The Northwest Michigan Food & Farming Network set an ambitious goal Friday of increasing the amount of food purchased locally in our region to 20 percent by 2020.
|Local advocates for a better food system gathered with educators, farmers, business leaders, students and others to formulate a regional goal of 20 percent local foods by 2020.|
A capacity crowd of 120 farmers, business leaders, school food service directors, health advocates, students and other interested citizens set the new goal of 20 percent local foods by 2020 on February 17 at the Network’s fourth annual Farm Route to Prosperity Summit.
“This new goal brings us in alignment with the Michigan Good Food Charter, and provides for a strong, cohesive effort regionally and statewide for increasing the consumption of locally grown foods as a way to invest in health and Michigan’s economy,” said Jim Sluyter, a food and farming policy specialist with the Michigan Land Use Institute, which convenes the Network.
The Food and Farming Network is a part of the Grand Vision.
The Michigan Good Food Charter, meanwhile, is a vision for Michigan’s food and agriculture system to advance its current contribution to the economy, protect our natural resource base, improve our residents’ health and help generations of Michigan youth to thrive.
It outlines a sequence of steps we can take to achieve its goals by 2020.
Phil Franzo, Director of Business Development with the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, garnered a strong round of applause at the Summit for outlining the chamber’s new policy to require at least 20 percent of food at its catered events to come from local sources, and to encourage other chamber business members to do the same.
The new Network goal includes the following components:
- Northwest Michigan farmers will supply 20% of all the region’s institutional, retailer, and consumer food purchases.
- Northwest Michigan institutions will source 20% of their food product from Northwest Michigan growers, producers, and processors.
- Northwest Michigan will generate new agri-food businesses at a rate that enables 20% of food purchased in the region to come from the region.
- 100% of Northwest Michigan residents will have access to an ample, high-quality, healthy, and culturally diverse diet, 20% of which comes from the region.
- Northwest Michigan’s farmland and associated water and energy resources will be available and affordable in order to build and maintain a long-term, sustainable business environment for diverse local agriculture and food production.
The Network, chaired by Michigan State University Extension, is a collaboration between a wide range of food and agriculture interests in the region.
The summit also engaged a number of breakout groups to set their own ambitious goals. They include:
Branding – To evaluate the value of a regional brand and work towards one for the sustainable food and farming sectors..
Investment – To build out a deeper, more resilient system for financing regional investments in the sustainable food and farming sectors.
Policy – To develop a dynamic policy platform at the local, regional, state and federal level that best supports the overall goals of the Food and Farming Network.
Infrastructure – To identify and facilitate development of infrastructure needs to scale up the local food supply system.
Youth Engagement — To engage youth with healthy local food and agriculture at school and throughout the community, including the development of school and community gardens; student appreciation of local food in school meals; culinary activities; service and volunteer opportunities; and internships.
For more information about the NW Michigan Food & Farming Network, visit foodandfarmingnetwork.org.