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The new Central Oregon Food Network is working toward a more sustainable community

The Environmental Center will host a launch party for the network’s website that will connect Central Oregonians to local food producers

Irene Cooper

The Broadside

Sarahlee Lawrence probably doesn’t consider her farm, Rainshad­ow Organics, located between Terre­bonne and Sisters, to be the center of the universe. However, a new website created by Lawrence, Central Oregon Food Network, may become just that for the local food community.

The Environmental Center will host a website launch party Saturday, June 5, kicking off Central Oregon Food Net­work’s mission to bring together local producers and consumers– farmers, ranchers, victory gardeners and every­one and anyone with an interest in the local food economy.

Lawrence started creating the site after receiving a grant from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. Western SARE, a division of the US Department of Agriculture, offers competitive grants for farmers and ranchers for research and educa­tion and personal development, with the goal of “advancing farm and ranch systems that are profitable, environ­mentally sound, and good for commu­nities,” according to its website.

An example of SARE’s influence in Oregon was a 2007 grant for $183,271. for the enhancement of pollination by native bees for Oregon berry cultivation. Another example was last year’s grant to fund the Cen­tral Oregon Food Network website, a one-year financial commitment.

Dana Martin and Katrina Vandis of Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council jumped in to help Lawrence write the grant proposal and offer ad­vice and assistance. Lawrence also took a class at Central Oregon Com­munity College to facilitate building the site. Fellow farmer and friend Jim Field has been on hand for events and to share experiences.

“Jim has been a wonderful men­tor,” said Lawrence.

The website itself will serve as an online gathering place and information hub, offering a calendar of events, a discussion forum, recipes, nutrition in­formation, and contributed pieces re­garding politics and policies affecting local food production and distribution. Central Oregon Food Network aims to interconnect producers and consum­ers by supplying links to food sources, farmers, ranchers, CSA participants, and restaurants that serve local prod­ucts. Sometimes that means farmers’ phone numbers, if producers are not online themselves.

The website will provide a resource for producers to talk with each other, as well as allow small producers to of­fer the occasional surplus product at wholesale prices to stores and restau­rants, not usually a practice for small farms, but beneficial for everyone.

Lawrence already enjoys intercon­nectedness with other movers and shakers in local food.

Nicole Timm, a native Central Or­egonian, labor and delivery nurse, Healthy Start supporter, and founder of Central Oregon Locavore, is an ac­tive voice for sustainability and the locally-produced food market. Central Oregon Locavore is an online market­place for organic produce, dairy, meat, and more. Field’s Farm and Windy Acres Raw Milk Dairy are two of its suppliers.

“I grew up not realizing how lucky I was,” said Timm, whose mother kept an extensive garden in Bend through­out Timm’s childhood. “It was the ex­ception rather than the rule.”

Timm believes the economy prob­ably has much to do with a return to the victory garden, but organic prod­ucts have an ever-broadening appeal, “from hippies on the Westside to peo­ple on the United Way board,” Timm added.

Central Oregon Locavore refers to itself as a food aggregator, facilitating the distribution of local food, but also helping to navigate federal policies.

Everyone is welcome to join the pot luck celebration at the Environ­mental Center, located at 16 NW Kan­sas in downtown Bend. The festivities will run from noon to 5:00 p.m., with live music and lots of good talk and good food, from right here in Central Oregon.

 

You may contact Irene Cooper at icoo­per@cocc.edu

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1 COMMENT

  1. Everybody must have a companion like Jim. He can swim a mile, bicycle thirty, and however have the vitality to cook up a batch of his famous Grilled Hamburgers for his good friends. Jim realized to cook from his mom and loves nothing a lot more than to check out everyone’s delighted faces as they bite into one thing delightful he’s ready. In particular satisfying soon after a difficult day of body-boarding and browsing are his hamburgers which are seasoned with clean rosemary in the garden and A1 sauce.

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