FOOD + AGRICULTURE
Growing local food and agriculture opportunity.
Farmers and farmland are at the heart of our rural places, and central to a new era of health and wealth here. Getting local food on our menus, in our schools, and into nearby cities can help us build commerce and community. It’s also part of making sure everyone here eats and lives well.
We work with west central Missouri to discover what’s possible, and make it happen.
FARM TO FORK SUMMIT
This annual gathering of local food and farm interests is where west central Missouri builds the connections, knowledge, and voice needed to secure good food for all and family farms for our rural economies. The inaugural summit January 15, 2019, in Osceola filled a local church gym with farmers, food buyers, health professionals, educators, and more. Participants shared practical tips and tools, offered inspiration, and called for more local food networking and collaboration.
COMMUNITY FOOD SYSTEMS
Good food and all that goes with it — friends, family, nature, and neighbors – is so much more than market transactions. New Growth and partners work to connect, support, and advocate for people and programs that build good food into everyday lives, such as community gardens, fresh food pantries, cooking education, land and water protection, and policies to help make healthy food available and affordable for everyone.
Producing fruits, vegetables, meats, milk, and more for the growing local food sector requires more focused education, training, and resources for farms that are starting or diversifying their operations in it. New Growth and partners collaborate to get those local agricultural entrepreneurs what they need. One example is the Beginning Farmer Wholesale Project for producers in this region and greater Kansas City area.
Making farmers’ markets work in rural areas is a great need and opportunity. New Growth and partners aim to build the number of farmers vending at area markets, shoppers enjoying food and community there, and town centers growing with this asset. One example is the Double Up Food Bucks program that partner West Central Missouri Community Action Agency operates with several area markets. This program gets more dollars to farmers and more fresh food to families by doubling the amount that SNAP, or food stamp, participants can buy.
LOCAL FOOD PURCHASING
New Growth works with farmers, food buyers, and partners to get more local food onto menus at cafeterias and restaurants and on shelves at home and in grocery stores. Farm to school is a primary focus given strong and broad-based interest in getting kids more fresh and scratch-cooked foods. It involves building bridges of information and communication between local buyers and farmers. It requires innovation across the food purchasing spectrum, from menus to distribution.
PROCESSING, AGGREGATION, DISTRIBUTION
Making local food work for buyers and suppliers requires attending to the many stops along the way from farm to fork. They include pooling products for greater volume (aggregation); preparing and packaging local food products (processing); and managing the transportation, refrigeration, tracking, and so much more involved in getting products where they need to go (distribution). Most of this no longer exists, or works, for local food and smaller farms in the predominant global industrial food supply chain. New Growth and partners collaborate with entrepreneurs and others to fill these gaps. One is the Kansas City Food Hub, which sources from west central Missouri and eastern Kansas farmers.