This Tuesday, February 22, the Puget Sound Food Network attended the Northwest Washington Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting in Bellingham, WA. Sustainable Connections, Cascade Harvest Coalition and the Northwest Agriculture Business Center hosted the event. The focus of this meeting was to allow for one-on-one networking and to learn what’s working in our local food economy in regards to getting locally produced foods into grocery stores, institutions, schools, and ultimately on the plate in front of you.
Lucy Norris, PSFN Project Manager facilitated a discussion on “What’s working in Farm to School & Farm to Hospital.” PSFN members Chris Johnson, Executive Chef of United General Hospital and Clayton Burrows, Executive Director of Growing Washington, as well as Chris Kenney, WWU Dining Services and Mark Dalton from the Bellingham School Districts shared with the audience the major hurdles and successes that their institutions have faced while putting local food on their menus. Of the panel members that work for institutions, they want to put more locally produced goods into their institutions, but in most cases have limited infrastructure or funding to process or store them.
Two other panel discussions were facilitated and allowed for the audiences to ask questions and start conversations. Facilitator, Sarah Wilcox from the Cascade Harvest Coalition questioned a panel on the “Economic Benefits of Diverse Markets and Operations” and facilitator Mariah Ross from Sustainable Connections questioned a panel on “The Business of Sustainability: how it works for your bottom line”.
The day ended with one -on-one Producer/Buyer sessions. The local producers and buyers were able to obtain expert advice on marketing, zero waste practices, business planning, and food safety techniques. Local vintners, cheese makers, and various other producers offered samples of their amazing products during this time. Yum!
Producers and buyers walked away from the Northwest Washington Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting with priceless knowledge, valuable contact information, and full bellies. What a successful event!