Author: Robin Maille, OSU Extension Service, Family & Community Health, Union & Baker Counties
Publish Date: Fall 2017
Tess Krampien started her AmeriCorps RARE position in September 2016. Tess established a home base at OSU Extension and then began exploring all aspects of the food system in Union & Baker Counties. The CFA is a community-based data gathering process that combines social science research methods and community organizing strategies. Tess met with producers and processors who grow and sell a range of products from vegetables to chickens, milk goats, barley malt, and a variety of meat products. She interviewed 53 people and surveyed restaurant owners, school food personnel, farmer’s market managers, public health officials, food bank managers, market owners and other community members. One highly effective technique used to gather information is to coordinate FEAST (Food Education Agriculture Solutions Together) events. FEAST is a community organizing process that brings together a variety of stakeholders and local food system experts to identify food system priorities and create a community food action plan. FEASTs facilitated by OFB and organized by community partners, were held in both Union & Baker counties and brought together about 60 people in all to discuss food system concerns.
The information gathered from the above activities identified key opportunities and resources within the community. As a result of the CFA and community partnerships that were developed several new activities are underway. Oregon Rural Action has set up a working group to explore developing a community kitchen and supporting cooking education opportunities. Two Cooking Matters for Adults programs will be offered this year in La Grande--the first for college students, and the second for parents of students participating in the Friday Backpack Program. Grants from Oregon Food Bank (OFB) and the First Presbyterian Church will help fund these classes. The Union County Local Community Advisory Council is exploring the possibility of implementing Veggie Rx program with the local hospital and clinics. In addition both communities are interested in developing gleaning programs to increase the availability of fruits and vegetables in the fall.
• Identify and promote community food system leadership in both counties
• Develop resources that facilitate information sharing
• Develop more market opportunities for local producers
• Support new and existing producers through access to farmland and loans, and opportunities to develop business and succession plans
• Increase access to local food at local markets
• Promote consumer support for local agriculture and local foods consumption
• Increase the capacity of the regional food bank and food pantries to store and distribute local products
• Improve access to healthy food and education on health and nutrition.
Guided by the CFA OSU Extension will continue to work with partners to provide leadership for community food system work. The CFA is a valuable tool that documents our current production and marketing systems, thus providing much-needed insights into the goals, opportunities, and challenges of local farm businesses, farmers markets, and healthy food programs.