Local Food Systems
Central Oregon is one of the fastest growing regions in the US. This increase coupled with the shifting socioeconomic demographics has produced a higher demand on regional communities for fresh and locally produced agricultural goods and services. COIC works with a collaborative network to contribute to a sustainable food system. Integrating food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, COIC focuses on supporting locally produced goods.
Our goals in the Local Food Systems Sector are to:
- Improve the local food system economy
- Improve community resiliency
- Preserve the region’s quality of life as a desirable place to live and work
Our role in the community is to:
- Convene, facilitate, coordinate and collaborate with partners
- Identify gaps or needs and prioritize actions
- Develop resources and leverage local, state and federal resources
- Provide technical support and assistance to producers, processors, wholesale and retail distributors
- Research and provide strategic planning
Economic Impact of Local food on the Central Oregon Economy
Local food connects communities with their farmers, ranchers and is a value that is important yet difficult to measure. This report presents finding from a total of 28 farmer and ranchers, or producers, surveyed and details out their earnings and expenditures. Our results show that producers created a total of 28 full and part-time jobs and generated $1.5 million in sales, with $248,000 in wages and salaries on their farm operations.
The study also estimated the potential growth in the economy by modeling three scenarios: 1) increasing current production; 2) establishing a food hub; and 3) shifting grocery store purchases of vegetables to locally grown from farmers.
Overall, the report demonstrates that local food producers have an important role in our economy, and that with minor shifts in overall production there could be additional jobs and revenue throughout the region.
Developing a Food Hub
Funded by USDA Rural Development Rural Business Development Grant and The Ford Family Foundation
Given Central Oregon’s geographic isolation from urban market centers, farmers struggle with scaling up to provide enough volume of food for the region. Obstacles to entering the wholesale value chain, which were identified in the regional Food Hub Feasibility and Value Chain study (2012 & 2015) are lack of infrastructure to transport, aggregate, store and process food products, which limits providing fresh local food to retail locations, low-income residents and local food banks.
The purpose of this project is to strengthen and stabilize the ability of the local agricultural sector to provide fresh healthy food and provide opportunities for value added food businesses to continue developing a robust value chain, thereby increasing procurement of local food and food system resiliency.
COIC partnered with a private sector distributor to develop a five-year business plan and operations model.
Enhancing the Wholesale Marketplace and Access to Specialty Crops
Funded by USDA Local Food Promotion Program Grant and ODA Specialty Crop Block Grant: The purpose of these projects were to enhance the wholesale marketplace to improve access to and production of locally produced agriculture products. This includes:
- Conducted an economic impact analysis and producer need assessment with OSU and the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance to understand the farming landscape
- Provided direct technical assistance to farmers including grants to improve and workshops about food safety
- Improved institutional buying and infrastructure investment
- Provided support for Crook and Jefferson County on-farm events
- Developed a local food challenge
Farm to School
Funded by USDA Farm to School: COIC worked with Sisters, Redmond and Crook County school districts (20 schools) and the tribal community of Warm Springs to improve institutional procurement and support existing farm-to-school and farm-to-garden projects. This included hiring a FoodCorps service member to teach classroom and garden curriculum within the Sisters school district, support in-class and after school activities with OSU Extension at the Warm Springs Academy and develop a Food Fair for Redmond school district. This project impacted on over 12,600 students, their parents and the agricultural community.
Growing the Market for Specialty Crop and Value-Added Producers
Funded by Oregon Department of Agriculture: COIC worked in collaboration with Wy’East RC&D, OSU Extension Service and Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District to provide farm management workshops focused on marketing, production, fiscal and business operations and a Food Summit II (fall 2014). This project expanded the Food & Farm Directory and regional marketing campaign, and provided marketing materials to farmers, as well as technical assistance training and networking opportunities with food businesses.
Development of the Local Food Value Chain
Funded by Rural Development Initiatives: COIC and the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance assessed the local food value chain and explored opportunities to build out and fill infrastructure gaps within the chain. This also include a supply and demand study to understand the flow of wholesale food within the region.
Cultivating Local Food Projects in Central Oregon
Funded by Meyer Memorial Trust: COIC provided community gardens and season extender grants, improved food skills education opportunities at community gardens; increased transportation and distribution options for local food, developed a Farm Share program where disadvantaged families had access to local food through a discounted CSA, and established a regional marketing campaign, Buy Fresh Buy Local. An outcome of the project was a partnership with the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance and the creation of the Central Oregon Food & Farm Directory as a community resource for individuals and businesses to buy and sell locally grown and made food products in Central Oregon.
Central Oregon Food Hub and Development Project
Funded by USDA Rural Development and Farmers Market Promotion Program: COIC developed an outline for the Central Oregon Food Hub project in conjunction with regional partners including a public/private partnership model to increase direct markets and access for Central Oregon farmers and residents, particularly low-income. Download the Central Oregon Food Hub Feasibility Study.
Farmers Market Accepting Oregon Trail and Debit Cards
Funded by USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program COIC helped to promote and create sustainable farmers markets in the Central Oregon by increasing consumer and farmer participation in farmers markets; expanding access to markets by providing machines that process SNAP benefits; and an overall marketing campaign.
Food Hub Feasibility Study
Funded by USDA Rural Development: COIC conducted a study was to assess the capacity of the region to support a local food hub – defined as a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and marketing of regionally produced food products. A food hub in our region could provide the following systems: aggregation of food products to be delivered to restaurants or grocers; cold/freezer storage for bulk meats for Community Supported Agriculture; and centralized location for pick-up and drop off delivery system. These systems will narrow the gaps in the flow of food from the source to the consumer.
Download the Central Oregon Food Hub Feasibility Study
Meat Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Feasibility Study
Funded by USDA Rural Development: Production of agricultural products for value-added products in niche markets is new for Central Oregon. With limited infrastructure and access to the urban marketplace, producers are determining their options for accessing new markets. COIC partnered with OSU Extension Service and a fifth-generation rancher to analyze the feasibility of developing a meat CSA in Central Oregon, along with the possibility of expanding and cooperating with multiple ranches. This study found that marketing beef through a CSA or a Buying Club is feasible and profitable. Download the Meat CSA Study
Central Oregon Community Food Assessment
The Central Oregon Community Food Assessment, Pioneering a Local Food System in Central Oregon, an initiative of Wy’East Resource Conservation & Development in partnership with COIC, NeighborImpact, and OSU Extension Service was completed in 2010. This study documented food, farm and nutrition issues to inform future change actions towards increased food security. This effort was coordinated throughout Central Oregon with consumers, farmers, low-income individuals, planners, food businesses and institutions, governmental, private and non-profit organizations. Through this collaborative process we incorporated every sector of the food industry. Download the Study
Central Oregon Community Garden Manual
This resource provides a list of community gardens; planting, growing and harvesting food; and other valuable resources including fundraising opportunities. Click here to be transported to the Manual
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