We’re excited to be in our 2nd year providing programming about local food and agriculture to Elgin ISD K-5 students enrolled in the after-school program.  The children are involved and engaged in the food preparation process then they get to taste their yummy concoctions!  We source as many ingredients as we can from local farms then purchase supplemental items (like salt or olive oil) from our local Elgin HEB.

Our teachers show students locally grown products and how to use them in recipes.  Depending on the age group and complexity of the preparation process, the children are involved in as much as possible then, of course, they get to taste their yummy concoctions!

Our wonderful teachers are Lanaye Geiser for K-2nd graders and Debbie Gaston for 3rd–5th graders.  Both classes have similar overall goals: smell, feel and taste new fresh foods; learn what’s available from local farms; and learn how to prepare some foods.  There is one field trip to a local farm per 6-week-session (held on a Saturday morning).

Our next session starts the week of March 6th.  If you have a child enrolled in the Elgin ISD ACE elementary program, please ask your Site Coordinator about the Texas Center for Local Food’s leafy classes!

We had a wonderful and very productive time at the TOFGA conference this year.  Here are links to PDFs of our presentations.

Value-Added Production with Jonathan Hogan of Wicked Good – Here’s the link to Jonathan’s PDF presentation slides about Wicked Good and here’s the link to a PDF of our presentation “Finding your Opportunity.”  For our project “Beyond Fresh,”  funded by Southern SARE and led by NCAT, we will be releasing a guide to help Texas family farmers decide whether processing your crops is a good business decision.  The guide will be published later in 2018.  The workbook will include calculators to guide your financial decisions.  To get an early look at our calculators, please visit our Value-Added Processing section.

Food Hub Feasibility Study – We hosted a lunchtime outreach session to listen to farmers talk about food hubs.  We brainstormed questions, concerns and benefits and enjoyed a lively discussion.  Here’s the agenda as a PDF plus we added a discussion of benefits. We showed just a few slides and here they are as a PDF.  For more info on the project and to complete our farmer survey, please visit the project page. Later in 2018, we’ll share the results of the outreach and brainstorming session.

Food Systems from the Farmer View – Looking at the food supply chain as a value chain, rather than a simple movement of food and money, enables us to think about equity in our food system.  Are all participants in the food system getting value from their participation?

Supply chain from production, through processing, distribution, selling, consuming and dealing with waste. Value chain includes equity and shared social values.

Local Food Value Chain

Are you as a farmer getting the price you require?  Is the mom assured her daughter will be fed healthy, local food at school?  We shared our work as a member of the USDA FoodLINC cohort to develop strong local food value chains in Texas.  Dr. Rebekka Dudensing shared early results of our Local Food Price study that will be released in 2018 and we hope this study will help you begin a conversation about prices where farmers and buyers could meet for specific vegetables grown.  Here are our slides as a PDF.

Where do you find resources to develop your farm business?  Your value-added business?  Ava Cameron presented our new Resource Directory.  If you are a Business member of the Texas Center for Local Food, you’ll be automatically added to the directory.  If you have ideas for businesses we should add, please let us know.  We are developing this directory with NCAT and we want it to be useful for you!  Resource Directory Contact: Ava Cameron


What an amazing group of people again at the TOFGA conference this weekend in Georgetown.  Familiar smiles, new smiles and loads of great information being shared.

We are working with a team on a Feasibility Study to determine if a central Texas food hub will benefit farmers and we need to hear your voice.  Find out more and take the survey here:

Please share the link with anyone else who might be interested.


sunset view of Corpus Christi Bay

We were honored to present on the topic of collaboration at the South Texas Producers conference in Corpus Christi. The conference was double the size of last year’s and that’s a testament to the dedication of the farmers, ranchers, view of market showing open air setting with plenty of lightand healthy food activists in South Texas.  Hats off to the folks of GROW Local STX for their hard work creating such a well-organized conference event.

While there, we visited the Corpus Christi Farmers Market in one of the most beautiful market settings we’ve seen.  The market is in the downtown Art Center where the market is scheduled to coincide with gallery openings, art classes, and family activities.  The vibe is easy and smooth and the selection of vegetables, even in winter, was dang good.

And who can argue with that view?  [Thank you to Debbie Noble for these lovely pics!]

Sue Beckwith in Iowa snow January 2018

What was I thinking going to Iowa in January?  It was minus 3 degrees!  I attended the Iowa State University Community Food Program annual showcase event for community projects.  The room was packed with folks from across the state sharing their projects from Farm-to-School to commercial kitchens.  The roads were covered in snow and honestly I thought the event would be cancelled.  But no; those Iowans are tough folks.  The Texas Center for Local Food will be trying out the Iowa program in Texas with a pilot training in Spring 2018.  More on this soon.  Join us to get our newsletter or check back here later this year.

The Community Food Program in Iowa works with rural communities and urban neighborhoods to help teams of folks develop local food projects that will create jobs, support family farmers, and enhance community vitality.  The Iowa program includes a one-day training to be a Local Food Leader and an option to participate in the 2-year community economic development program.


As we finish up our Harvey Emergency Relief Fund work, here is an update on our accomplishments.  First let me say – Hooray to our partners and amazing donors!  We really kicked it and did a fabulous job.  It was the work of each of our partners, supporters and friends that brought in national attention and made our campaign a success!   The farmers are so grateful. 

Together we got this done and we helped a lot of farmers.  We hope you will remember these farmers as the new year begins and hold them in your hearts. as many continue to continue to work toward recovery.

Did you know that our fundraiser was supported by Acres U.S.A., Cascadian Farms, and Epic bars?  Plus support from the National Young Farmers Coalition, National Farmers Market Coalition, FarmShare Austin, Farmhouse Delivery, Grow North Texas, and the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.   Please check out this radio interview featuring Four String Farm of Rockport:  interview with the Heritage Radio Network (a neat radio show that I hadn’t heard of before.)

We raised a total of $14,866 from 128 backers.  We had 26 applicants for the $500 grant.  We awarded 23 grants of $500 each for a total of $11,500.  Of the 3 we did not award, 1 was a duplicate, 1 is completely conventional farming, and the third never got back to us to confirm their income.  In addition to the $500 grants to 26 farms, we donated $1,000 to the Texas Farmers’ Market farmer emergency fund, paid $1,141 in credit card processing fees, and paid $446 to the Growers Alliance of Central Texas for fiscal sponsorship.  This leaves a balance of about $800 and we have reached out to the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardners Association to contribute to their long term Harvey relief work.
Partners:  Growers Alliance of Central Texas, Texas Farmers Markets, Sustainable Food Center, GROW Local South Texas, National Center for Appropriate Technology, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardners Association, Central Texas Young Farmers Coalition, and Barnraiser!

The Elgin school district (Elgin ISD) is one of only a dozen districts to receive recognition for ground-breaking programs in a special edition of Texas School Business magazine.  This article highlights this outstanding recognition of Elgin ISD’s Farm-to-School program by the Texas Association of School Administrators.  

Partnership with the City of Elgin is key to this success.  As Drs. Duron and Perez point out in the article, the Elgin ISD Farm-to-School program is not just a stand alone program.  Rather it is a key part of Elgin’s collaborative approach to building a strong local economy and healthy populace based on a local food and agriculture.  Our planned Elgin Local Food Center (ELF) will provide the teaching kitchen to teach students and their families about buying and preparing locally grown healthy food.  The ELF is an integral part of bringing lessons learned at school into Elgin homes, while creating jobs in our community.  

Here is the article in the Texas School Business magazine (pg 12-14).

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  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.