FFN Business Meeting Minutes – Jan 20, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.37.18 AMThe Food and Farming Network held its January business meeting at the GT Foodshed Alliance/TLD offices on Wednesday January 20th, 2016. Minutes from the meeting and a full video as recorded from our ZOOM video conferencing system can be found below.


  1. Introductions: Brian Bourdages, Mark Coe, Carol  Danly, Sarah Eichberger, Rick Gleason, Kelly Lively, Sharron May, Meghan McDermott, Bill Palladino, Tricia Phelps, Heather Ratliff, Rod Robinson, Scott Smith, Kris Thomas, Mollie Thomas, Colleen Valko, Wendy Wieland


  • Brian – find link to USDA small/new farmer grants – DONE

USDA Microloan Program

  1. Grant Opportunities/Updates
    1. Taste the Local Difference (TLD) and Groundwork – Building Healthy Communities grant: will be used to add features to the TLD database, work on institutional food procurement (especially schools), and consulting
    2. USDA has a loan program for smaller/new growers and Brian will look for a webpage link
  2. Policy Opportunities/Updates
    1. FFN members are encouraged to reach out to each other and collaborate on policy issues
    2. Farm Bureau – farmer-members with ideas can introduce the ideas at the county level; members take a vote and may advance ideas to the state level, then the national level; it is a great way to impact policy
    3. Senator Debbie Stabenow visited the GT Foodshed Alliance Food Hub last Friday; met with about a dozen individuals from the local food system including three tenants; spoke about food labeling/transparency and working with the food industry; toured the Hub, liked Cultured Ferments’ kombucha!
    4. It’s time to start thinking about the next Food Bill already
  3. Farmer Survey Status
    1. The question, “What is the one thing you would ask a network of people working on increasing the vitality of the local food system to focus on?” will be part of the Small Farms Conference evaluation.
    2. Mark and Rick took some of the survey cards to give out/collect input from farmers
  4. Opt In – Reminder/Reasoning
    1. FFN email list is too large and some people are wondering way they are “members”
    2. Be sure to opt-in to continue getting communications from FFN; there will be multiple reminders between now and end of June
    3. Currently 105 have opted-in
  5. Chapman Award Nominations – Send to foodandfarmingnetwork@gmail.com by 1/27
  6. Summit Plans – Carol will be sending out email with assorted links and a press release; please promote! Also, if you are able, sponsor a farmer.
    1. Full Day Conference – will have updates and brainstorming
    2. Objectives to Action Areas – wording of goals have been distilled to names of five action areas
    3. One – Sheet Presentation – task force leaders will report on measures; we’ll use as starting point and transition to being more focused and taking action
    4. Guest speakers will follow the one-sheet prsentations at the Summit; example: Kris Thomas and a potato farmer who will talk about why he donates to Healthy Harvest (to model generosity for his children, for one thing)
    5. An overview document for the FFN will be next year’s project
  7. Task Force Updates –
    1. Emerging Leadership Team – Heather: measurement task force leaders have been functioning as leadership team for co-leaders to bounce ideas off of; will be making other opportunities for active members to join
    2. Local Food Sales – Tricia:  took farmer pulse survey to measure direct and indirect sales; measured value of direct sales; took business pulse survey to measure purchases of local, raw ag and sales of local food
    3. Farm to Institution – Sarah: used data from Farm to School Census, 10 Cents Per Meal, Cultivate Michigan, Emmet County senior center, Cherry Capital Foods institutional sales, and Leelanau County jail for measurements
    4. Agribusiness Generation – Wendy: measuring business starts ups and growth, jobs created, and capital invested
    5. Farmland Resources – Brian: measured Ag Census farmland trends, ag product diversity, protected farmland, and water quality
    6. Food Access – Meghan: using data from TLD to measure food access, from Food Rescue to measure donations, and from Double Up Food Bucks to measure program participation
  8. General Updates
    1. NM Small Farm Conference / Farms Food and Health / Farm School – morning session for FFH has sold out; space available for afternoon breakout and for farmer-buyer meet and greet (possibly for just farmers); the entire weekend is a TLD Certified Local Food Event; TLD will have a photo booth available for 1 ½ hours to take professional shots of farmers (one fun, one serious); FFN will host poster session and have presense at Small Farms Conference
    2. Farm To Frame – visit Cherry Capital Foods upstairs to enjoy the exhibit
    3. Others…
      • Mark Coe – Farm to Freezer is introducing organic; has vegetables and is in need of fruits
      • Meghan – Pew Research Center and FoodCorps are partnering to bring FoodCorps alumni to Washington DC for lobbying school; for the February session Kelly, Sarah, and Mark plus Brandon Seng will be accompanying her
      • Kelly – Was watching the Ag Committee in D.C. just before meeting; agreement was reached; the whole grain standards will be scaled back, stricter standards on sodium are delayed, fruits and vegetables standards are preserved
      • Rick – Stop by the Farm Bureau booth at the Small Farm Conference and introduce yourself to the Leelanau and Grand Traverse Board members there
      • Colleen – Tamarack Holdings was formed to coordination direction of Chip Hoagland’s companies, including Cherry Capital Foods, Earthy Delights, TLC Hydroponic; Brian is also with Tamarack and working on foraged foods certification starting with ramps (he would like to know about people who forage)
      • Carol – FFN will be screening Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food at six locations in March and April including: Dennos Museum Center (3/10), Kalkaska, Petoskey, Cadillac, Suttons Bay, and maybe Manistee; details will be forthcoming


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