Local Food Connections Workshop Draws Farms, Food Businesses, Locavores
by Natalie Fullerton
Fifty-six people attended the November 10 “Local Food Connections Workshop” held in Wichita, Kansas. The workshop focused on networking, marketing, and locating local food in south central Kansas. Those in attendance included farms, food businesses, and locavores looking to start or expand marketing and purchasing locally sourced food.
Breakout sessions, comprised of ten different presentations, brought in speakers ranging from a chef Michael Beard, owner of 715 Restaurant in Lawrence, KS using a nose-to-tail meat use approach in his restaurant to Paula Miller, a dietitian offering advice on how to find and use local food in Kansas.
Other speakers included: Rebecca McMahon, Sedgwick Count Extension Agent who presented on “Planning Crops for Consistent Yields;” Brady Krueger, Krueger Insurance, “Liability Insurance for Market Farms;” Pam Paulsen, Reno County Extension Agent, “Post-Harvest Handling for Produce;” Brian Phillips, Store Operations Manager for The Merc in Lawrence, “Local Food as a Marketing Tool”; Cherie Schenker, owner of Schenker Family Farms “Regulations of Buying & Selling Animal Products” and “Niche Livestock Marketing;” and Tracey Graham, Our Local Food-Twin Rivers Coordinator “Eating by the Calendar in Kansas” and “Preserving the Harvest.”
A local food buyers and sellers panel shared their experiences. Challenges to buying and selling local food and how to overcome them, how far in advance connections with farms or businesses need to be made, important regulations and resources were a few of the topics addressed.
The workshop concluded with keynote speaker, Diana Endicott, founder and president of Good Natured Family Farms (GNFF). The company is a pioneering alliance of over 160 family farms within a 200-mile radius of the Kansas City metro area. Endicott manages the company’s many facets including sales to area grocery stores, a workplace wellness CSA which services employees at companies in the Kansas City community, a partnership with Bistro Kids to bring a farm to school program in eight Kansas City metro YMCA Head Starts, and Good Natured Market at Harvest Learning Center, a non-profit grocery store in Kansas City’s Ivanhoe neighborhood. Endicott discussed her current and future endeavors with the company and filled the room with excitement about the opportunities local food can provide for small farms and businesses.