Launching the Local Producer Sustainability Project

My name is James Harren and I’m excited to announce the launch of the Local Producer Sustainability Project. I’ll be working on the project for this next year as a VISTA, or Volunteer in Service to America, hosted by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). SMIF has developed the project in partnership with the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association, Renewing the Countryside, and Sustainable Farming Association. The goal of the project is to develop business support systems for small food businesses in SMIF’s 20-county region in Southern Minnesota. I’m kicking this three-year project off hoping to interview farmers, cottage food makers, and other local producers to see how they can be better supported. I hope this work will further develop a robust local foods economy in the region and will allow for collaboration statewide to support a lively local foods economy throughout Minnesota. Click here for more information on this project.

If you are interested in getting involved, we are still recruiting for the project. I am recruiting an Advisory Committee. Members of the Committee should be participants or experts of the local food system in Southern Minnesota who will advise the project and offer their knowledge to me and other project leaders. We are also looking for another VISTA to join the project, focusing on developing capacity for farmers’ markets in the region. If you are an expert in local food, are interested in learning more about the other VISTA position, or have any questions do not hesitate to reach out – or at 507.214.2014.

I’m excited for this project to move forward and make a difference in the region and beyond!