PORTLAND, Ore. – In the height of the Northwest growing season, the 2006 Guide to Local and Seasonal Products is now ready for the picking. This annual directory, published by Ecotrust’s Food and Farms program, Chefs Collaborative (National and the Portland chapter) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), matches farmers, ranchers, and fishermen with chefs, retailers, institutions, caterers, and other food buyers who are looking to purchase locally grown food products.
The Guide is distributed free to all those that are listed within it. Otherwise, copies of the Guide are available for $15 from Ecotrust by calling 503-467-0784 or can be ordered online at www.ecotrust.org/publications/foodguide.html
Considered indispensable by producers and food buyers of all scale, the Guide handily categorizes producers by the products they sell and buyers by the products they use. The well-loved and well-used bible of local foods marks its 6th year in publication this month and is considered central to creating a direct path to market for farmers, ranchers and fishermen.
“Whether you harvest oysters, grow cardoons, make honey or raise lamb — there’s a buyer or a chef who needs your product and this Guide helps keep that transaction and its multiple benefits as local as possible,” said Deborah Kane, vice president of Ecotrust’s Food and Farms program.
This year, WSDA and Chefs Collaborative’s involvement in the Guide expands the playing field for producers and buyers across the Pacific Northwest. In addition to being fully available and searchable online at www.farmerchefconnection.org, the 2006 Guide includes greater representation from the Washington food and farming community. Another valuable feature of the new Guide is the online version can be updated throughout the year, creating a living resource that allows for new and updated information on both producers and buyers who missed the deadline for submission for the printed version.
Entries are listed alphabetically, so producers and buyers can easily cross reference each other. In addition to basic contact information, Guide users will find agricultural practices, farm/restaurant /retail descriptions, minimum order requirements, email, website, specialty products, best times to contact and delivery and receiving schedules.
The Guide is a natural outgrowth of the work of all three organizations that share a common goal to build direct markets between producers and buyers. The benefits, however, make ripples beyond a simple business transaction. By forging connections and strengthening ties between and among farmers, ranchers, fishermen, chefs, retailers, institutions, caterers, and other food buyers, the local community thrives and farmland and waterways begin to be looked at as resources to preserve, not plunder.
About Ecotrust Food and Farms program
One of five major program areas of the Portland, Ore.-based conservation organization Ecotrust, the Food and Farms program is building a vision and constituency for a sustainable, regional food system, ranging from Northern Californian into British Columbia. To this end, the Food and Farms program works to improve public understanding of local agriculture and increase the market share of locally grown foods. www.ecotrust.org/foodfarms
The Washington State Department of Agriculture Small Farm and Direct Marketing Program supports small farms in complying with regulations and policies as they apply to direct marketing of farm products, facilitates direct marketing opportunities and promotes localized food systems in Washington State. It assists in developing infrastructure to support market access for small farms and assists farmers and ranchers to manage and operate their farms to increase long-term profitability. Their web site is www.agr.wa.gov/Marketing/SmallFarm
About Chefs Collaborative
Founded in 1993, Chefs Collaborative is a national network of culinary and food system professionals committed to sustainability in our food supply. Its members recognize the impact local, seasonal and artisanal foods have on our lives, on the well-being of our communities and on the integrity of the environment. The Collaborative is the only culinary organization that provides its constituents with tools for running economically healthy, sustainable businesses. Through education and communication about current issues, the Collaborative inspires its members to embrace seasonality, preserve traditional practices and agricultural diversity, and support local economies. Chefs Collaborative’s vision is for every chef to be aware that food-purchasing choices affect the environment and their communities. The web sites are www.chefscollaborative.org and www.portlandcc.org.