Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Commodity to Communities: Building Resilient Food System Networks for the Roanoke Region

Join us on Saturday, October 24th at Grandin Gardens, while we continue our efforts to activate our local food system.

Last May, Lynchburg Grows hosted Will Allen, a MacArthur Fellowship awardee and founder of Growing Power, Inc. to start a dialogue with local foods advocates from across the state about how to build our regional local food systems. The Urbiculture Foundation volunteered to host the Roanoke Regional conference this October. This is the result of our efforts.

Some of the things on the agenda are:

· Learn how Lynchburg started its first urban farm by its founder, Michael Van Ness. Lynchburg Grows is a 6.5 acre urban farm with 2 acres under glass. After reading in the Lynchburg News & Advance about the destruction of a vegetable garden at a local home for disabled individuals due to a miscommunication, the founding members of Lynchburg Grows came together to rebuild the garden. While working on the garden, the members decided to expand their mission to help all disadvantaged persons enjoy the healthy benefits of gardening and having access to such spaces.

· Talk with Christy Gabbard, the head of planning for The Catawba Sustainability Center. The center, which has been in the works for about a year, aims to be an example for landowners of the benefits of sustainable farming and the promotion of environmental stewardship in the community. Christy says, “one thing that struck me is that we talk about sustainability in each of our disciplines, but there's not really a place to showcase sustainability across disciplines." Catawba Sustainability Center is kicking off EarthWorks, a program designed to accelerate land-based businesses through a variety of services, including: low cost land-lease arrangements, aggregation space, access to larger markets, training, access to innovative technology and business planning support services.

· Rachel Theo-Maurelli will continue her efforts of facilitating an open forum, where we can share our ideas and come up with the next action steps to take. Rachel started a dialogue two years ago and has been progressing to this point. Some ideas that already have come up and which will be discussed are the Cleveland Ave Urban Farm, which is in the development stage; the Roanoke Community Gardens, which is in its second year and has recently received a CDBG from the City of Roanoke; and the local foods program recently started at Grandin Court Elementary. If you have any specific ideas you want to share at length, email Rachel:

· The 2009 Food Security Conference Ron McCorkle will summarize the conference and share ideas applicable to our area, as well as national food policy. This year’s conference is about our philosophy of how food is perceived. Also, the conference will be talking about efforts to change the emphasis of federal farm policy, toward a more community-based and community-owned structure.

· Local Roots CafĂ© may have special items for us to purchase.

· Visit the Grandin Village Farmers Market before the conference. (8am-12noon every Saturday)

· After the conference, Celebrate the Grandin Gardens 350 Harvest Festival.

You are invited to share:

Apple Butter, Smoothies, Popcorn, and A Recycled Scarecrow making Contest!

You can make a scarecrow at Grandin Gardens or bring yours from home. Contest judging at 2 PM if you want to win a Beautiful Full harvest Basket!

MUSIC and presentations:

** "What is" Chad Braby, Cool Cities

** Solar Ovens and “What can I do to make a difference", Katherine Devine and students

** Plowshare Peace and Justice Center info

The conference will be from 9AM until 12Noon on Saturday, October 24th at Grandin Gardens. To help pay for expenses, we are asking for a donation of $10, or whatever you can. Please invite everyone you think is involved with our local foods system, from seed saver to consumer and every piece!

Grandin Gardens (map it)
1731 Grandin Road,
Roanoke, VA 24015

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