Local Foods workshops put Pelican in spotlight as one of food hubs in Minnesota
Several months ago our own City of Pelican Rapids was selected as one of sixteen cities throughout the United States to have been the recipient of a technical assistance grant from the 2020 Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) Program.
Our city was formally nominated by the West Central Initiative (WCI) office in Fergus Falls, MN. for this honor.
This process then became available to our community and was sponsored by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Local Foods, Local Places helps cities across the country protect the environment and human health by engaging with local partners to reinvest in existing neighborhoods as they develop local food systems.
This past Wednesday and Thursday of Oct. 7 & 8, many people throughout our community gathered virtually (from their homes and businesses) to attend 2 days of Zoom LFLP Workshops. Community members consisted of community volunteers, business people, health care workers, civic group members, government employees, and concerned citizens. There were four sessions each day that ran from 9 am to 4 pm. One did not have to attend all sessions, but had the flexibility to come and go as their schedule allowed and thus enter in on the conversations.
It was so encouraging to hear ‘the smile in their voices’ of the many people who spoke in a positive manner of our community and the projected future in the topics relating to food and the food industry.
Session topics consisted of community goals, values, vision, strategy, solutions, and action plans relating to proposed healthy foods grown, prepared, and served in our community. Examples of other communities success stories across the nation were presented by facilitators Holly Fowler, Co-founder & CEO, Northbound Ventures Consulting, LLC, and Will Cockrell, Planner, ERP, P.C., who both were well versed by education and experience in the food networking with other communities.
This was truly an educational, visualizing, and energy stimulating 2 day workshop. There were many robust ideas to help grow our local food economy by improving food access to residents and visitors and thus maintaining a vibrant downtown business district. A few conference calls will be conducted in the future to reinforce our vision and plans for local foods in our community.
I would like to thank WCI for sponsoring the City of Pelican Rapids to gain our Local Foods, Local Places technology grant, the many residents and area people who showed interest in expanding our food growing & marketing options in the Pelican Rapids area, and the many agencies that helped guide us in developing plans to become successful in our version of Local Foods, Local Places.
Local Foods, Local Places workshop goals included
• Foster market channels and supply chain relationships for more locally grown, raised or harvested food to flow within the community.
• Support food entrepreneurs to start or grow existing businesses in Pelican Rapids and enhance Pelican Rapids’ reputation as a food destination.
• Grow and culturally diversify the agriculture economy surrounding Pelican Rapids.
• Empower community members with opportunities and resources to better access meaningful food and participate in food systems planning.