Workshops and events schedule to discuss local food policy

Local farmers and consultants from Washington to strategize this week

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The pumpkin and winter squash patch of local farmer Ben Wolff. Hard at work is Otis the dog.

UKIAH, 6/26/2017 — Advocates for local food production are teaming up this week with several federal agencies and the City of Ukiah to come up with strategies to increase local food production. Consultants from multiple federal agencies will meet with local non-profit directors and food producers to discuss ways to improve land access, encourage food production, and use unsold produce in recipes for comestibles likes soups or salsa. (Scroll down for times, dates and locations.)

North Coast Opportunities, the Mendocino Food Policy Council, and the City of Ukiah will host the event, which is part of a technical assistance program called Local Foods, Local Places, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Delta Regional Authority.

The pumpkin and winter squash patch of local farmer Ben Wolff. Hard at work is Otis the dog.

Thought the local place in question is Ukiah, the first place the consultants from Washington will visit is the kitchen at the Little Lake Grange in Willits. Scott Cratty, manager of the Ukiah farmers market, explained that one of the items that will be addressed at the workshop is preserving agricultural lands and encouraging food production, particularly on lands devoted to what Cratty referred to as the “dominant monoculture” of local vineyards. He noted that he hopes for “generic help from Washington about better land use overall,” such as how to create permanent agricultural preserves and requiring developers to take certain measures to protect arable land.

Another issue on the agenda is the possibility of starting a community commercial kitchen in Ukiah. “There are all kinds of basic food things that nobody makes in Mendocino,” he said, envisioning a place where farmers market vendors could turn their unsold produce into ingredients for someone else’s product.

The workshops will be held on Wednesday, June 28th from 5:30pm to 8pm at the Alex Rorabaugh Center conference room at 1640 South State Street in Ukiah and Thursday, June 29th from 9am to 4pm at the Community Foundation at 204 South Oak Street in Ukiah. Lunch will be provided on Thursday. Cratty described Wednesday’s event as “a wide-open community forum,” and Thursday’s session as an opportunity “for those who are inclined to really roll up their sleeves and help develop detailed work plans.”

To RSVP or request more detail, interested parties can contact Eva King of the Food Policy Council at [email protected], 860-670-7089  or Scott Cratty at [email protected]

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