Local foods: Fastest growing economy, great for Chautauqua County
Chautauqua Region Farm to Table wants to make it easier for more locally grown and raised food to be purchased by local families, visitors, chefs, schools and other institutions. The organization has grown from an informal group to a committed body of individuals who meet with farmers, restaurant owners, grocers and school personnel. These meetings resulted in an action plan to encourage buying local.
With help from a coalition of health and community organizations called the Chautauqua Health Action Team, spearheaded by the Chautauqua County Health Department and Cornell Cooperative Extension, schools are beginning to purchase local vegetables and fruits. A grant provided by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation allowed for dissemination of Farm to School toolkits to 10 schools in 2012 and 2013. Farm to School in Chautauqua County was tried first at two rural schools in 2011 and 2012, and has grown to include interest from over a dozen schools. School administrators are interested in purchasing local foods, adding agriculture to the classroom educational experience, and in creating school gardens.
Recently Chautauqua Region Farm to Table received funding to develop an easy-to-use online database of farmers and artisanal food producers. Funding came from Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play, a NYS initiative to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. This website will be accessible to individuals buying for themselves and their families, to chefs and to larger distributors and institutional buyers. Chautauqua Region Farm to Table is working with the website design team, Urban and Dilworth, to develop the website. The developers expect the site to be online spring 2013.
Chautauqua Region Farm to Table is also promoting three events to bring farmers and consumers together to further strengthen local food connections.
On Sunday, April 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. the Farm Bureau will host “Pride of Chautauqua” at the Chautauqua Suites Meeting & Expo Center in Mayville. This is a family-friendly event featuring demonstrations, activities and food tastings which showcase local foods. For more information contact Chautauqua County Farm Bureau Vice President, Karen Barie at “mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday, April 8, from 4:45 to 7:30 p.m. the 2013 “Farm 2 School Mixer” will be held at Bellinger Hall, Chautauqua Institution. The program will include panel discussions on “Local Food Procurement” and “Beginning a School Garden.” Refreshments and networking opportunities will be available for farmers and cafeteria staff, school personnel and school administrators. RSVP by calling (716)664-9502 ext. 202 or (716)753-4771.
On May 20 from 6 to 8 p.m., the “Farm to Restaurant Mixer” will be held at Webb’s Captain’s Table, 115 West Lake Road in Mayville. Chautauqua Region Farm to Table is sponsoring this event geared towards promoting networking for farmers with restaurant owners and chefs. Other buyers from bed and breakfasts, nursing homes, grocery stores and other institutions are welcome to come and explore Chautauqua County’s bounty. Wine will be provided by Johnson Estate Winery and hors d’oeuvres by Webb’s Captain’s Table. RSVP not necessary, but appreciated, to Jennifer Johnson at email@example.com.