Ecotrust launches online learning community to seed regional food systems; connect food and farm community
Release Date: 06-21-2007

PORTLAND, Ore. – In the recipe for creating food and farm networks, Ecotrust is proving that there may not be such a thing as “too many cooks in the kitchen.” The Portland, Ore.–based nonprofit has launched, an interactive forum designed to create and sustain a virtual, national network of individuals working to create more sustainable food systems in their own region.

Marrying the latest social networking technology with their experience in building regional food networks, Ecotrust has created an interactive learning community featuring a peer-to-peer exchange of ideas, questions, and lessons learned around the topic of building local food networks. Now, Ecotrust is inviting a national audience of chefs, farmers, food processors, food system organizers, retail grocery buyers, educators, institutional buyers or policy leaders to log on to, register and join the community.

The network was created as an interactive companion to Ecotrust’s newly-published Building Local Food Networks: A Toolkit for Organizers. Within the beautifully designed toolkit, Ecotrust Food and Farms program leaders have distilled seven years of history and lessons learned from organizing and staging their successful Farmer-Chef Connection conference, plus ‘how-tos’ for publishing the annual Guide to Local and Seasonal Products. Together, the Toolkit and online learning community are designed to provide users with a springboard from which to further develop their own region-specific models for food systems change, while keeping up to date with best practices from around the country and beyond. Joining the online community is free. The toolkit is available from as a pdf download for $35.

“These two resources were created in response to inquiries we receive from chefs, farmers and food activists throughout the country asking how they can replicate the robust local food network that we experience here in the Northwest,” says Deborah Kane, vice president of Ecotrust’s Food and Farms Program. “We wanted to demystify the process of building regional food networks of all scales, yet we know we don’t hold all the answers. The online learning community provides a forum for brainstorming ideas and sharing best practices with individuals in your own region or from across the country.”

About Ecotrust’s Food and Farms Program
Since 2001, Ecotrust’s Food and Farms program has been investing in building direct market connections between farmers, ranchers, and fishermen and restaurant chefs, grocery retail buyers, institutions and distributors. One of five major program areas of the Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit Ecotrust, the Food and Farms Program is building a vision for a sustainable food system.