attendance/consumers

What's working in Watauga County? 

  • Regional pride
  • Gleaning from Farmers' Market for food pantries
  • Educational activities/programs
  • CSA programs
  • More interest nationally
  • Higher percent of the population is gardening
  • F.A.R.M. Cafe model (prepared food with local produce)
  • High Country Local First and High Country Grown
  • Engaged county government
  • Farmers' Market ‘Double Bucks’
  • Farmers' Market tokens (for Debit and EBT)
  • On-campus Farmers' Market

Partners (Who already works, or could work, on Promoting the  Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers in Watauga County?)

  • Cooperative Extension
  • ASU
  • Grocery stores
  • County government
  • ‘Lettuce Learn’
  • Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture; CRAFT (farmer) workshops
  • SNAP
  • Food Hub

What could we do more of (or do) to make a greater impact? (The Focus Area group ranked the most important indicators [noted in bold].

  • Engage local officials AND implement policy for local food procurement
  • Transparency in program funding
  • Rating system for restaurants for percent of food purchased (1 cabbage = lowest)
  • Promoting school gardens that actually work with lessons and time; potted classroom gardens, etc.
  • Community re-thinking of 4-H program (to better include youth)
  • Expanding educational workshops; churches, online, healthcare systems, transportation, going to the people)
  • Broader times for Farmers' Market; weekdays, markets opened after traditional working hours, drop-by locations, online Food Hub purchases
  • Media coverage/push
  • Templeton Properties - is the old IRC plant available as a market location/community garden
  • Advocacy, lobbying
  • Collective impact of working as coalition/council; creating a stronger voice

NEXT STEPS

The Promotion of Local Food System & Healthy Food to Consumers group will meet in the next few weeks to begin to initiate its key strategies: 

1. Engage local government and create policy for local food procurement, as well as transparency in funding programs.
2. Consider additional Farmer’s Market times, days, and locations.
3. Reward restaurants and other sectors for supporting local food and farms with a rating system, awards, etcetera.
4. Re-think/expand nutrition and agricultural, 4-H programs.
5. Partner with health professionals.

If you would like to become involved in this Focus Area's work or learn more, please contact Sadikshya Aryal (Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture) at sadikshya@brwia.org.