Increasing locally grown food will require adding growers; learn more Nov. 5-7

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A salad bowl of locally grown produce would require a huge increase in production just to reach the 20 percent goal set by a task force for 2030.

A salad bowl of locally grown produce would require a huge increase in production just to reach the 20 percent goal set by a task force for 2030.

As individuals and as a community, the choices we make about the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of our food impacts our health.

“The changing food system has not always provided what is needed for healthy people, healthy environments, or a healthy economy,” observes Dr. Pam Duitsman nutrition and health specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Can American farmers grow enough produce locally to meet demand? It will take a huge increase in production.

Can Ozarks farmers grow enough produce locally to meet goals set in 2014? It will take a huge increase in production just to meet the goal of 20 percent by 2030.

In response to food system needs in southwest Missouri, the Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council (ORFPC) released its 20-county Regional Food Systems assessment: “Good Food Matters: Cultivating a Healthy Southwest Missouri” in the fall of 2014. Based on that assessment, the ORFPC set a goal that 20 percent of all food consumed in southwest Missouri would be produced locally by 2030.

To be sure, there are miles and miles to go if the Ozarks is the achieve this goal.

“Currently 1.6 percent is locally produced. More local food must be produced to reach this goal, and many new farmers and ranchers will be required to meet the demand for local food,” says Duitsman.

The results of the ORFPC assessment identified a particular need to strengthen the ability of local farmers to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand for local food. These institutions offer dependable markets for higher volumes of local products.

“To scale up local and regional food, organizational and production capacity needs to be developed across the regional food system,” explains Duitsman. “However, systemic barriers to making this work are complex and involve multiple partners of the food system.”

The 2014 ORFPC assessment revealed that both producers and wholesale buyers in the Ozarks report key challenges in managing transportation, marketing, and distribution of local food products to satisfy larger markets.

Registration details

To address these bottlenecks, provide possible solutions, and encourage greater communication and coordination of efforts, University of Missouri Extension and Lincoln University Cooperative Extension will be offering a three-day series of workshops Nov. 5-7, at the Springfield Botanical Center, 2400 Scenic Ave., Springfield.

The first day of “Scaling Up to Meet the Demand for Local Food” will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 5. Day two is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 , with the program on the last day being from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 7.

The last two days of the program are geared toward farmers and will include an “Introduction to GAPS” and “Preparing the Farm Food Safety Plan.”

Participants may register for the full program for $70 per person, or $40 for the Friday and Saturday farmer-focused session. Complete program information and tickets are available online at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene. Registration can also be completed by contacting Clarissa Hatley at the Greene County Extension Center by telephone 417-881-8909 or email hatleyc@missouri.edu.

The program is sponsored by University of Missouri Extension, Lincoln University Cooperative Extension, the Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks, Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council, Missouri Ozarks Veterans’ Agriculture, Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and Good Natured Family Farms.

For more information on this or related programs, contact Dr. Pam Duitsman at the Greene County Extension Center in Springfield by telephone at (417) 881-8909 or by email at duitsmanp@missouri.edu.

Program Impact

Several presenters at the conference will share their encouraging and successful stories of bringing local food and products from area farms into schools, colleges, hospitals, and other institutions.

“Institutional markets offer stable year-round markets for high volumes of local food. This offers great potential for impacting the health of children, seniors, and other residents while also providing models for food purchasing practices, and creating economic opportunities for farmers and food businesses,” said Duitsman.

Expected outcomes of the Seeds of Prosperity Workshops include: a more prepared workforce in the area of sustainable growing techniques to obtain maximum yield; higher farm profits; an increased availability of fresh, locally grown foods; and greater health and economic benefits for Missouri communities.

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