Mad River Valley Locavore Organization

In many communities, the Locavore project is simply a matter of picking a time frame that everyone will eat locally grown and produced products. However, often these groups realize that some planning and work done with stakeholders (farmers, stores, restaurants, etc.) in advance would not only make the challenge easier, but the effects would spill over to helping people eat locally well after the challenge is over.

The original founders of the Mad River Valley Locavore group (Kate Stephenson, Helen Whybrow, Linda Faillace, George Schenk and Robin McDermott) have a vision that the Locavore project will change the way the Mad River Valley eats forever. Therefore, we feel strongly that it is important to have an infrastructure in place to support Locavores today and in the future. However, while we initially gave life to the project, to achieve our vision, we need others to work with us to build a sustainable organization.

Project Sustainability

Sustainable is an important term here. The Mad River Valley Locavore Project is a grassroots effort with little or no budget completely dependent on volunteer work. We don’t know of anyone in this valley with a lot of extra time on their hands, so we are proposing a model of Divide and Conquer. If we have a lot of folks working on small, well-defined tasks we can build a strong project that will be sustainable.

Rather than working toward perfection in everything that we do, applying the 80/20 rule will enable us to get the most work done with the least amount of effort and we can still achieve our objectives. The 80/20 rule as applied to projects says that you will spend 20 percent of your time completing 80 percent of your project and the remaining 80 percent of your time will be spent completing 20 percent of the project. In other words, let’s focus on the big picture and get things done rather than getting “lost in the weeds.”

Projects to Work On

There are many different reasons people are interested in the Locavore project and there are many different aspects of the project that need development. Below are some ideas that we have as far as “subcommittees.” After our next organizational meeting we hope to have people working on all of these groups. If you can come to the meeting (5:30pm on June 21 at Yestermorrow), give some thought in advance as to which group you are most interested in helping with. If you can’t attend the meeting, hopefully we will have key contacts for each of these groups after the meeting and you can let them know about your interests.

Farmers

What products do our local farms produce and when? What can we do with those food ingredients? How do you cook kohlrabi? What do you do with okra? Do we need a food calendar?

Schools and Institutions

Could we get the schools to participate in the Locavore challenge in any way? Maybe one all local lunch or maybe just identifying local ingredients used? What about Evergreen Place? Do they use any local ingredients?

Restaurants

Do we want to encourage local restaurants to feature a local entree option during the Locavore challenge week? We may need to work with the restaurant proprietors, help them come up with local selection ideas, find sources for local ingredients, and then we need to let people know which restaurants will be featuring local foods. What about after the challenge. How can we continue to encourage restaurants to serve more local options and source more food from local farmers?

Stores

How can the stores let customers know which items that they sell are local? How can we encourage the stores to carry more local items? How can we let people know which stores they can go to to get local items? What items would we like for our stores to carry, but they don’t currently have? We could help them source food items and then help promote that the items are available.

Value-Added Suppliers

We have several people in the Valley who make food products, but few of those businesses use local ingredients. Can we help these businesses source local ingredients? How can we let people know about locally made food products that do contain local ingredients? What are some things that we wish we could buy locally, but that we can’t get in the Valley? How do we let potential value-added suppliers know that we have identified needs? How can we help someone get a value-added business started.

Events and Education

People need to prepare for the challenge. What can we do to better prepare people? Potlucks? Movies? Panel discussions? We already have some events lined up between now and the September challenge, but need to organize those events as well. People have commented that they would like to learn more about canning and other preservation techniques as well as storage of root vegetables for the winter. What other types of workshops can we offer?

The Challenge

What guidelines (aka Rules) are we going to have for our challenge? Marco Polo rules? Wild cards? How are we going to publicize the Challenge? Are people going to sign pledge forms? How do we disseminate and gather the pledge forms? What supports do we need to have in place leading up to and during the challenge week. A hot line for “emergency” questions (ie “Help, I am making an all local pie and just realized that I have no local wheat flour.)? Are there any “high profile” residents that we can recruit for the challenge who will help bring attention to the Challenge?

 Food Sources/Foodshed Map

We have a great list of over 90 food providers in the Mad River Valley. How do we disseminate that information? How do we verify the information, or do we even need to? What about food sources outside of the MRV, but within the 100 mile radius. If someone finds a great source for local salsa, how do we tell others about that and how to we archive that information?

Promotional Materials/Publicity

This group would support the other groups. Do we need a logo or some identifiable image? Does the store group want to provide stores with signs indicating local foods? If so, those need to be developed and printed. What about hand-out materials? Website updates.

Policy/Political Action

When we identify roadblocks to local food, what can we do to help remove those roadblocks? Can we work with the state Agency of Agriculture? The legislature? Not-for-profit groups that share common goals (NOFA, Rural Vermont, etc.).