FFN Business Meeting Minutes – Mar 16, 2016

Meeting Minutes IconNorthwest Michigan Food and Farming Network (FFN) Business Meeting
March 16, 2016, 10:30-noon

In Attendance: Amanda Kik, Bill Palladino, Brian Bourdages, Brian Matchett, Carol Danly, Hannah Fernando, Heather Ratliff, Kris Thomas, Mark Coe, Meghan McDermott, Mollie Thomas, Rick Gleason, Rod Robinson, Sarah Eichberger, Sharron May (remote), Steve Nance (remote),Tricia Phelps

TO DO:
⦁ Consider printing FFN business cards and postcards with meeting/action team/website info for use by active members.
⦁ Provide Sarah with contact information for farmers who have done farm to school successfully.
⦁ Suggest to Rick venues for 150 people that can showcase local food.

2015-16 MEETINGS:
1. April 20, 2016 (study session) – Topic will be economic development with an agricultural focus. There will be brief presentations of three reports on the state of northwest Michigan agriculture and a panel discussion follows. Panelists and presenters include representatives from Networks Northwest, Lakes to Land Initiative, SBDC, plus others (to be determined).
2. May 18, 2016 (business meeting)
3. June 15, 2016 – If you enjoyed the post-summit happy hour, you’ll love our end-of-the season celebration at the Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance, 1st floor of the Cherry Capital Foods building. It will be a grand opening, of sorts, for the Foodshed Alliance! Details will be forthcoming.

GRANTS:
⦁ Bill reported ⦁ USDA specialty crop block grant is due March 31
⦁ Tricia has secured funding through the Building Healthy Communities grant
⦁ Kris says Betsie Valley Elementary is using grant funding for Taste It Tuesdays—a produce sampling activity initiated by the school and modeled after FoodCorps which was once in that building
⦁ Bill announced the FFN mini-grant program for collaborative projects in our 10-county region.  Here is a link to details and the application.
⦁ Steve says Oryana is taking a look at their Community Grant program. They will be considering new possibilities for effectively supporting local producers of high quality, sustainable products with member-owner support

LEADERSHIP CHANGES:
Over the course of the last year, the structure of the FFN has developed into two co-leaders (Bill and Heather) and five task force leaders (Brian, Meghan, Sarah, Tricia, and Wendy Weiland). Now the position of “champion” is being added in three areas: public health, education, and policy.

Champions will stay on top of what’s happening and work across task force teams identifying opportunities. Sarah is moving to the position of public health champion. Kelly Lively will replace her as Farm to Institution task force leader.

Last year’s task for teams worked on measurements against goals. This year will be devoted to project development and implementation with the possibility of mini-grants.

Education and policy champions are yet to be identified. Sharron volunteered that she is the zoning and planning project champion (economic development) and working on broadening definitions as relates to ag zoning. She is looking for input.

TASK FORCE TEAM REPORTS:
1. Tricia Phelps (Taste the Local Difference) leads the LOCAL FOOD SALES team. They are working on direct and indirect sales. Tricia sees moving more farmers to indirect sales as the way to build local agriculture and is also interested in identifying untapped consumer bases. For her 2016-17 project, she is leaning toward a northwest Michigan ag census…because the USDA ag census just doesn’t measure what we need to know in our region. She is looking for an economist-type to add to her team in order to make sure the local ag census measures are valid, etc. In particular, she wants to learn more about whether local food sales are providing a living wage or having other impacts on farmers.

2. Kelly Lively (Cherry Capital Foods) has replaced Sarah Eichberger (who is now the Public Health champion) in leading the FARM TO INSTITUTION effort. At the recent summit, the team settled on three SMART goals to be accomplished by the Feb, 2017 summit. Those goals are:
a. Healthcare/Hospitals, More Engagement
i. Talk to a McLaren rep or several about buying/using local food
ii. 3 representatives/3 meetings
iii. By next Feb (2017)
b. At least one hospital in region: Munson Healthcare
i. Local food gets on trays/cafeteria menu
ii. 3 food items of regular orders
iii. By Sept 2016
c. Fair Share / worksite CSA
i. Find 1 group small employers
ii. Find 1 large employer to launch/offer a CSA (possibly Munson, downtown, TC/Chamber)
iii. By Feb 2017

3. Wendy Weiland (MSU-E) leads the AGRI-BUSINESS GENERATION task force. She was unable to attend the business meeting. That team will focus on building local production and processing capacity–both new and existing. Wendy is still putting her team together.

4. Meghan McDermott (Groundwork) has a very active FOOD ACCESS working on healthful food for all. It is a large group and they’ve already met once since the summit. They will be doing several projects and applying for mini-grant funds–probably for four or five projects. Members of the groups include a food pantry, a farmers market, Food Rescue, Healthy Harvest (gleaning), Grow Benzie, and more.

5. Brian Bourdages (Tamarack Holdings) also has a strong team for FARMLAND RESOURCES. They include representatives from land conservancies, a lawyer, a financial institution, and an ag educator. Brian’s team is leaning toward setting up a Farmlink-type program to identify resources needed for new and existing farmers and what’s happening with farmland. He also wants to support rigorous succession planning workshops–such as the 2-day workshop at the MSU horticulture station. In his work, Brian is developing a private farmland investment group.

6. Anyone interested in joining one of the task force teams above can contact Carol Danly at foodandfarmingnetwork@gmail.com .

SUMMIT FOLLOW UP:

There were 98 people in attendance (and 16 no shows) at the February 26, 2016 summit at the Hagerty Conference Center. The summit was planned by Heather, Brian, Sharron, Carol, and Amber Ressl. Net revenue was $2367.64–which covers the cost of the local foods lunch. The five new literature pieces were presented and are posted on the website . Bill Koucky, Grand Traverse Culinary Oils and Flours, received the Chapman award. Networking continued after the summit during happy hour.

Heather has digitized the sticky notes that were placed on Penny K’s posters from a previous summit. The sticky notes represented work that organizations have done since then. This will be clickable on the website in the near future. The information can be used to identify gaps—work that is yet to be done by the network.

Thank you notes will be in the mail soon.

GENERAL UPDATES:
1. Amanda: ISLAND is now Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology. Crosshatch is an art term and also combines the idea of cross (pollination, organizational collaboration, etc.) and hatch. They have a new program and a redesigned program:
a. Crosshatch and Grain Train Natural Foods Market have teamed up to offer low-interest loans for farms and food-related businesses in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, and Otsego counties. Applicants can apply for loans between $500 and $6,000. Loans will have a 2.5% interest rate with 18-month repayment terms. There is no application fee.
b. Crosshatch is changing the scope of the farmer residency program. They are:
i. Creating a legal internship structure for applying to work on local farms
ii. Developing a residency program that will place new farmers on existing local farms. For example, a new farmer might use 3 acres at Birch Point Farm. All housing situations will be different.
iii. Discontinuing the Maple Bay farmer residency program for 2016

2. Mark: Brain Matchett, Tom Emling, Jacob Moord, Our Neighbor’s Garden, and Taylor Moore are working with students from the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District and Northwestern Michigan College/Michigan State University on a plan to start seedlings for programs. You might say it’s School to Farm.

3. Rick:
a. Farm Bureau is planning an ag career seminar for the end of the school year with Jacob Moord.
b. Four county Farm Bureaus are planning a member meeting at the end of September for 150 farmers. They need a venue and want to showcase local food.

4. Sarah – MSU Extension has funding for hands-on training for five foodservice professionals to work with real food. She is looking for farmers who have worked successfully with schools to speak.

5. Sharron: She is participating in a 6-week economic development discussion focusing on Benzie, Manistee, Wexford, Grand Traverse, and Kalkaska counties. Sponsors and participants include Lakes to Land Initiative, Networks Northwest, MSU, Purdue, USDA, local economic developers, planners, and other agencies. They are designing strategies for economic development and Sharron is speaking up for the ag community.

6. Kris: The Healthy Harvest success story speaker at the summit, farmer Ryan Noonan, is interested in getting more involved with FFN.

7. Mark & Meghan: Mark, Meghan, Kelly Lively, and Brandon Seng were in Washington, DC a few weeks ago for lobbying training provided by Pew Charitable Trusts. They visited Senators Stabenow and Peters plus Congressman Benishek about the Child Nutrition Act. Benishek asked for an appropriations request.

8. Carol: 150 people attended In Defense of Food at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City. The movie is showing in Petoskey tonight. Future screenings are scheduled for Kalkaska, Benzonia, Cadillac, Suttons Bay, and East Jordan. FFN is also participating in the Northwestern Michigan College Earth Day event at the Hagerty Conference Center. A job description for next year’s VISTA is being drafted.

FFN SUCCESS STORIES
1. Bill & Mark: Food Rescue and Taste the Local Difference launched an online tool for food pantries/meal sites and farmers to communicate privately with each other about needs and availability of food. It resides on the Taste the Local Difference website. It is called OnePantry.org and is open to the public to find pantry/meal site services.

2. Meghan: A relationship has been developing with Les Hagaman/Father Fred. It has gone from attending one meeting to planting in existing garden beds to building new raised beds so food pantry clients can see how to grow food. Les was on the team measuring food access and creating the one-sheet. He attended the recent summit. This relationship will be featured in the new Taste the Local Difference magazine.

HIRING
1. Groundwork
a. Filling Hannah’s AmeriCorps VISTA position for the TBAISD Farm to School project
b. Food and Farming Intern
c. FoodCorps for Petoskey

2. Taste the Local Difference – northwest Michigan Coordinator, part-time

3. Cherry Capital Foods – produce buyer, Nicco was promoted

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