Food and Farming Theme

A resilient food/farming system is decentralized, with a diversity of sources and a regional distrubution network. It is based on the natural ecological cycles, utilizing such things as efficient food storage and hoop houses to extend the season of local availability, instead of expecting all foods to be available all year round. The feedback loops would be tighter, so that food production and harvests can be adjusted more quickly to changes in weather, demand, the occurance of pest invasions and other unpredictible occurances. It offers more local control and input on the importance of preserving farmlnad, wetlands, flow of rivers, protecting the soil and other ecological considerations.

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Consumer Demand will Determine The Balance

Josh Wunsch and Dave BarronsJosh Wunsch is in on this discussion. Josh is a local fruit grower and experienced agricultural manager with clear views on agricultural trends.  Localism is all well and good, says Josh, but their are 330 million mouths to feed each day. The demand of that, alone, will play into the balance between a fragile, corporate sized food system and a more resilient localized food system.  How far localism goes will be determined by how much 'locals' are willing to pay for more local food and how deeply they support the development of markets. Farmers don't produce into a vacuum. They produce for a viable market that can sustainability pay them to produce.

Localism and Prosperity on the Farm

ICR travels to the Farm Route To Prosperity Summit, the fourth annual event held recently in Traverse City. The summit is a networking conference for farm and food business specialists from NW Michigan offering the chance to look ahead at the changing economics of food production and the development of local food systems.  The Michigan Good Food Charter, farm land protection, and farm financing are just a few of the topics in this selection of comments and presentations from the summit.  The development of regional food hubs was a main focus of the speakers and some important follow-up discussions. Resilience is a term we heard multiple times at this conference.

A Shining Example

In this week's program Jan Shireman and Gerard Grabowski join us to tell their story of a business that is a shining example of the all-local, farm to business to consumer economic model so important to building local food resilience. These two created Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery nearly two decades ago in search of a locally made, healthy bread and in the process became national leaders in the artisan bread movement. Pleasanton Bakery today employs nearly a dozen people in direct bakery jobs. Learn what makes their bread so different. Jan and Gerard share their dream of local sustainable agriculture and of ag-to-consumer businesses to support locally grown food. Only one of the grains they currently use comes from outside of Michigan, but the rest is grown on downstate farms. Gerard argues that northern Michigan needs to grow much more grain for local use, and develop its own milling facilities to turn the grains into flour.

Good Food, Fair Food, and Resilience

Our discussion welcomes Dr. Oran Hesterman, founder and CEO of the Fair Food Network which focuses, nationally, on developing the mechanisms to bring local food, healthy food, and food that is fair to producer and buyer to the operating marketplace. Hesterman was instrumental in development of Michigan's Good Food Charter and the emerging Double Up Food Bucks program where Michigan leads the way, and Northwest Michigan joins the move this summer. A number of farmer's markets will be accepting Bridge cards for healthy local food purchases of locally grown foods, keeping local dollars local. Hesterman emphasizes that the local food movement must be developing at the bottom, like Double Up Food Bucks but their must be constant effort to update and modernize public policy effecting food. Look for Dr. Hesterman's latest book Fair Food 

Local Food Effort Starts New Programs

Diane Conners rejoins Outside In for further updates on the local food movement in NW Michigan. She is joined by her colleague from the Michigan Land Use Institute, Janice Benson. Both work in leadership positions developing our local food economy and each talks about new programs being launched this spring season.  Double Up Food Bucks and the Spend Ten Campaign have multiple goals: to increase local food consumption and to increase consumption of healthier foods by those with more limited resources who often get locked into buying cheaper less healthy food.  Both women emphasized the integration and networking of multiple public agencies and organizations in developing these programs and their local, 'grassroots' origins, building resilience through increased diversity of food choices and increased social capital.

Jim Sluyter, MLUI, joins Dave with more on Food & Farming

This week's discussion continues from last week, talking about food and the localizing of our food production and supply system and consumption patterns. Localizing the food economy is critical to local resilience. Jim and Dave talk about the fragile food system is now, and how many different advances are going on, to localize Northern Michigan's agriculture. Jim details the Food and Farming Network, Taste the Local Difference, and the Michigan Good Food Charter. The talk also covers the need for improvements in the agriculture financing sector and the continuing need to grow the involvement of more and more components of  local food distribution and consumer sales.

Seth Bernard & May Erlewine join Dave Barrons

Outside In, this week, continues the discussion of the Run Across Ethiopia, a fund raising project of On The Ground, a non profit associated with Higher Grounds Trading Company. Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, local musicians and song writers, journeyed to Ethiopia with the On The Ground runners as part of the artistic team recording the event. They begin the show with two of the many songs written about the project and then stick around to share their experiences, connecting with the coffee growing families whose children are benefitting from the 3 schools the project is funding.  Seth and May talk about their art and its roll in telling the story of The Run Across Ethiopia and the importance of this local to local connection.

Chris Treter joins Dave Barrons

This week Outside In begins two discussions on a project conducted by a local, small business, Higher Grounds Trading Company. Higher Grounds is a free-trade coffee company that engages in local-to-local support of the coffee producing regions where its shade grow coffee supplies originate. An earlier project focused on clean water supplies for Mexican villages in Chiapas. Most recently Higher Grounds and its spin-off non-profit, On The Ground, conducted the Run Across Ethiopia a fund raiser for construction of three schools in south central Ethiopia. Chris Treter discusses "why Ethiopia?" Why provide support for a land so far away when there are needs closer to home? Treter explains his business and personal goals and why supporting the people who produce our coffee, thousands of mile away, is really a 'local' project.

Patty Cantrell joins Dave Barrons

The discussion turns to localizing our food economy for two shows. This week Patty Cantrell, longtime community organizer and local food economist joins Dave for a broad based discussion about the 'local food movement' which taking p[lace across the country. Patty identifies the components and benefits of a local-food economic system compared the global supply model which grows more and more fragile every year. She emphasizes the need for networking all of the local components to really develop strength in a local food system: production, supply and marketing chains, and consumption. While there is much progress locally and nationally in the local food movement, Cantrell emphasizes the need for continued education and network building.