2001 Annual Report for LNC00-165
Nebraska Community Food Network
Through the first year of meetings, discussions, farm tours, and special events, interest toward the development of a farmer/consumer network for sustainable agriculture food products appears strong. Many participants have posed questions as to how a network can be established and coordinated. First deliveries to consumers, farm tours, and institutions showed positive responses from those involved and sales of extra products were a result. Continued repeat sales are an area of challenge and will increase interest to producers and consumers.
It was our objective to establish and support a network of food system participants, farmers, business owners, consumers, and others to create a local infrastructure for marketing sustainable agriculture products. Meetings of network members have been held to determine the parameters of the regional marketing and networking area. A database of local and regional participants has been developed as well as the list of regionally grown, mostly sustainable foods.
We intended to develop, test, and evaluate a model for marketing and distributing local foods. During year one, we delivered local, sustainable foods to events over a four-week time period.
We intended to build public awareness of the environmental, economic, and social benefits of regional food systems. Network members were exposed to media training and have established ways to promote sustainable agriculture and local food systems to the public.
It was determined that the Nebraska Community Food Network would generally work in a 150 mile radius centered in Lincoln, Nebraska. Food network participants were identified and seasonal and year round food products were made available to four events in year 2001. The Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference and Annual Meeting served as the first event in which local, sustainably grown meats, vegetables, eggs, grain products, etc. were offered with good response. A farm tour was next at Libby Creek Farm CSA where the approximately 45 in attendance were entertained with a wagon ride tour of the farm, local entertainment by two groups of musicians and sustainably grown foods. Everyone ate hearty helpings and was pleased with the taste and variety. A second farm tour was held at Shadowbrook farm with music, sustainably grown foods, goat milking demonstrations, pastured lowline beef, local farm vendor displays, and about 100 people in attendance. The fourth event was in conjunction with a group of 44 Australians on a biological tour of the midwestern U.S., University of Nebraska Center for Applied Rural Innovation, UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UNL International Program Division, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, and Nebraska Cooperative Development Center. Speakers from Australia, Nebraska, and Missouri addressed the group of 90 regarding the challenges and successes of agriculture common to both countries. A sustainably grown, local food lunch and afternoon snacks were served to a receptive audience. Fresh garden tomatoes with salads, goat cheese, and beef hamburgers on whole wheat buns were just part of the tasty entrees receiving good reviews. A tour of Common Good Farm northwest of Lincoln was attended by several Australians and Americans for a late afternoon activity. Purchases of extra products on-hand took place as the Australians were interested in taking items with them on their tour.
Consumer surveys have been distributed, returned, and are currently being evaluated and summarized. We have temporarily lost our network connection with the Sierra Club but feel that the relationship can be re-established. Cris Carusi had originally established the link with Pat Knapp of the Sierra Club and with a change of NSAS executive directors and food network directors, the relationship and connection changed. This occurrence is very similar as to how consumers may move to other products in the marketplace.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
As a result of local, sustainably grown foods being offered, interest was expressed from University of Nebraska faculty, staff, and students for similar food products to be offered in cafeteria food lines, dormitories, and fraternities/sororities. Fresh, local foods can allow the user more time to have good quality product available in their possession. Locally grown foods minimize time spent in transportation as well as freight costs when compared to most other food choices in the larger food system. The University realizes the need to build relationships within the food system and has initiated a project proposal called ‘Supplying Our Local Institutional Demands (SOLID) to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in connection with a Food Systems Higher Education-Community Partnership funding program. This project is to connect local food system development with economics, environmental issues, and health within the context of a global marketplace. This project may allow NSAS and the food network some future assistance in diversifying sales and increasing farm production.
55884 885 Road
Hartington, NE 68739
Office Phone: 4027962636
902 Road 9
York, NE 68467
Office Phone: 4023622630