Author: Dana Martin

Publish Date: Summer 2010

The Central Oregon Food Network website has officially launched, providing local farmers and ranchers an opportunity to connect, share resources and discuss pertinent issues. The website found at http://centraloregonfoodnetwork.com/ provides a producer’s directory which features nearly 40 farms and ranches in Central Oregon. A list of 10 local restaurants and retailers are also listed due to their support of local food production and consumption.

A “Current Features” section highlights timely articles to help keep producers informed. Through “Network Now” people can post announcements or make a plea for something they need. Kim Kambak of The Last Stand Farm in Prineville made the most of this tool when she put out her request. “Mother got my last tomato starts. Does anyone have extras? At this point, any red, fruity thing will be acceptable,” writes Kim.

 The website offers a discussion forum where farmers and ranchers can submit questions and share their knowledge about growing techniques and other subjects such as alternative fuel, working with worms and growing exotic grains. A section on “Grants and Funding Opportunities” will also assist producers.

The website was developed by Sarahlee Lawrence of Rainshadow Organics in Terrebonne. Sarahlee received a $15,000 Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer/Rancher Research & Education grant. SARE is a USDA competitive grants program that supports agricultural systems that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible. Dana Martin of OSU Extension Service and Katrina Van Dis of Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council assisted on this grant.

A public website launch celebration was recently held where Central Oregon farmers and ranchers gathered to show their support and enthusiasm for the website. Sarahlee is pleased with the results and anxious for people to make the most of it. “I hope the website really works in connecting our local farmers and ranchers,” she says noting that the Central Oregon Food Network website can be used for collaboration on buying seeds, marketing produce and much more. “If we all use it, I think it will help everyone be more successful.”