Community FARE working to support sustainable agriculture and local food

You may have seen the article in the Frederick News Post this morning, entitled “Getting Happy with Local Food” (link and excerpts below), and largely about the work of Community FARE. (The “FARE” stands for “Food-Advocacy-Resources-Education.”)

Community FARE has been working to learn more about small to mid size farm operations in Frederick and neighboring counties – to find out who is interested in selling their product wholesale to larger markets in our region.

mike250This morning I paid a visit to Michael Snyder, owner and operator of Willow Creek Manor Farming LLC, a 230+ acre (partially) organic farm in New Windsor, Carroll County. He currently grows organic vegetables on 30 acres and has another 85 acres of so that he intends to cultivate for vegetables.

Mike grew up on a family farm in northwestern Pennsylvania, and has owned his farm in Maryland for six years. Until recently he sold to neighbors and friends but as he set his sights on selling wholesale to larger markets he participated in the Beginning Farmer Training Program with Future Harvest CASA to better prepare for doing so.

Last Fall Community FARE linked Mike with Wegmans produce buyer, and this Spring he will expand acreage to grow some of what the retailer needs. “I prefer to sell large quantities of organic than small at a farmer’s market. It’s practically the same amount of time and labor…and you get a lot more good food to the market place”, says Mike.

Check out the article (or excerpts) below, and the links to Community FARE, Willow Creek Manor Farming and more below.


communityFAREhappyhour

Frederick News Post
Getting happy for local food
January 28, 2016
By Zoë Brittain

EXCERPT: Members of Community FARE, a nonprofit established to promote sustainable food production in our region and bring healthy food to local markets, organized the get-together as a next step in its quest to create a local food hub. The happy hour attendees met at the bistro to hear Tony Brusco and his wife, Abby, talk about their local food CSA Hometown Harvest, a successful small farm business in Frederick County.

A local or regional food hub, as stated by the National Good Food Network website, “is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.”

Essentially, a food hub acts as a bridge between the supply side and the demand side of the local food equation. Richard Jefferies, an advisory board member of Community FARE, said, “Demand is not the problem. We have identified many institutional and retail buyers in Frederick County who have expressed a growing demand for local food. Our challenge is to support the small to mid-sized farmers to scale up, grow sustainably grown food to meet this demand. Farmers generally don’t have time to develop new markets, and the demand side doesn’t have the capacity to manage hundreds of farmer relationships. The food hub can be the interface that brings those two worlds together.”

AND: The long-term health and economic prosperity of Frederick’s farming communities may be the greatest challenge we face in crafting ‘Livable Frederick.’ That is not to say that land use, transportation, housing and energy aren’t significant issues, but the conversion of low-profit farming into economically successful agricultural operations and sustainable farming communities is by far the biggest sustainability challenge facing Frederick County through the mid-century,” Whitaker said.

Data from a 2014 survey of local farmers and ranchers conducted by Community FARE reflected that 52 percent of respondents made just 25 percent of their living from their farms. When asked what one thing would be most valuable in making their farm operation more profitable, 47 percent answered “marketing,” meaning all the steps involved in getting their goods to consumers.

Community FARE wants to provide a counterbalance to this system to start demonstrating that small farmers can offer a better solution to meeting our food needs than what Big Ag has shaped. A local food hub would provide a service to farmers by creating systems to support small farm operations and bridge the impediments to growth such as access to capital, labor, storage and transportation.

Community FARE hopes to build an enterprise that would serve institutions such as schools, hospitals, assisted living facilities, food banks, retailers and restaurants. Some of the most vulnerable citizens among us stand to gain from their success.

Food hubs are usually values based; the intentions for this budding hub are to promote the small-farm economy, create access to local food for all people in this community, and preserve land and biodiversity.

“We are in need of successful models and new agricultural investment opportunities, and we also need the enterprising creativity of new farmers and a new generation of agricultural businesses entrepreneurs to take on these challenges and help rebuild vibrant agricultural businesses throughout the county,” Whitaker said.


Land and Cultural Preservation Fund, Inc. on the web

LCPF Inc. (a 501c3 non profit) supports 4 active organizations working to create healthy, vibrant, diverse and resilient communities.

Community F.A.R.E. on the web

Community Food-Advocacy-Resources-Education (F.A.R.E. ) was established to help safeguard a diverse and healthy local food economy that will preserve farmland integrity and biodiversity and ensure that food grown here is accessible to residents of Frederick County and its regional neighbors.


willowcreekmanorfarminglogoWillow Creek Manor Farming on the web

Willow Creek Manor Farming on Facebook

MISSION & VALUES

Our mission is to run a sustainable business and create a dynamic community around the farm and the food it produces. We strive to create a friendly and open environment where people can learn about sustainable agriculture, reconnect to the cycle of the seasons, and develop a meaningful relationship with the land and their food.


Friends of Frederick County on the web

Friends of Frederick County on Facebook

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