FFN Business Meeting Minutes – Sept 16, 2015

Sept 16, 2015, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance, 1610 Barlow, Traverse City

Meeting Minutes IconINTRODUCTIONS: Amanda Kik, Amy MacKay, Amy Martin, Annie Olds, Bill Koucky, Bill Palladino, Brian Bourdages, Carol Danly, Heather Ratliff, Mark Coe, Meghan McDermitt, Rod Robinson, Sandi McArthur, Sarah Eichberger, Scott Smith, Sharron May, Stephanie Cumper, Tricia Phelps, Wendy Weiland, Zane Schwaiger

ROLE OF VISTA: See blog post of 7/27/15. VISTA provides support to organizations for the purpose of increasing capacity. The focus with FFN is measurement of progress against goals and outreach/relationship building. Carol has increased the activity of FFN on social media and has attended three of ISLAND’s Twilight Tours plus a Local Food Alliance meeting in Petoskey. She is working with 15 other organizations on the October 24 event “Putting Down Roots” and has a screening of “The Greenhorns” movie scheduled for Petoskey on October 21. Carol will be working closely with the task force leaders as they meet with their groups to work on measurements.

STRATEGIC PLANNING 2015-16: Amy Martin, a consultant with NorthSky/Rotary, is one of several consultants working with regional networks either mapping connections and relationships or evaluating the health of organizations. Amy will be assisting FFN with a member survey to evaluate health, identify gaps, and act on things we’d like to address. Related to this, it is likely the 2016 FFN Summit will be a re-examination of who we are rather than an update-only. It will be important to have growers and producers in the room. Their input on the survey and at the Summit will be critical for moving FFN forward in the right direction. Moving in the right direction may include:  promoting networking, ensuring help is being given where needed, meeting the needs of the farming community, inclusive of restaurants/retailers/value-added producers, getting input from those not currently involved, changing the language/measurement of current goals to be more realistic, looking at quality of life.

TASK FORCE REPORTS: Bill and Heather are responsible for the overall FFN goal. Task forces shouldn’t get bogged down in the language of the goals.  Focus on measuring five things that we know (beginning with 2010, if able to go back in time). Eventually we will look for what else we need to know and then look to solve problems. (See complete list of goals in the 2015 Report to the Community.) Work of the task forces are done between meetings and then reported to FFN at bimonthly business meetings.

#1 (Tricia): Due to the overlap between goals #1 and #2, her group will not be looking for institutional measures. They will focus on retail and consumer. Members of this task force include; Steve Nance, Oryana; Stephanie Pierce, Cherry Capital Foods; Brian Bates, Bear Creek Organic Farm. Currently they are looking at measures that each of them already take.

#2 (Sarah): Sarah agreed to lead this task force just last week. She wants to expand definition of institutions (eg: to include senior centers) and find out what institutions are tied into “Cultivate Michigan”. Tricia suggested Laura McCain might be a good task force member.  Sarah welcomes new ideas.

#3 (Wendy): The team is being assembled. Annie has agreed to join. Wendy wants the definition of new-agribusiness to include new business models. This goal ties in with many of the newer farm programs (eg: grants). Zane suggested measures can include an increase in the number of small farm loans and attendees at the Small Farm Conference.

#4 (Meghan): She is thinking Kris Thomas, people from Bacn and Father Fred, and Brandon Seng (or his VISTA, Taylor) would be good task force members. Meghan was complimented for including faith-based organizations since they are not well represented in FFN. Mark mentioned that food pantries meet monthly and Val Stone might be a good addition. The 100% food access goal is acknowledged as not being realistic.

#5 (Brian): Rod is a member of this group plus two MAEAP techs. They have identified five measurable elements. Brian reported they want to work with farmland appraisers, Greenstone, and TAAR regarding land affordability trends. Sharron suggested the existence of zoning ordinances (by location) would be a good measure. Brian offered to be the “trial balloon” for what the end product for a task force might look like.


Sarah: MSU Extension has launched a survey to sharpen their focus.  Heather noted a link was posted on Facebook today.  Please take a moment to complete the survey.

Brain: Would like FFN members to continue pulling people together to work on things as the need arises.

Amanda: ISLAND is, once again, a USDA Risk Management Agency and receives grant money for programs; FFN logo is being added to PR materials.  Bill noted all are encouraged to add the FFN logo.

Zane: She is working on Northwest Michigan Farm Link Program to connect farmers nearing retirement with beginning farmers. Nikki Rothwell is working on this too. There will be a series of meetings and they are applying for a grant.

Mark: Farm to Freezer is now a certified organic processor and will be introducing an organic line. They are getting produce from Providence Farm.

Wendy: Please invite food entrepreneurs to attend “Making It in Michigan” on November 10 in Lansing. Also, the Local Food Alliance will be having a health-focused “Around the Table” mini-conference on October 28.

Meghan: Diane is in Lansing for 10 Cents/Meal and hoping for a State level pilot project in January.  They are working on the Farms, Food and Health event which will precede the Small Farm Conference–January 29.

Bill: Groundwork is working with folks up north and hoping to have funding for a food and farming position in the Emmet County area. Scott says they are calling it the Northern Farms Foodshed region. Bill explained that the Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance is a nonprofit operating the Grand Traverse Food Innovation Hub–which is for profit and may be filled by year-end. Taste the Local Difference has been contracted to manage the Hub. Taste the Local Difference will soon officially be a for profit subsidiary of Groundwork. Beginning this week, TLD is expanding into Washtenaw County and hopes to be in a few more counties by the end of 2016. As a result, Heather will be playing a more front and center role with FFN.

Amy: The Groundwork’s Harvest event at the Commons is October 10. It will feature 100% local foods.

Carol: On October 21 FFN will be headed to Harrietta Hills Trout Farm for a tour. The December study session will feature Dave Barrons and others discussing extreme weather conditions.


Carol – Form Summit task force (include Sharron; best date for Summit may be February although some people will have headed someplace warm at that time); meet with task force #5 soon; sit in with on all task force meetings and take notes; send high resolution FFN logo to all; email Wendy re: facilitating extreme weather study session

Task Force Leaders – Schedule meetings to include Carol. Pick five (5) things to measure. Goal is to have something to present at the Summit.

Rod – Locate notes for past work on five measurable elements for #5.

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