lcohn

Oct 232013
 

We live within an abundant farm and ranch community, but accessing grass-fed meats from local sources is currently out of reach of the general population. There is a gap between our farms and ranches and the dinner tables in our neighborhoods, and Greener Pastures will bridge the gap. For many years, researchers, producers and agricultural officials have sought a solution to the dilemma a small producer faces in trying to reach markets adequately. There is hard-earned money left on the table every time a producer takes animals from the ranch to the livestock sale, and healthfulness degrades as each animal makes its way through the conventional production process. Until now, there was no way to bridge the producer-to-consumer gap directly and reliably while remaining profitable. Greener Pastures is the solution.

Greener pastures will pay ranchers a higher price for their pastured, healthy livestock than they would otherwise receive at the livestock auction. We will pick up the animals, process them at a USDA-inspected facility, and bring them to the butcher shop for cutting and wrapping to order, all at a price the average family and business can afford. We accomplish this by coordinating a year-round harvest schedule with ranchers, who will be happy to work with us for the higher return on their livestock and pick-up service, and by building our sales volume within one year to a level that will sustain a lower price for our customers. The volume we will need to attain will be supported wide delivery to businesses at prices that are competitive with conventional (factory-farmed and feedlot) meats, which combined with our reliable quality through knowledgeable harvesting and old-world style cutting techniques will take us to the front of the competition.

 Posted by at 7:58 pm
Oct 232013
 

Starting this November, Farmgram will open our digital doors to San Luis Obispo’s first ever Online Farmers’ Market! Our mission is to make sustainably sourced and locally produced goods accessible and convenient.
Our website will allow you to fill your baskets with any combination and quantity of seasonal produce, freshly made artisan goods and all the ingredients you need to stock your kitchen. Then we deliver it right to your doorstep. We will also offer our DIY meal kits and themed boxes for convenient cooking at home.

Right now we are developing our online store and connecting with the countless number of local food producers and growers in the San Luis Obispo community in order to offer a comprehensive grocery shopping experience.

The three of us –Tyler Thomas, Adrian Godby and Tessa Salzman– have been working for almost a year on what started as a senior project. We got connected to the resources at the HotHouse in January and have been testing and developing our ideas surrounding growing the market for local farmers ever since.

Farmgram is just one piece to the larger vision of a strong, self sustaining and localized food system on the Central Coast. Our vision extends beyond Farmgram towards building a community deeply connected to the story of our local resources and food value chains. We see Farmgram as a way to begin cultivating the necessary relationships and fostering a culture where food can be grown, stored, processed, aggregated, distributed and consumed close to home. We are enthused about the potential for collaboration in the San Luis Obispo community, being surrounded by so many other great local food businesses already working to strengthen relationships.

 Posted by at 7:52 pm
Aug 182013
 

Thanks very much to all of the volunteers, Slow Money entrepreneurs who contributed their time and food and everyone who spread the word and attended this past Monday night.  We should especially thank the SLO Grange for use of their wonderful Grove venue, which they worked hard to get ready for this past Monday night. And thanks to those who “tipped” the Grange and helped with their building fund. They were pleased with the assistance towards upcoming projects!

I estimate we had about 80 attendees and we added more than 25 names to our email group. I had a number of conversations with potential investors and food entrepreneurs.  And there were many positive comments about the event, Marco the speaker and of course, the great food. Hope to see many of the new folks at our Thursday, Sept 12 meeting.

Marco Vangelisti provided great insight on the need for Slow Money in a world where Banking and Finance are broken, beginning his talk with an appropriate quote from the book, Slow Money. Marco enjoyed our event and sent me the following follow up comments and links for all.

[From Marco Vangelisti]

What a pleasure and an honor it was for me to experience the strength of community connections being woven in SLO around the Slow Money idea and be able to celebrate with you the success of the Slow Money SLO in its first year! Thank you Jeff for taking the initiative to start the effort in the spring of last year, for gathering such a committed group of volunteers, community members and entrepreneurs and for inviting me to be part of this special event. The imperative to build community resilience points to the need to move towards relocalizing our investments and the beginning of this process is already underway in SLO. 

For those of you still on the fence about moving some of your investment money into the local economy, I wanted to share my personal journey, which I alluded to on Monday, in this video of my talk at the Slow Money National conference in Boulder Colorado this past April. 

I also wanted to share with you some information about the Essential Knowledge for Transition curriculum which I have been developing in the last couple of years to allow communities to understand the large systems (money and banking, economics, and finance) and increase the effectiveness of their efforts towards a better future by locating them in the context of those large systems. 

I look forward to witness the beautiful unfolding of your local commitment and effort towards a healthy and resilient community.

Marco
All in all, a great way to start our second year, and thanks to some donations from within the group and all the volunteer help, a very economical event.

It was especially cool because the SLO Permaculture class had just presented their vision (class project) for the SLO Grange the weekend before and this was displayed as a part of the Grange table at the event.

Thanks again to those who stayed late to clean up and put chairs and tables away into the Grange!

 Posted by at 11:03 am
Aug 022013
 

Supporting Small Farm and Food Entrepreneurs
in San Luis Obispo County

Slow Money SLO progress after one year

by Jeff Wade, Slow Money Local Leader

With strawberries and wine grapes representing almost half of the total San Luis Obispo County crop revenues in 2012, over $400M out of $861M, there is certainly a need to assist and support the small farmer who struggles to access expensive land and bring product to market with some profit; even with 22 farmer’s markets and 15 CSA offerings in the County. Slow Money SLO has brought together investors and funded six entrepreneurs over the past 12 months to the tune of approximately $200,000. Read on to hear about our first recipient, SLO Natural Foods.

After almost a year of hard work by the staff and Board as well as amazing volunteer work, the 30 year young SLO Natural Foods has completed a major remodel of a vacant building and has moved into this larger, brighter space around the corner from the old store. They can now offer many more items desired by the community and compete with the larger stores. The Grand Opening celebration was July 13th with food samples, prizes and music. It was an especially great opportunity for Slow Money SLO since they also have a mission to support local food suppliers. See the new store in this SLO Natural Foods video.

It was exciting to see three other Slow Money SLO entrepreneurs participating in the Grand Opening. These businesses are sourcing ingredients from SLO Natural Foods or selling product through the store, in some cases, both!

  • Benefit Foods has created an incredible vegan, organic, gluten free bar that is wrapped in biodegradable packaging. They are working to create a Lunchbox program to help address child hunger and promote healthy food in SLO County.
  • Mama Ganache sources Fair Trade chocolate for their artisan, organic truffles and bars. When Dr. Tom Neuhaus isn’t instructing chocolate production at Cal Poly, running the Fair Trade club, or producing chocolate, he operates the NGO he founded called Project Hope and Fairness, to help West African cocoa farmers become more economically sustainable.
  • Vert Foods provided samples of their tasty, nutritionally dense prepared foods, which are available for weekly delivery and soon on a daily basis at SLO Natural Foods.

We are online at www.SlowMoneySLO.org, or send email if you would like to chat about our efforts or discuss local leader topics. We have formed a Steering Team to help guide the progress and growth of our group over the next 12-18 months. Local partnerships, education and on-going support for Slow Money recipients are among the major goals for the coming year.

 

SNFO
CLICK on the picture …

Photo participants

Mama Ganache – Tom Neuhaus, Lani Bidwell and Eve Neuhaus

Vert Foods – Virginia Marum

Benefit Foods – Michael Bishop and Amanda Gerard

SLO Natural Foods – Alexis de Falla and Zoe Sanchez

 Posted by at 1:39 am
Jul 182013
 

 


As a past customer of Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates, you may be interested to know what my company and I are doing to help West African cocoa farmers.  In 2006, Ernie Roide and I established the non-profit Project Hope and Fairness to find ways to help the very farmers who produce 75% of the world’s cocoa beans.  We focus our efforts in three countries–Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon.  PH&F has three missions:  1, to distribute tools to villages in order to enhance economic sustainability;  2, to expose university students and others to the realities of the cocoa business;  and 3, to establish cocoa study centers where students and cocoa farmers can work on issues such as appropriate technology, permaculture, and establishment of cottage industry, especially the production, packaging and merchandising of chocolate locally.

Right now, I am working on two projects:  1,  to finish building a rice hulling/chocolate production center in Depa, Cote d’Ivoire and 2, to raise money for students to attend our cocoa study center in Ekona, Cameroon.

We are holding a wine and food pairing fundraiser on Saturday, July 20.  If you live too far away or cannot come. perhaps you would consider donating to our general fund. This is easily done by visiting projecthopeandfairness.org and clicking on the Donate button.

In any case, please find below a description of the rice hulling/cocoa processing center, a description of the fundraiser, and a link to an article about one of my students who is bicycling with his brother across the U.S. to raise money for scholarships to the center.

Incidentally, Mama Ganache sells Cocoa Study Center bars, each of which contributes $1 to student scholarships.

 

Hope On a Bike:  Two Brothers Cross America for Project Hope and Fairness:

1.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-on-a-Bike/479158218787292

2.  http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/06/26/2561727/two-brothers-are-bicycling-cross.html

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 Posted by at 2:10 am
Jul 092013
 

Orchestrating Local Investing in Small Food and Farm Entrepreneurs

or Rebuilding the Economy from the Ground Up

by Jeff Wade, Chapter Leader

Local, Organic, Sustainable, these are the terms that generate excitement these days when it comes to consumers caring about what they eat and identifying quality food. But, while the food conglomerates make an attempt to deliver these elements to meet the growing demand, truly only the small and regional food and farm businesses can fulfill these promises.

Slow Money is a National movement launched by the book Slow Money authored by Woody Tasch. A local chapter was formed in 2012 to bring the principles and benefits of this movement to San Luis Obispo County, we call it Slow Money SLO. Very simply, the group connects those who wish to invest locally in small food and farm enterprises with the entrepreneurs who need the funding.

But, the bigger picture benefits of such arrangements as espoused by Woody are about rebuilding the soil, putting back what we take out and bolstering the food and farm economy in a more sustainable manner. It is about protecting and restoring the natural systems that are most critical when it comes to food production. At the same time, giving people an opportunity to know where their money is invested, to be able to touch and consume the products of their investment and to know the farmer and his property where the fruits of the investment are realized. It includes helping to build the local supply chain that connects the farmer with the consumer.

Some of the greatest food now comes from local producers and the many chapters of Slow Money have had a role in developing some of these brands. In some cases, entire regions have been restored and revitalized by the recognition that local people benefit more from local investment and that the food produced is more satisfying from many perspectives.

The Slow Money SLO chapter has already helped three local food entrepreneurs and more are in process. The method is simple; the group connects those who want to invest locally with those who need it. An entrepreneur presents to the Slow Money group explaining the business and how it benefits the local food system and consumers. In most cases these businesses are already operating. Individuals who find the business of interest and wish to gather more information will arrange to meet one on one with the entrepreneur outside the Slow Money meetings.

Eventually, loan or investment arrangements and terms may be discussed and decided by mutual agreement. The Slow Money SLO chapter is not an investment club and funds are not pooled, but many other chapters have evolved into these models over time. Slow Money participants may also support food and farm businesses by providing advice, business connections and consulting which may be needed just as much as funding.

Slow Money SLO meets at the SLO Grange, 2880 Broad St. on the first Tuesday of each month, starting at 6:30, just after the Farmer’s Market which is held weekly at the SLO Grange. New investors, borrowers and anyone interested in participating are welcome and there is no fee to join. Visit www.SlowMoneySLO.org to express your interest and you will be contacted with more details.

 Posted by at 2:26 am
Jul 092013
 

     

SLO Natural Foods

      Local – Sustainable – Health

SLO Natural Foods – New Name, New Place and More Space!
July 13th, 2013 Grand Opening

SAN LUIS OBISPO: The Natural Foods Co-op of San Luis Obispo now has a new name, SLO Natural Foods and a new location which includes nearly twice the retail, produce and freezer space and a separate room full of natural supplements and health products as well as off-street parking spaces.

Everyone is invited to join the Grand Opening Event on July 13th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Join the staff, volunteers and Member Owners at the Grand Opening for great food, entertainment and giveaways. Music will feature local favorites: Bob and Wendy, Matt Frakes and Kevin “Tex” Bennet.  Vert Foods will have samples of the delicious food customers can expect from the deli cases for quick items on the go, and an ever greater variety later when the in-store cafe opens.  Many other local food vendors will also be there throughout the day.  These will include: Airen’s Confections, Coastal Peak Coffee, Mama Ganache Chocolates, Joebella Coffee, SLO Fresh Catch, Central Coast Grown, Benefit Foods, makers of the locally produced V-Bar, Crucial Chocolates, and Manzanita Manor Organics growers of organic dry farmed walnuts from Paso Robles.

SLO Natural Foods is still the same Member Owned Cooperative that San Luis Obispo County residents have counted on for over 30 years to provide value and useful information that empowers community health and well-being by promoting local small farmers, organic products and non-GMO standards. See the new store in our video.

Hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday hours are expected to begin on a trial basis later in the month. Annual memberships are $25 and member/owners receive additional offers and discounts. See more at www.slonaturalfoods.com or stop by the new store for good food and information.

Our new location is 2494 Victoria Av, one block off Broad Street at the east end of Caudill where it meets Victoria, and just two blocks away from the former location on Francis Street.

Company Contact:

Gwen Schmidt, General Manager
805-544-7928  gwen@slonaturalfoods.com

 

 Posted by at 1:57 am