After about 20 gorged on a local foods potluck supper April 29 at Batesville’s Big Four Café, another 10 streamed in to provide input for the Rebuilding Your Local Food System Program Pilot.
Just two entities, the southeastern Indiana region and an Elkhart County group, were chosen for the year-long project organized by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service.
Kathy Cooley, Food and Growers Association of Laughery Valley and Environs past president and one of six core group members leading the project here, noted, “Our main goal is just to find out what everybody wants and how to increase local production and accessibility.” The Margaret Mary Health dietitian said her employer “is completely dedicated to the local foods movement,” which benefits the community’s physical and economic health.
During annual growers seminars, FGA leaders realized, “to improve … we had to start getting the local foods into institutions.” They are exploring the possibility of an aggregate site, where local produce and meats can be stored, then transported to, say, area schools, the hospital and other locations.
The core team is meeting with two Purdue experts monthly. At the first meeting on asset building, “we identified all of the producers, distributors and markets in the area that could feed into a local food supply. We were thrilled with the turnout.” After that came producer, market and distributors meetings. “This is the consumer meeting. What do you need? What do you want? How do you want to help?”
Chiropractor Dr. Chris Ault, Batesville, likes the farmers’ market and weekly Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes of crops. “I’m about natural health and prevention.” According to FGA board member Deanna Hookway, Batesville, “We are just now at home starting to grow our own food. I think we’re going to have fun doing it.” At Kroger, she tries to buy organic products.