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Program Post: Capacity, Demand, Connections

Appalachian Grown

Each Thursday, ASAP’s programs take you behind the scenes of their work. This month, our programs share an insider’s look back at 2013 and ahead to the new year: The Local Food Campaign talks sticking to their BIG mission.

From ASAP’s Local Food Campaign

In 2013, the Local Food Campaign continued much of our work, while also evolving our approach to meet the specific needs of our communities. Just what do we do at ASAP? We build capacity (of area farms and food businesses), drive demand (for the products of local farmers and food producers), and make connections (between farmers/producers and food buyers). Phew! Those are big, broad categories, but they do really capture what we’re all about, and they’re the elements at the core of supporting a strong farm economy. Here are a few ways we tackle these goals:

Build Capacity

  • Our annual Business of Farming Conference (register now for 2014!) has been a constant for us. This year marked the event’s 10th anniversary, and it sold out in record time. Workshops help farmers build the skills they need to make their businesses financially sustainable.
  • We responded to the changing needs of farmers markets this year, offering training and one-on-one support around things like SNAP/EBT resources.

Drive Demand

  • The term “local” is losing its meaning thanks to savvy marketers. So, to us, driving demand involves challenging all of you to define the term for yourselves and then offering you the opportunity to easily find authentically local products from the Southern Appalachians. Our Appalachian Grown certification continues to expand as a tool for farmers to reclaim “local” and as a tool for shoppers to demand food from right here. We offer farmers a variety of Appalachian Grown promotional materials to clearly identify local food in the marketplace, including new branded wax boxes!

Make Connections

  • This year, we printed the 12th edition of our Local Food Guide so that you can connect with local food in our region. And, we printed our Wholesale Local Food Guide (previously the Mixing Bowl) to connect farmers and food buyers.
  • We hosted our annual Farm Tour and CSA fairs so that you can deepen your personal relationships with food and farms.
  • And, we connected produce distributors and food buyers from schools, hospitals, and other institutions at an on-farm meet and greet.

Rather than trying to come up with the next big thing in 2014, we’re going to stick with these important goals we already have in place. Being effective agents of change means staying grounded in our mission. Of course, we’ll constantly examine our work, ensuring we’re doing all we can to meet the needs of farmers and communities!

 

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