News

What is the approach taken by the Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) in Texas?  On July 26, 2018, Sue Beckwith of TCLF joined others to present an introduction to value chain coordination at a webinar conducted by the Wallace Center.  Here’s a link to the webinar recording.  Sue’s part begins at 41:45.  There is a Q&A toward the end of the webinar that you might find interesting or useful.  One question that might be relevant to specific regions in Texas is the importance of a single point of contact as the coordinator.  A single point of contact is important to help buyers who are interested in purchasing local food have one person to call to help guide them through the process and connect with resources.  We’d love to hear your comments below!

 

 

The Texas Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Services is looking for Soil Conservationists in 27 cities across Texas.

Vacancy announcement NRCS-18-0570-DE-CF, Soil Conservationist, GS-0457-05/07/09, opened September 14, 2018.  The scheduled closing date of this announcement is September 21, 2018.  Full details of the positions can be found at:  https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/510944300.

Open Positions are available in the following Texas cities:

US/TX – Boerne
US/TX – Bonham
US/TX – Brady
US/TX – Coleman
US/TX – Cooper
US/TX – Corsicana
US/TX – Denton
US/TX – Farwell
US/TX – Fort Stockton
US/TX – Franklin
US/TX – Fredericksburg
US/TX – Georgetown
US/TX – Hondo
US/TX – Iowa Park
US/TX – Knox City
US/TX – Lampasas
US/TX – McKinney
US/TX – Nacogdoches
US/TX – Paris
US/TX – Seminole
US/TX – Sherman
US/TX – Stephenville
US/TX – Sulphur Springs
US/TX – Tulia
US/TX – Waco
US/TX – Weatherford
US/TX – Wellington

 

 

GRANT PROCESS

Grant applications will be available beginning September 13, 2018 through October 12, 2018. All applications must be digitally received by October 12, 2018 (by midnight). Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Grant applications will be reviewed and considered by the AFWA 2018 Grant Selection Committee, a panel composed of community members and culinary professionals. Recipients and non-recipients will be notified no later than Wednesday, November 21, 2018. Grants will be awarded at a ceremony in early December.

All information submitted during the grant application process will remain confidential. Grant selection committee members have signed non-disclosure agreements.

Grant Eligibility — Grant recipients must meet the following criteria:
    • Food and beverage artisans, producers, chefs/culinary professionals farmers, wine-, beer- and spirit-makers, and food-focused non-profits serving the Austin and or Central Texas Community
    • Must be located in Central Texas (within the following counties): Bastrop, Bexar, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Comal, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hays, Kerr, Kendall, Lampasas, Lee, Llano, Mason, Travis and Williamson
    • Must demonstrate how the grant will be used for culinary innovation
    • Must demonstrate community giveback and/or show the impact the initiative will have on the community
    • Represent fiduciary responsibility and transparency
    • Must follow the reporting and accountability guidelines
    • Agree to participate in PR and social media initiatives to promote AFWA & Grant Program
    • Agree to AFWA website presence and mutual promotion of AFWA & Grant Program
    • Must provide three written reference letters as to why you or your organization should receive an AFWA grant and detail the reference’s relationship

GRANT INFORMATION SESSION

The Alliance will be hosting a grant information session at Confituras Little Kitchen (2129 Goodrich Ave, Austin, TX 78704), a 2013 Grant Recipient, on Tuesday, September 18, 5:30 – 7:00 PM where interested applicants can learn more about the Culinary Grant Program and meet staff, board members and past grant recipients.

GRANT REPORTING GUIDELINES

Grantees are required to submit two performance reports updating the AFWA Board of Directors on the progress achieved since receiving the grant. These reports must be submitted 6 months into receiving the grant and at the one-year mark of receiving the grant and may include presentation to the AFWA Board of Directors. The final performance report will serve as a permanent record of the grantee’s accomplishments. These reports will provide information to the grant committee and staff as they evaluate the significance and impact of the AFWA grants. You will be notified in advance with deadlines on when your grant reports will be due.

If you have any questions about the culinary grant program or application process, please contact culinarygrants@austinfoodwinealliance.org.

More information can be found at:

https://austinfoodwinealliance.org/culinary-grant/application/?utm_source=Food+Businesses&utm_campaign=a2bfad0452-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_09_17_06_26_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_db703d0ca2-a2bfad0452-145903985&mc_cid=a2bfad0452&mc_eid=815b82649c

When I asked a group today what value they would get from starting a new local food business, I heard “To take care of the world”, “To provide healthy food for our community”, “To support our local farms”, “Because homemade tastes better is is healthier and more tasty”, and “To bring our culture to the world”.

This group of 30 students in the Advocacy Outreach Family Literacy Program are super excited to start new food businesses.  Together they brainstormed ideas for products that would use locally grown ingredients:  Purple corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa, sweet potato empanadas, specialty cakes, fruit cups, tamales, and many more!

I shared our plans for the ELF – Elgin Local Food Center, a commercial kitchen and education center to be located in downtown Elgin, Texas.  There’s no doubt that these folks will open new businesses in the ELF.  We’re eager to finish funding this exciting new business development center and commercial kitchen.

Today’s presentation is part of our USDA Rural Business Development grant project to help rural business get started and succeed in our communities.  Advocacy Outreach will begin using the Beyond Fresh workbook developed in partnership with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), to be released in early 2019.

Have a great idea for a small food business, but don’t know where to start? Interested in Cottage Food Law and how to sell foods made in your home to the public? Then join the Texas Center for Local Food for an evening of lively discussion with Chris Johnson of Stellar Gourmet Foods, as he helps us navigate Cottage Food Law in Texas!

Event Description:

The Texas Center for Local Food proudly presents a Discussion of Texas Cottage Food Law.

This evening of discussion will be led by Chris Johnson, Chef Executive Cook of Stellar Gourmet. With Chris at the helm of Stellar Gourmet, the company has been able to expand from just a dream to a well-known brand with a product line that includes a diverse array of condiments, spices, pickles, jellies and sauces. Join us for a lively conversation about Chris’s personal experience navigating Cottage Food Law in Texas.

Topics for Discussion Include:

  • Texas Cottage Food Law
  • Starting a cottage food business
  • Selling cottage food products

Event Details

Lockhart Chamber of Commerce

Conference Room

702 S Commerce St

Lockhart, TX 78644

Tickets can be found at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-discussion-of-texas-cottage-food-law-tickets-49816229684?aff=efbeventtix

On July 12th, farmers from around the state of Texas met in Elgin, Texas at the Fleming Community Center to learn about financial management for small-scale producers and to gain the skills necessary to run a successful food business in Texas. The Agripreneurship 101 training event was led by a team from The Alliance for Rural Impact and was sponsored by the Texas Center for Local Food and Alamo Ranch Farmer’s Market, with funding provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.

The training was conducted as a one-day intensive and included sessions on: Business Structure, Separation of Finances, Building and Accessing Credit, Developing Financial Documents and Tips for Tough Financial Times. The course covered a wide array of topics and features presentations from a diverse collection of speakers, including an NRCS Conservationist and former representatives of the financial industry. After completing the training, participants left with new knowledge, skills, and the confidence to efficiently and effectively navigate the financial system and fund their small, farm business.

The full details of the Agripreneurship 101 training event and TCLF’s evaluation report can be found here.

If you are interested in similar trainings and other local food events, make sure to check out our Event Calendar.

Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (TOFGA) is a statewide non-profit organization supporting farmers, ranchers, and gardeners who produce organic and sustainable food and fiber in Texas. With a focus on education and community, TOFGA promotes the many benefits of organic agriculture and encourages its use throughout Texas.

Position Summary: The role of the Operations & Membership Manager is to oversee administrative tasks, manage and grow the membership program, and assist with planning and execution of special events, particularly the annual conference. There is significant opportunity for growth in this position as the organization plans for expansion and excellence.

Reports to: TOFGA Board of Directors, with regular support from Board President and other officers/members as needed.

Classification: Non-exempt, part-time

Pay: Starting at $15/hour

Hours: 20-30 hours/week

Position Responsibilities:

ADMINISTRATIVE

  • Develop and maintain Operations Handbook
  • Participate in strategic planning, workplan development, and monitoring
  • Assist bookkeeper with bank deposits and accounts payable
  • Maintain all insurance, corporate filings, contacts, and admin files
  • Co-manage grant contracts and reimbursement requests in tandem with grants manager, grants committee, and bookkeeper

COMMUNICATIONS

  • Respond to inquiries by phone and email; process mail
  • Monitor social media and maintain an active TOFGA presence through multiple outlets
  • Coordinate outreach volunteers
  • With assistance of the Board Secretary, publish the monthly e-newsletter
  • Support consistency of messaging in all communications

MEMBERSHIP & DEVELOPMENT

  • Manage membership program, management software, and recruitment plan
  • Send out welcome letters, perks, and acknowledgements of donations
  • Manage merchandise inventory (t-shirts, hats, etc.)
  • Incorporate new avenues for member recruitment and donor solicitation
  • Recommend and implement improvements to systems

CONFERENCE & SPECIAL EVENTS

  • Assist in developing process and conference planning manual
  • Manage pre-conference and on-site registrations
  • Ensure that payment procedures run smoothly and as directed by bookkeeper
  • Handle administrative tasks and issues
  • Assist board and bookkeeper with timely post-conference wrap-up and thank you’s
  • Assist with other special events as needed, may require some travel

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES AS DIRECTED BY THE BOARD

Position Requirements:

  • Strong background and work experience in relationship building, team work, and volunteer management
  • Excellent computer proficiency, familiarity with Wild Apricot a plus
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills; strong attention to detail
  • Demonstrated experience in customer service and relationship management
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a collaborative management style; ability to look at situations from several points of view
  • Demonstrated commitment to high professional ethical standards
  • Must be able to work independently and achieve goals according to a timeline with minimal supervision
  • Three years of work experience required, non-profit management experience a plus
  • Ability to manage and coordinate multiple projects in a fast-paced environment

Application Process:

Send letter of interest, resume, and 3 references to president@tofga.org. No phone calls.

Application deadline:

Submit application materials by September 15, 2018

TOFGA is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran, or disability status. sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran, or disability status.

On May 21st through 23rd, farmers, food system workers, government officials, and nonprofit leadership met in Elgin, Texas to participate in Local Food Leadership and Community Food System trainings lead by a team from Iowa State. The event was sponsored by Iowa State University, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas Southern University, Texas Center for Local Food, and the Elgin Economic Development Corporation. The Texas Center for Local Food was selected to host these training events on behalf of Iowa State University to assess program content and determine replicability of this program in other states.

The Local Food Leadership training held on May 21, 2019 taught several foundational competencies critical to an individual’s successful involvement in community food systems development including: working in food systems, facilitation and capacity building, equity as a foundation to food systems, evaluation, and professional development. The Community Food System training held on May 22nd and 23rd was conducted as a two-day intensive and included sessions on: the fundamentals of the Community Food Systems (CFS) program, creative methods for community engagement, coalition development, and community food systems assessment. The full details of both training events and TCLF’s evaluation reports can be found below.

Both the LFL and the CFS trainings included in-person workshops and post-training online modules specifically developed to offer intensive curriculum that covers community food systems, methods of engagement and leadership, equity and cultural competence, community food systems assessments, creating teams and tools for success, and evaluation following the training.

If you are interested in similar trainings and other local food events, make sure to check out our Event Calendar.

What are the real opportunities and gaps in the grass-fed beef industry in Texas?  This report from New York (2015) may inform our work in Texas.  If you have thoughts, please post comments below so we can all hear you.

We talk about the need for meat processing facilities, but maybe we need to do a more thorough value chain analysis first.  It could be that what ranchers need now is marketing and branding support.  Or it could be that we do, in fact, need additional processing infrastructure.

This 2015 report from Kitchen Table Consultants found that about half of the local processors had excess capacity.  Is that because the processors are bad at what they do or because demand just isn’t strong enough yet?

“During our survey, we asked the farmers “Are you currently able to produce enough to meet the demand for your product?” 9 out of 16 (56%) farmers said no, they could not produce enough product, and that they are selling out. The other seven said that they could use some help with marketing their product.”

This report on farmer/rancher satisfaction with meat processing facilities in Pennsylvania may also be useful since they surveyed actual satisfaction with existing processors. We can’t tell when this was written but it was posted in April, 2018.  For some reason they refer to “cattle” as “cows” and we don’t know why that is.  nonetheless this may provide a model for research we could undertake in Texas.

A great resource for small meat processors is the Niche Meat Processors Network.

And a not so pleasant report on Slaughterhouse Worker Employment.