Texas Center for Local Food
Strengthening our Texas grown
economy ... together

Donate to our Texas Farmer-Rancher Harvey Relief Fund now! Help sustainable and organic family famers through this horrid situation.  Farmer & ranchers:  Send your pics and stories to AskMe@TexasLocalFood.org.

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  • 02 Sep 2017 3:49 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    DONATE!  The Texas Center for Local Food is leading a partnership of Texas organizations to provide emergency relief to sustainable and organic family famers as they deal with this horrid situation. We are partnering with Barnraiser on this national campaign.  Please donate today.  We aim to raise $40,000 in 30 days to grant $500 each to 80 Texas sustainable and organic family famers adversely impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  Ends October 1 at midnight.

    Farmer & ranchers:  Send your pics and stories for us to share with the public to AskMe@TexasLocalFood.org.  Good to show pics of damage with you and/or animals in the photo.  We're here for you and will get the word out.  APPLY for aid here from the Texas Farmer-Rancher Harvey Relief Fund.

    Farmer Disaster relief strategies and very useful information page at TOFGA.

  • 29 Aug 2017 8:51 AM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    We are working with partners across the state to establish a Disaster Relief Fund for Texas sustainable and organic family farmers.  We know many of you need help and please stay tuned as we post updates.  We are also working with partners who are developing a single page resource guide for recovery assistance.  The MAIN THING to know right now is to document your losses;  get a small notebook and write down dates and losses;  take pictures as you go.  Hang in there and stay in touch!

  • 23 Jun 2017 12:00 PM | Ava Cameron (Administrator)

    Our first produce delivery under Elgin's USDA Farm-to-School grant was completed on May 9th by Bekki Calloway of Skinny Lane Farm.  Clearing the paperwork hurdle to become an official vendor for the Elgin ISD kitchen taken care of - she provided 60 lbs of carrots and onions making sure to include her funniest-looking ones! 

    The kids had a blast sorting through her produce.  Many students began chomping on the fresh carrots, and many wanted to take a carrot with them "for later" so throughout the day, students could be seen in the halls with fluffy carrot greens sticking out of their back pockets.  

    Even the administration got in on the super crunchy action, with the entire school board munching fresh local carrots at a recent meeting. 

    We will soon have more farms registered to participate in our farm-to-school operation and we hope to incorporate more and more local foods into our schools every year.  We consider the students’ enthusiasm to be a fabulous omen for our continuing work.  

    Here's (left to right) Bekki Callaway of Skinny Lane Farm, Elizabeth Guajardo the EISD Child Nutrition Director, and Lupita Martin the EISD Farm to School Project Manager getting in on the carrot action.

  • 07 May 2017 5:31 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    How about we have a Flash Membership drive for the Texas Center for Local Food? Start now! Go through Tuesday 5/9. We work every day to support a stronger local food system! Let's do this. Join or donate today!    Become a member today!

  • 24 Apr 2017 6:38 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Miguel wants to include a tutoring cafe for Elgin students - a place to hang out, eat good food and get academic support in a space they design that's comfortable for them.  We are working with Miguel to make this happen in ELF.

    Miguel presenting his idea for a tutoring cafe

  • 21 Apr 2017 6:24 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    You may have heard that we're working with the City of Elgin to build a shared kitchen and business incubator space in downtown Elgin!  ELF - Elgin Local Food Center.  As part of our planning, we held a community input session in March.  39 people came and we heard lots of excellent input.  bottom line:  People will use ELF!

    Ashley presenting her catering company ideaJules, Juba, Alex picking favorite logos

  • 19 Apr 2017 12:16 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    USDA FoodLINC Texas
    We are honored to have been selected as one of only 13 organizations in the country to participate in the USDA's innovative FoodLINC project.  We hope the Congress keeps this and other beneficial USDA programs that support family farmers and rural economies. (Hint: You might call your U.S. Representative.)  USDA FoodLINC connects rural farmers and ranchers with urban buyers...yep, let's move local food from farm to mouth and move money into farmers' pockets.  For the Texas Center for Local Food, USDA FoodLINC is key to what we do - like these projects:

    Institutional Buying
    To increase buying of local farm and ranch products by large institutions, we have joined the Austin-based collaboration that includes Austin Independent School District (ISD), the University of Texas, and the Austin Convention Center - thank you Edwin Marty from the City of Austin Office of Sustainability for inviting us!  We continue to be deeply involved in developing Elgin ISD's Farm-to-School program.  We also worked with a collaborative to apply for USDA funding to look at the feasibility of a central Texas food hub, and we'll find out this fall if that gets funded. Of course, we'll keep you posted on this very exciting work! 

    Ensuring the farmer's voice is heard in local food system work is at the core of who we are at the Texas Center for Local Food.  We are doing a price study to find out what large-scale wholesale buyers can/will pay farmers. 

    Price Study
    We're working with Texas A&M and Texas State University to conduct a price study to identify the prices wholesale buyers in central Texas are willing to pay, alongside what prices farmers are willing to accept.  The price study starts this spring with vegetables and we'll study grass-fed beef this fall.  In 2018, we'll study prices for poultry, grains, eggs, and pretty much all things grown and raised by our beloved farmers and ranchers.  We already have a possible partner to help fund this project and we'll let you know when details are finalized.

  • 06 Apr 2017 6:16 AM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Grow Local South Texas is putting south Texas sustainable and organic farming on the map!  The Texas Center for Local Food joined them recently for their local food conference.  With excellent and committed partners, Grow Local South Texas is increasing awareness and access of locally grown sustainable food and perhaps most importantly, helping farmers grow their businesses.  Check out these two videos!

    2017 Local Producers' Conference video

    About GROW Local South Texas

  • 17 Mar 2017 8:17 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    You've probably heard of South by Southwest and I'll bet you think of music.  Yep, lots of music for sure.  But did you know that before the music fest begins, there is the SXSW Interactive (and Film too)?  Interactive is packed with innovative perspectives on the use of tech in our world and I've been told that it's actually the largest of the 3 SXSW Festivals.  For me, Interactive is a chance to dive into the out of the box world and get my head into new ways to solve the problems we face as farmers, rural communities, and food system changers.  What does tech have to do with it?  It’s not just tech - it's ways of thinking - taking our questions and problems and looking to other industries for ideas, answers and solutions.

    In these next few posts, I'll write my impressions and share what I've learned.  As with any conference and certainly any investment of time and money, it's a good idea to know what you want to get out of it.

    Our queries going to into SXSW-I 2017:
    1. Know Your Farmer.  Are there ways we can employ tech to make it easier for thousands of people to know their farmer?  We know that when folks spend time on a farm they have a stronger connection to their food.  We know that connection to our food is a critical step in owning our own health and leads to improving our food system.   Recent advances in virtual reality technology (VR) may make it possible to conduct remote farms tours.  Could people experience a farm remotely using VR?  What about online interactive video (Skype, Nom)?   What are the possibilities and costs here?
    2. What new tech is available to make cooking easier, faster for middle class families?
    3. Storytelling is key to engaging people with their food and farmers and ranchers.  How can we better storytellers?  How can we facilitate farmers/ranchers being good storytellers?  How do we know if our stories are heard and are effective?
    4. For the Elgin Local Food Center (ELF Center), what tech is available for equipment and business education for food businesses?
    5.  Are there specific revenue streams for the ELF Center that we haven’t already considered?

    Tomorrow, I'll start looking for answers.. and I'll surely find new questions too.

  • 10 Mar 2017 8:54 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Day 1, Friday, March 10, 2017

    Keynote by Senator Cory Booker:  His message to get to work, focus and share the love was of course inspiring.  I thought the huge ballroom would be packed and it was mostly full, but not packed so that was a little discouraging.  Senator Booker did mention food in his speech.  He made reference to the critical task of fixing our “broken food system”.  Although I don’t personally describe our food system as “broken” (it works perfectly well for those it was built to benefit),  it certainly is a good thing when the work of improving food systems is mentioned by a national figure.  I’m personally pleased that the term “food system” is entering mainstream language and I think that’s a big win for farmers and ranchers and farm/food advocates across our country.  View Senator Booker’s SXSW speech here.

    Richard Garriott gave a short talk to announce his new book Explore/Create.  Garriott loves many things and has a focus and perseverance that I think is quite rare among tech people.  He also demonstrates a keen awareness that most people don't have loads of money.  He talked about his famous trip to space and also explained that the price is coming down - OK, so it's still a lot more than a bus ride across town... but it's moving down!  My take away from his talk was akin to the philosophy of Ben Franklin - approach every new project with what Franklin called "a beginner's mind".  Be open, explore.. create.  [As an aside, Garriott was very, very supportive when I was helping start Austin Free-Net back in 1995 - in part due to his support, Austin Free-Net today continues to support access to technology and training for all people in Austin].

    Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was the highlight of my day and the session where I began to see direct links to our food system economics work.   Dr. Murthy spoke with such ease and clarity about what he sees as a major healthcare issue for Americans – “an epidemic of chronic stress”.   He talked of the many causes even beyond those we might expect:  job, money, family, traffic.  He said that even once those basic needs are met, the data show that Americans feel isolated and lonely.  The impact of stress is huge on our health and is a primary driver behind poor health and chronic disease.  I didn’t know that chronic stress contributes to inflammation, which is something that affects many people I know.

    Dr. Murthy spoke directly to the emotional pain that afflicts so many Americans.  Even with social media tech we are feeling more isolated than ever – and feeling isolated is a huge contributor to chronic stress.  What to do about isolation?  Connections matter and according to Dr. Murthy, it’s the quality of the connections that matters most.  The highest quality connections are those that are mutually beneficial.  [TCLF Question #1:  How can we create high quality, mutually beneficial connections between people to the farmers/ranchers who grow their food?]

    My big “ah-hah moment” came when Dr. Murthy shared a study on the benefits of contemplative practices, the “ACES study”.  Students were taught mindfulness practices and while they mocked them at first, after only 2 weeks of twice daily meditation, the teachers found the hallways quieter and after 1 year the suspension rate dropped by 45% and after 2 years by 95%; teacher absence rates plummeted and students grades came up.

    So add contemplative practices to the list of good health drivers, in addition to healthy food, good sleep, physical activity, and quality social connection. 

    At the Texas Center for Local Food we work closely with the Elgin school district to increase the consumption of healthy foods and we are part of a central Texas group to improve general access to healthy food.   This session gave me a clearer sense of how our work dovetails and complements other work by Elgin and other school districts to improve overall student and family wellness.

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Texas Center for Local Food, Elgin, Texas                                                            

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