The Environmental Center will host a launch party for the network’s website that will connect Central Oregonians to local food producers
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 firstname.lastname@example.org