Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is partnering with local farmers to bring fresh, healthy produce to local food pantries.
Farm Link is a new project that will work to increase supply and develop demand for local foods in under-served areas in the Fox Valley. The project’s efforts will focus on building mutually beneficial relationships among farmers, the food bank, local food pantries and their clients, and the community.
“Investing in a local food system has several advantages, like increased access to healthy food, longer shelf life on perishable foods, growth in the sustainable farming sector, support for the local economy, reduction in food waste, and increased regional food system resiliency,” said Megan Pirelli, Grants Manager for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.
With the help of a two-year $70,000 Bright Idea Fund grant from the Community Foundation, Feeding America will be able to contract for land with local farmers and provide an up-front deposit to farmers that allows for the purchase of seed and other necessary supplies for growing.
Although this program is currently in its pilot stage, it has already contracted with Healthy Harvest Farm for 3 acres of production for the current growing season. Healthy Harvest Farm is located in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls and is dedicated to growing food for under-served areas. Feeding America anticipates contracting with more traditional growers to participate in the 2019 growing season.
“The farmers are intrigued by the idea and are extremely appreciative that we are developing a program that is structured as a genuine partnership with their own costs and other needs being considered,” said Pirelli.
This unique program is important to eastern Wisconsin and the Fox Valley because it will remove economic and logistical barriers for small-scale farmers to make their produce more accessible to their local communities.
Aside from accessibility, Farm Link will also work to drive consumer demand through pantry training and consumer education.
“Increasing knowledge, skills and positivity around fresh food, in areas like production, selection and preparation are necessary components in getting fresh food onto the plates of people, many of whom may have little to no experience working with fresh food,” said Pirelli.
You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.