Seattle Farmer Fisher Chef Connection 2011

A week ago today, PSFN attended the 2011 Farmer Fisher Chef Connection (F2C2) at Herban Feast Sodo Park, hosted by the Seattle Chef’s Collaborative. As always, the event was beautifully put together: the open layout of the venue encouraged networking and provided a classy yet laid back atmosphere. Before I go any further, I want to thank the event volunteers and planning committee for all of their hard work and persistence – the event was fabulous!

PSFN tabled at the event to attract new members, to spotlight  PSFN’s current projects, and to highlight how PSFN has evolved since its launch a year ago.  Launched primarily as an online marketing tool, PSFN has really transformed itself into a more robust and holistic non-profit marketing and networking service for participants in the local food economy. In addition to its online marketing tool, PSFN offers direct account management with every member assigned to an individual account manager. This individual assistance is what many producers and buyers are looking for, and is the most useful in establishing long-term, sustainable local relationships.  Many interested producers and buyers were drawn to our table at Farmer Fisher Chef Connection for just these reasons.  It was so good to meet you all – we look forward to working with you!

The keynote speaker, Laurie Demeritt, president of The Hartman Group, gave an informational presentation on how to “Turn your Story into Market Success”. Basically, if you’re a farmer/business owner, you need to communicate “your story” to your target audience. This is a strong and inexpensive marketing technique that can be accomplished – for example – by adding verbiage to packaging materials, enhancing your presence at farmers’ markets with a personal message on a chalkboard, or adding images and narrative to your website. Dermeritt later moderated a panel of Northwest business owners: Chrystie Kisler of Finnriver Farm, Riley Starks of Lummi Island Wild Co-op, and Ethan Stowell of Ethan Stowell Restaurants. Dermeritt gracefully facilitated the panel and helped them to share their personal business stories with the audience. Very inspirational and heartwarming!

Another panel discussion, “Farms & Fins: The Balance of Farming in Essential Salmon Habitat” gave a well-rounded, dynamic story. We were able to clearly see the efforts that environmental conservationists and farmers, alike, put into maintain quality spawning habitat for salmon. Elizabeth Dubovsky of Why Wild; Dale Reiner of Reiner Farms; Andrew Stout of Full Circle; Deborah Oaks of the Stewardship Partners, Seattle; and Geof Lebon of F/V Halmia gave insight on current conservation efforts and the energy that local farmers put into managing salmon habitat on their land.

Jake Fowler, a Project Manager for NABC, participated in the panel, “The Concept of Retail: An Overview of Adding Value to Your Product.” Skagit Fresh Seasonal Cider, a product developed by PSFN member, Skagit Fresh Beverage Company, with Jake’s guidance was used as an example to discuss the whole process of creating a value added product and bringing it to market: initial feasibility studies, market analysis, determining current food trends, new ways to add value to products, finding places to process and sell your product, and how to identify your target market.  Also on the panel was Denise Breyley, Local Food Forager for Whole Foods Markets (NW Region) and Skagit Fresh Beverage Company producer partner, Alan Merritt of Merritt Apples. Perkins Variety Apples and PSFN member, Sakuma Bros. Farms, also produce the apples used to make the delicious seasonal cider.

Last but not least, PSFN Project Manager, Lucy Norris, spoke and facilitated a panel discussion on “The Wholesale Market: An Alternative to Traditional Distribution.” Lucy spoke about the Wholesale Markets that PSFN organizes. This past growing season, PSFN collaborated with local producers and wholesale buyers to launch two grassroots,business-to-business wholesale markets in Mount Vernon and Seattle to help facilitate local wholesale and institutional purchasing. PSFN was recently able to run some numbers and evaluate the impact of the 2010 Wholesale markets – both were successful! Check out this link for more information on the 2010 PSFN Wholesale markets.  PSFN Members Sarita Schaffer of Viva Farms, Denise Breyley, and Chris Johnson of United General Hospital, as well as Erin Treat of the Skagit Valley Food Co-op served as a well-rounded group of panelists.  Each shared their role in, and thoughts about, the PSFN wholesale markets.  Thanks, everyone, for participating and supporting PSFN!

Farmer Fisher Chef Connection concluded with networking opportunities and lots of local food and beverage tastings. Thanks, Seattle Chef’s Collaborative and Herban Feast for hosting, it was such a great day! And let’s hear it for staff members Jake Fowler and Lucy Norris, as well as all our PSFN members who participated in panels for representing PSFN and NABC so heartily at Farmer Fisher Chef Connection 2011!

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