Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) | Farmers Market Coalition

Some extremely important advocacy has been done by NSAC and FMC on the need for more edits to the FSMA in order for family farms and small business producers to be able to survive and thrive. Their recommendations include needed edits to the rules for farmers markets to be able to manage risk and yet to be allowed to encourage innovation to happen. Please read their updates and analysis on the FSMA and get your comments in by December 15.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) | Farmers Market Coalition.

Food Systems for Healthy Places

Great post by Dr. Morales on some of his current project work, including his perspective on the Indicators for Impacts AFRI-funded project that we both are working on through 2016.
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Food Systems for Healthy Places | BEPHC | Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA.

Echoing Green Fellowship

Successful applicants not only present an innovative way of addressing social issues, but also explain why they as individuals have what it takes to succeed. Echoing Green is not a grant-making organization. We are a fellowship program because we believe in the importance of the individual social entrepreneur as well as his/her project. As such, we look at both the applicant and the applicant’s idea.

A successful applicant to the Echoing Green Fellowship not only presents an innovative way of addressing a social issue but also explains why they have what it takes to create change. Download our Selection Criteria Guide and visit echoinggreen.org/apply to learn more about what we look for when we review applications.

Remember, the 2015 Echoing Green Fellowship application opens on Tuesday, December 2, 2014! Make sure you’re ready: download our Short Answer Question Help Guide to start preparing your answers now.

A bittersweet thanks from a market vendor

One of the great market bakers over the last many years in New Orleans wrote the letter below telling of his decision to leave the Tuesday market in New Orleans to his customers via Facebook and his website. He is an extremely creative and dedicated artisan and one with diversified marketing and product ideas. Unfortunately in his estimation, the potential for sales are diminishing, especially at the weekday markets. That view is not his alone; it is shared by other vendors. This is the first comment after his Facebook post and happened to be from another past market baker: “This is sad to hear for me because this is why I had to stop being a farmer’s market baker full time 5 years ago. I miss my CCFM family and wish everyone the best.”

When markets go through this, it can be a painful and messy break up or it can be a mature parting with lessons learned for all. Everyone has to agree to be careful with their language (spoken, written and body) and to be intentionally fair as the weeks and months go on.

I think this letter does a great job not to assign any blame and offers some good starting points for talking this through with shoppers, other vendors and the staff of the market organization. This is a volatile time for markets in New Orleans and the small businesses contained within feel the brunt of that ebb and flow.  I also well remember the pressure of being a market organizer, remembering every minute that good men and women and their families and employees rely on your estimations of the numbers of happy return shoppers, where to find inquisitive new shoppers, devising events that work and don’t detract from sales, outreach and marketing dollars spent well, locations remaining stable, partnerships adding value and so on while trying to calm fears and add excitement among the vendors while you do it.

As a market advocate and a member of this community, I worry along with all of them and show up at every market and event that I can and share information freely to help everyone move forward. Because our purpose in building a community food system is to offer new opportunities that offer sustained value and multiple types of benefits along every step of the chain, and honor the producers who are building this on their backs and with their many talents, supported by the hard work and talent of market and other food system organizers. Let’s all keep momentum moving forward to reduce the quantity of these type of letters.

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25 November 2014

Dear Farmers Market Customers:

It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing our departure from Tuesday’s Crescent City Farmers Market (CCFM). Due to a sustained erosion of sales over the course of the past eights months, and to the unpredictably of future markets, we are forced to withdraw our booth from this cherished market. Our last TUESDAY market will be the 25th of November.

Although Bellegarde Bakery, in its original gestation as “Babcia Kubiak’s Breads”, began at CCFM five years ago, we have found that the current status of public markets in New Orleans is extremely volatile. There is an overwhelming consensus among vendors at CCFM that “business is not what it used to be”: due to the nature of Bellegarde’s craft, and our commitment to quality, we do not have a “product” which we can freeze, store, or transfer once market is over. We make fresh bread, day in and day out, in heat and in cold, on weekends and on holidays, so that our customers can understand the integrity of fresh food.

We are extremely vulnerable—physically and financially—to capricious weather, shopping habits, and other food ‘trends’ that degrade the quality and consistency of farmers markets. Vendors at farmers markets are at the bottom of the proverbial food chain: we do all the sowing and receive little of the harvest. The current food economy of America is such that money, respect, and stability trickle down from celebrity chefs, supermarkets, and restaurants to the bottom of the pool—fishermen, beekeepers, bakers, farmers: the people that actually make food have trouble making a living at their primary venue of sales: the farmers market. Without any institutional or municipal support through grants, press, mentorship, or subsidy, we vendors suffer the modern whims of that most basic human gesture: the eating and sharing food.

By the vendors, for the vendors: it’s a motto we still live by. We have an implacable commitment to rebuilding the edible architecture of New Orleans through grains and breads. We will remain at our SATURDAY booth and you can find us in a litany of retail locations—from Rouses and Whole Foods to St James Cheese and Faubourg Wines. Please follow the “retail” tab on our website, bellegardebakery.com, or call the shop with any questions about where to find our bread. Thank you, sincerely, for your continued support and faith.

Project for Public Spaces | Apply Now for Free Technical Assistance

Is your community working to become more livable and sustainable? Are you running into barriers in achieving these goals?

Project for Public Spaces is excited to announce free technical assistance (through January 9, 2015) to address these challenges. Livability Solutions partners, which include the nation’s leading experts in creating sustainable communities, will lead one- and two-day targeted workshops in communities around the U.S. Communities will learn how to use PPS’ tools or workshop approaches, such as walkability audits, green infrastructure valuation guides, shared use agreements, and community image surveys, that can help achieve goals of enhancing livability, creating lasting economic and environmental improvements, and improving residents’ public and social health. A short report will be prepared for each community following the technical assistance. Eight to ten communities will be selected to receive technical assistance this year.Link to application and more information.

Canadian measurement of local food impact

Received a great report this week from Community Food Centres Canada. These folks “provide resources and a proven approach to partner organizations across Canada to create Community Food Centres that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food.”
Their report has loads of information, including some clear metrics with some of the social (I.e. added connections, added trust) and human benefits (I.e. knowledge gained) as well as metrics for gauging the effectiveness of their projects for the communities that they serve.

+ 93% of community members surveyed report that Community Food Centres are an important source of healthy food.

+ 88% of food skills program participants have increased confidence in making healthy food choices.

+ 90% of food skills program participants report improvements in their mental health.

+ 91% of parents of children in After School Programs say their children showed increased confidence in the kitchen after having participated in the program.

+ 88% of community members surveyed report that they’ve made a new friend since they’ve come to their Community Food Centre.

Download their report here

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