FFN Business Meeting Minutes – Nov 18, 2015

Nov 18, 2015, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance, 1610 Barlow, Traverse City

Meeting Minutes IconINTRODUCTIONS: Brian Bourdages, Mark Coe, Stephanie Cumper, Carol Danly, Sarah Eichberger, Sharron May, Steve Nance, Bill Palladino, Tricia Phelps, Heather Ratliff, Amber Ressl, Scott Smith, Mikaela Taylor, Kris Thomas, Wendy Weiland

SURVEY RESULTS:  Total responses to the member survey was 228 with the majority (more than 100) from consumers, 29 from farmers, and the remainder from others in the food system. Overall, members find the 20% by 2020 goals to be relevant. In addition, it appears the network should focus on health and education. Click here to view the presentation.

FARMER SURVEY PLANS:  For more input from farmers, the Network needs to go where they are and listen. Network members can do this as they go about their work. Reports on what members are learning from farmers will be added to business meeting agendas. Survey result presentations, a 3-question postcard survey, and/or a graffiti wall at the Small Farm Conference are three other possibilities. Carol will create a 3-question postcard survey and organize distribution. If additional unmet needs are identified, they will be incorporated into work at the Summit.

TRANSITION FROM OBJECTIVES TO ACTION AREAS:  Trying to figure out how to measure the 20% local by 2020 objective (based on the Good Food Charter) is slowing the work of the network.  At the Summit, task force leaders will report (via 1-sheet printed documents & rapid-fire presentations) approximately five easily acquired measurements for each of the five objectives. Language for objectives may be reworked/ simplified by each task force team. Good stories welcome too.  Keeping the Good Food Charter in mind the focus at the Summit, however, will be on engaging attendees in action areas–on identifying targets of opportunity with potential for significant local impact.

Actions inspired by past FFN and other discussions have resulted in:  Cherry Capital Foods (logistics), Taste the Local Difference (marketing), the GT Foodshed Alliance (innovation), the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Food Security projects, and the Farms, Food & Health conference (health and youth). The level of activity of action groups may depend on what’s happening. For example, the FFN was quite involved in policy as related to the Farm Bill when it was appropriate.

SUMMIT PLANS:   Wed, Feb 24.  This date has been changed.  The Summit will be held on Fri, Feb 26.  Location, to be determined.  Committee:  Amber, Brian, Carol, Heather, Sharron.

It is time, once again, to do more than just report out–to have a big conversation about the work of the FFN with a bunch of people in the room.  We will look for missed opportunities and break out into action areas (the five existing plus education and health) and come up with things that can/need to happen in the next year.  There will be networking over lunch. A new tagline for the FFN might be something like: “We are working together to improve the vitality of the local food system.”  We may ask attendees for a specific commitment and to record that committee on a self-addressed (reminder) postcard to be mailed a few months post-Summit.


TRICIA – Members of task force #1 are: Scott, Steve, Brian Bates, Stephanie, and Colleen.  They will be measuring indirect and direct sales.  Data will likely be trends rather than hard numbers because hard numbers don’t provide the whole picture. They will have aggregated,  not individual, results.

SARAH – (#2) Talked to people from different sectors with different roles in the system.  The results are qualitative–a study of readiness.  To highlight: data is available for Farm to School and 10 Cents a Meal.  Camp Pugsley plus Charlevoix and Leelanau jails are growing their own food. Produce purchased at Munson is resold and not integrated into cafe meals. Childcare is interested but doesn’t know how to do it–shopping at mostly places like Meijer. The senior center in Petoskey is tracking data. There are faith-based community gardens.

WENDY – (#3) For agri-business generation, already being measured is: jobs created / retained, businesses started, increased sales (%), applying vs getting loans, investment capital.  Would like to get FSA, Greenstone, and Northern Initiatives data.  May look at measuring informal places for getting education such as: MSU ag-tech, Grow Benzie, ISLAND.

BRIAN – (#5) Members include Ben Mahlich and Rod Robinson. MAEAP staff will be unable to participate in meetings. New wording for object is:  Northwest Michigan’s farmland will be available and affordable in order to maintain and expand a sustainable business environment for diverse agriculture and food production.  Have decided on these measures:  MAEAP verifications, preserved farmland, farmland trends (including average size, number of acres in production, average selling cost), and crop diversity as compared to the state as a whole.

GRANT UPDATES: Per Brian, Zane Schwaiger is applying to Rotary for a FarmLink program.


Bill reported Taste the Local Difference is partnering with the Goodwill Inn to add food pantries and meal sites to the Taste the Local Difference online database.  This is a direct result of the Kris’ food security report.  It will be tested in our 10-county area with the goal of going statewide.

Sharron reported resources and services for farmers are also being added to the Taste the Local Difference website.  Ads will be sold to service providers.

Carol is on the Great Lakes Culinary Institute (GLCI) advisory council.  She attended a recent meeting which was well attended by area chefs and others.  Don Coe is chair of a new version of Tasters Guild.  It will be known as Taste of Success and focus more on students/scholarships.  Next summer NMC may break ground on a new 300-person dormitory which could possibly be used for affordable housing for summer farm help.  The new GLCI recruiter is looking for events to attend.  Her name is Shannon Freidgen.  Doe Coe also reported that local protein processing is likely to be available within the next 3 years.  GLCI is may offer advanced charcuterie and will look at channeling some students into HACCP planning for processors and restaurants.  ACF Chefs holds monthly meetings and welcomes farmers to attend or put on programs.

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