The Harvest of "From Garden to Table"
By Jackie Barnhardt, Project Director (Outreach and Membership Director 1999-2011) , and Elizabeth Wolf, Grant Coordinator
This fall the co-op celebrates the completion of its three-year "From Garden to Table" grant. In 2006 Open Harvest was awarded a Community Food Project grant in partnership with Community CROPS and Lincoln Parks & Recreation. The USDA launched this competitive program in 1995 to address food insecurity through community food projects that promote self-sufficiency in low-income communities. The USDA funds only about 18% of the applications received. The grant partners were honored that From Garden to Table (FGTT) was selected.
Elizabeth offered Open Harvest bulk food for sale at the CROPS Farmers Market at Pentzer Park on Thursdays this summer.
The FGTT partnership was strong. Community CROPS is a local nonprofit that helps families grow food for themselves and others through community gardens and 5-acre Sunset Community Farms outside Lincoln. CROPS worked with New American farmer microentrepreneurs to develop business plans, grow crops, and sell produce at markets, grocery stores, and restaurants. CROPS also launched a new farmer's market at Pentzer Park on north 27th Street, which finished its second successful season Sept. 24.
Through cooking clubs, youth gardens, and other programs, Lincoln Parks & Rec introduced low-income and ethnic minority children and teens to the joys of gardening and eating healthy foods, starting with fruits and vegetables. Parks & Rec also produced a 30-minute TV program titled "From Garden to Table" that aired on 5-City TV.
Open Harvest focused primarily on nutrition education and outreach to diverse communities throughout Lincoln and increasing its inventory of produce and goods produced by local farmers, ranchers, and other vendors. The co-op also developed and deepened ties with several schools, media outlets, and nonprofits such as El Centro de las Americas and Clyde Malone Community Center.
Highlights made possible by the grant include:
- Open Harvest hired community members to translate nearly 400 bulk food labels into Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Vietnamese. Flyers, brochures, and ads were also created in one or more of these languages. Multicultural focus groups advised us on how to better serve Lincoln's growing international and minority communities. The consultants gave us tips on promoting the co-op's large selection of foods, herbs and spices familiar to cultures around the world, from quinoa and cumin to couscous and garam masala. Our multilingual StarTran bus ad and other ads helped to raise awareness of the coop's commitment to cultural inclusivity.
- OH department managers worked steadily to source locally produced vegetables and fruit, meat and fish, dairy products, baked goods, and grocery items. The co-op now contracts with about 60 local vendors, and this number is growing.
- The popular "World Cuisine on a Budget" cooking class series featured healthy dishes from Russian, Asian, Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisines using affordable fresh, local, and organic ingredients.
- Outreach at dozens of events - Earth Day, Juneteenth, Celebrate Lincoln, Near South Biketacular, Festival de las Americas, World Day on the Mall, and many others brought the message of "good health through good nutrition" to thousands of ethnically diverse, low to moderate- income community members.
- OH staff participated in Buy Fresh Buy Local campaigns, a Nebraska Food Cooperative event, and two Local Foods Network conferences. Networking opportunities like these ensure our community collaborations will continue.
Thanks to FGTT, the grant partners learned a lot about food security and the needs of Lincoln's diverse communities. Together we've been privileged to contribute our individual strengths to the growing food movement. Many of the programs and initiatives developed just three short years ago will grow and blossom well into the future.
Open Harvest salutes our primary grant partners, Community CROPS and Lincoln Parks & Rec. Your vision and hard work were a true inspiration. Special thanks go to Pama Heikes, Open Harvest's first grant coordinator, who created such a strong foundation. Big thanks also to FGTT's secondary partners: KZUM Community Radio, especially Jesse Starita and Alisa Kushner; UNL Extension's Nutrition Education Program, especially Karen Wobig and Kelly Fisher; Malone Center, especially TJ McDowell and Nate Woods; El Centro de las Americas, especially Marien Ruiz; Asian Center; Indian Center; and to the gifted translators: Luz Delgado, Sussire Ryan, Nina Shevchuk-Murray, Khamisa Obdalla, Zainab Rida, Zahaar Rida, and Duy Linh Pham Bui. The worthy goals of From Garden to Table could not have been met without you!
Open Harvest Celebrates Lincoln
by Elizabeth Wolf, Garden to Table Grant Coordinator
Thanks to our USDA Community Food Project grant, Open Harvest was one of dozens of booths to delight festivalgoers at Celebrate Lincoln June 19 and 20, 2009. Now in its sixth year, the international festival turns the streets of downtown into a global village rocking with live music and dance, good eats, and wares from around the world.
Open Harvest was invited to represent our natural and organic market since we carry hundreds of bulk foods that are familiar to cultures around the world. An inviting display of beans, grains, rice and other whole foods attracted the diverse festival participants. Our bulk foods have been translated into Spanish, Russian and Arabic. This Fall, bulk will also be translated into Vietnamese. Many people were excited to learn about our expansion and stopped to inquire about our future plans on South Street. Recipes, games and samples were part of the fun.
Open Harvest enjoyed sharing a tent with our friends at El Centro de las Americas, Lincoln's only agency dedicated to serving the county's nearly 15,000 Latino residents. Come visit Open Harvest at the State Fair August 30 at El Centro's annual Festival de las Americas.
Updowntowners created the festival to promote cultural awareness and appreciation of the city's growing multicultural identity. The face of Lincoln has changed dramatically since the 1980s, when Southeast Asian refugees began arriving after the Vietnam war. They were followed by Mexican migrant workers and families feeing the wars in Central America. Lincoln's ethnic communities have opened restaurants, small businesses, and revitalized areas such as the vibrant multicultural corridor on North 27th Street.
Big cheers to the valiant volunteers who braved rain, wind, and heat to make Open Harvest's participation at this event possible. Deep thanks to Jackie Barnhardt, Amy Eisenmiller, Lyle and Rojane Hart, Luz Delgado, Steve Huffess, Tim Johnson, Eric Wentz, Shana Kistler, and seven-year-old Odyssey. You are all models of community spirit! And that's something to celebrate.
Prescott After-School Explorers
by Elizabeth Wolf, Grant Coordinator
Thanks to our USDA Community Food Project grant, Open Harvest sponsored a special program this spring at Prescott Elementary School. Co-op member Rachel Sandhorst, an environmental educator and mom of two preschoolers, taught the six-week "Garden to Table" program. About 20 kindergarten through 4th graders joined in the fun.
The focus was broad, Rachel said. "We talked about healthy foods, where foods come from, and what we need to grow our own food, including soil and sprouting seeds." The kids even made their own soil by pounding dry leaves, pebbles, and other organic matter in a sturdy bag. The students learned a lot about where foods come from through the Grocery Bag Game. This involved taking bags full of food and putting the items in the categories of Plant, Animal, Not Sure, and Other. There were some stumpers, Rachel said. Pasta, for example. (Scratching your head too? It comes from grain, the Plant category.) Canned salmon was also tricky for the kids. Because of the packaging, they didn't recognize it as fish, in the Animal category.
Sampling new foods was a big hit. "They loved the healthy snacks," Rachel said. These included a black bean dip, alfalfa sprouts with dressing, roasted garbanzo beans with a little chile powder, oil, and salt, and yogurt cheese spread on whole grain bread.
The program wrapped up with a store tour of Open Harvest, where the class serenaded co-op staff with a rousing rendition of "Dirt Made My Lunch."
Open Harvest extends a big thank you for this successful learning adventure to Rachel Sandhorst and to Tina Brown and Ashley Ulven of the Prescott Community Learning Center. Open Harvest Outreach hopes to offer the program to other Lincoln elementary schools as well. For more information, call 475-9033.
World Cuisine Cooking Classes: A Successful Smorgasbord
Thanks to the co-op's USDA Community Food Project grant, in the winter and spring of 2009 Open Harvest hosted the "World Cuisine on a Budget" series on delectable international cuisines. Classes were held at F Street Community Center.
Open Harvest periodically sponsors cooking classes featuring healthy, organic, and locally produced foods. No cooking classes are currently scheduled. To receive email announcements of upcoming classes, or to suggest a class or a cooking instructor, give us a call at 475-9033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bodacious Bulk Foods kicked off the World Cuisine series in January with an overview of such bulk faves as beans, lentils, couscous, and quinoa.
The Joy of Cooking Seasonally showcased delicious winter root vegetables such as squash, kale, and beets.
Whole Grain Bread Baking covered great baking tips and a no-knead recipe for hurried cooks.
Russian Revelry delighted palates with "lazy golubtsy," an easy version of the traditional stuffed cabbage, along with a gorgeous borsch and a delicious Napolean cake.
The info-packed Gluten-Free with Gusto class covered the basics of gluten sensitivity and showcased some of the 400 gluten-free products Open Harvest carries.
Quick & Cheap International Vegetarian Meals featured a dynamite Mexican polenta casserole and a sensational Indian entrée, plus tons of things to do with tofu.
Herbs & Spices Around the World offered a whirlwind tour of spice combos traditionally used in Indian, Mexican, Thai, and other cuisines.
In Easy East Indian Dishes , the last class in the series, participants cheered as the chapatis puffed to perfection. Mouths watered over the dal, raita, and other delicious fare.
All in all, it was a veritable smorgasbord! Stay tuned for Open Harvest's next cooking class series.
From Garden to Table to Public TV
by Elizabeth Wolf, Grant Coordinator
With the generous support of 5 City-TV, Lincoln's public television station, Open Harvest has teamed up with Lincoln Parks & Rec and Community CROPS to create a 30-minute program about the From Garden to Table grant. The show features kids from the F Street Rec Center working in their on-site garden and learning about composting, rain barrels, harvesting, food prep, and more. Brad Kindler, Community CROPS assistant director, narrates the program, which airs on Channels 5 and 21. For a program schedule, visit www.lincoln.ne.gov/city/mayor/ cic/5citytv/guide.htm.
Bulk Foods Translated Into Spanish, Russian and Arabic
By Jackie Barnhardt, (Outreach and Membership Director 1999-2011)
Our bulk food bin labels have now been translated into Spanish, Russian and Arabic. Take a closer look at the labels next time you shop. New brochures have been translated into these languages inviting New Americans into the co-op as part of the From Garden to Table USDA Community Food Project grant. A special thanks goes out to former staff member Pama Heikes for her efforts on this project.
Open Harvest bulk foods are nutritious and economical, and many cultures around the world are familiar with buying and preparing whole bulk foods such as rice, beans, grains, and nuts. Yet many new arrivals to Lincoln are not aware of Open Harvest and the access we provide to natural foods. Often times as families assimilate to American lifestyles and diets, unfortunately obesity creeps in as well when New Americans transition to calorie-packed highly processed foods.
One of the objectives of the From Garden to Table project is to enhance accessibility and awareness of Open Harvest's nutritious bulk foods. We welcome Elizabeth Wolf to the From Garden to Table project as the new grant coordinator. She is distributing translated brochures to cultural centers around Lincoln. These are available in the co-op across from the produce department.
If you know of someone that might benefit from this information, please share it with them. Open Harvest is located on the STARTRAN bus route and accepts food stamps/ EBT cards. If you have suggestions for places where people may utilize Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and English information about Open Harvest bulk foods, please call Elizabeth at 475- 9033.
This summer KZUM Community Radio 89.3 will air public service announcements about Open Harvest's bulk food labels in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and English. Community translators and KZUM foreign-language programmers will collaborate to translate, read, and record the announcements.
Open Harvest Partners for Cooking Demos at New Farmers Market
Beginning Thursday, July 17, stop by for delicious samples and recipes using local foods at the new Community CROPS Farmers Market at Pentzer Park located on North 27th and Potter Streets. Each week Lancaster County Extension and Open Harvest will partner on cooking demonstrations using natural and bulk foods, and produce from CROPS farmers. The demos are part of the From Garden to Table grant.
New Community CROPS Farmers Market Begins Thursday, July 17 2008
By Ingrid Kirst, Director, Community CROPS
A new farmers market is coming to Lincoln to showcase the diverse families who are growing food in our area. Beginning July 17, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., and continuing every Thursday evening through September 18 at Pentzer Park (North 27th and Potter Streets), the Community CROPS Farmers Market will allow you to purchase delicious fresh foods, enjoy live entertainment, and learn about cooking with new foods.
Community CROPS: Combining Resources, Opportunities and People for Sustainability has been helping families grow food for themselves and the community for over five years. Throughout the city, a network of 14 community gardens provide space for those who want to grow their own food but don't have a place to do so. As an outgrowth of the gardens, the Urban Farming Project allows people to grow larger amounts of food and sell it at local outlets.
As part of the From Garden to Table USDA Community Food Project grant that is a partnership between Community CROPS, Open Harvest and Lincoln Parks and Recreation, we have funding to develop a new farmers market to provide another marketing opportunity for the farmers we work with, as well as be able to sell fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to low-income families. Open Harvest has been a great supporter of CROPS by purchasing vegetables from our farmers, providing donations and a lot of great input.
Thanks to the USDA and the Community Health Endowment, the market will be a reality this July. The market will have a number of vendors selling a variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods and hot foods. This is the first farmers market in Nebraska set up to accept food stamps for all eligible food purchases, a practice used successfully throughout the country. At the central market manager's booth, a person with food stamps (Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT) will be able to swipe their card and receive tokens to spend at the market booths. At the end of the day, the vendors can turn the tokens in for reimbursement. Credit card customers will be able to use the system as well, and receive tokens of a different color that can be spent at any market booth. We are also working with the Wednesday Havelock farmers market to accept food stamps there.
With its location in a central Lincoln neighborhood park, the market will be accessible to everyone. Each week Lancaster County Extension and Open Harvest will provide demonstrations on cooking with new foods, and local musicians and artists will provide fun entertainment for the whole family.
From Garden to Table to New Mexico
By Jackie Barnhardt, (Outreach and Membership Director 1999-2011)
In May, I traveled to New Mexico to the Southwest Marketing Network Conference and Project Director meeting for Open Harvest's USDA Community Food project From Garden to Table.
I toured the La Montanita Food Co-ops in Albuquerque and in Santa Fe. La Montanita has four stores throughout Northern New Mexico. In Santa Fe, I visited the newly remodeled and expanded La Montanita Co-op. They moved into an existing grocery store space a few years ago and expanded their square footage into the retail space next door as sales grew and space became available. They have strong support within the co-op community for member drives. The co-op features a credit union inside the store. Credit unions are member-owned co-ops as well.
La Montanita features the Co-op Trade Initiative, an effort that strengthens their support of local farmers, ranchers and producers to bring high quality regional food to consumers and build the local food movement economy. I met with Robyn Seydel in Albuquerque at the Co-op Distribution Center warehouse. She discussed the concept of local "food sheds." Based on regional watersheds and traditional acequias (irrigation canals), their food shed area covers a 300-mile radius around Albuquerque. Twenty percent of products they carry come from local producers. Their Co-op Distribution Center warehouse provides pick-up, supply and storage services for producers and distribution of regional products to their four co-op stores and other retail outlets and cooperatives. The circle is completed in the distribution system by delivering participating producers cooperatively purchased feed, packing materials, and other producer supplies.
There is strong support for local foods in New Mexico. The larger communities fund positions for local food foragers that seek producers and connect them to schools, restaurants, groceries, and others to boost the economy. They source grant funds available and look for innovative partnerships throughout their communities. Foragers connect producers with processing kitchens and local chefs to make salsas, frozen enchiladas, and more to utilize produce that is slightly damaged but still safe to use.
One evening I met with Navajo ranchers over a humorous discussion of corn, and the conversation turned to local food processing. In Northern New Mexico, they have a mobile slaughter unit they take into the pasture for slaughtering bison, pork, goats and sheep. This stresses the animals less than loading and transportation to slaughterhouse. The Navajo take the meat to a certified facility to age and process according to their customers' orders. They package and label meat for groceries, restaurants, and families. Animals are free range and hormone free.
The Farm Bill was in the final stage of legislation at the time of the meetings and has since passed through congress (twice). Community Food Projects received mandatory funding for $5 million for the next ten years to address social health, economic and educational issues. Geographic preferencing is new legislation that passed in the Farm Bill this year allowing school systems and other government institutions to purchase local foods from local farmers. This benefits children, farmers and the community. Due to the agriculture multiplier effect, when a dollar is invested in the community, three dollars of economic development is created in the region.
Developing Farming Microbusinesses
By Leslie Pillen, Community CROPS Farm Manager
The Community CROPS beginning farmer training program and farm training site (located just a few miles west of Lincoln) have been progressively developing over the past few years. Program participants, who are largely immigrant or refugee families and individuals, work with CROPS to start and develop their own market farm businesses. As market farmers, participants grow a wide array of vegetable, fruit and herb crops for sale at area farmers markets and to supportive local businesses. Among the local businesses that support CROPS farmers is Open Harvest.
In 2007, Open Harvest purchased a variety of vegetables from the farmers in CROPS'training program. These sales were immensely beneficial to the farmers for a number of reasons. Financially, vegetable sales enabled them to provide for their families. Some of the farmers have past injuries which prohibit them from working a full-time job, so the opportunity to work at their own pace on the farm is invaluable. Open Harvest helps make this possible for them by supporting them through purchasing their produce. The relationships that have been formed between CROPS staff and farmers, and Open Harvest staff and customers are also important for strengthening local community. Where else can you shop and also "get to know your farmer?"
We at CROPS are very excited for the 2008 growing season. We have been working with Produce Manager Deslie Ervin to develop contracts for CROPS farmers to grow and sell a variety of produce items to Open Harvest. This is great news for the farmers because it provides them with the opportunity to grow food knowing that there is a guaranteed market for it. It reduces the uncertainty frequently involved with market farming. The farmers are also glad to know that their community supports them in their efforts to grow healthy, diverse crops for local markets.
We firmly stand behind the belief that local agriculture systems can help create a healthy community, healthy families and individuals, and a healthy local economy. We appreciate the commitment which Open Harvest has made to further developing and supporting local agriculture through sourcing locally-grown produce at their store. Be sure to look for CROPS-grown produce on the shelves of Open Harvest this growing season!
Reharvesting: Open Harvest's Food Recovery Program
By Amber Ham, Health and Fitness Grant Coordinator at F St Rec Introduction by Pama Heikes
Food Recovery is a program that promotes the usage and donation of food products that are still edible but no longer saleable. Examples of this would be produce with a small bruise, foods that are pulled from the shelf on the expiration date but are still edible on that day, or a special order that did not get picked up. Open Harvest's "From Garden to Table" Community Food Project grant promotes the development and strengthening of partnerships with primary grant partners, Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department and Community CROPS. Open Harvest also makes Food Recovery donations to other community- based organizations including Food Net and The Gathering Place. Every Tuesday Amber Ham meets with Produce Manager Deslie Ervin at Open Harvest and collects on average 70 pounds of food ranging from mint leaves, to pears, to baby red bananas. Amber unloads the food at F Street where everything is divided into separate bags.
The food recovery program at F Street Rec is a wonderful new way to expand low-income children and adults' understanding of fresh vegetables and fruits. Duane Wunderlich, head chef at F Street Community Center, picks various items that he may use for lunch, dinner, or the children's snack during the week. Duane cooks lunch for the seniors Monday through Friday with food donated from the Food Recovery Program. He also cooks dinner for the children Monday- Friday with food donated from the Recovery Program or the Food Bank.
Amber often takes about 20 pounds of fresh fruit to schools and recreation centers throughout Lincoln where she teaches health, fitness, cooking, nutrition, and gardening. Any produce that is not used by F Street is then set out for local community citizens to take. F Street Community Center is open 7 days/week and provides various services such as discounted bus passes, food distribution from the Food Bank, drop-in after-school care, free computer usage, tutoring, English Language Learners Classes, etc. Being located in the "core" of Lincoln, F Street provides services like no other recreation center and caters to the low-income and New American populations. The Food Recovery Program is just one asset to the center.
The Food Recovery Program allows children access to fresh fruits and vegetables, a commodity not often received at home. More importantly, the children don't frown on a few bruised apples and pears - they are happy to bite into a actual pear instead of one that has been in a can of heavy high fructose syrup sitting on a shelf for months. Low-income children and adults are constantly exposed to high sugar foods, as they are more easily accessible and affordable. If children can begin to learn about these high sugar foods and understand healthier foods, then society may see a decrease in the number of overweight and obese children.
Open Harvest partners with Bilingual LpS and Library Lunch program
by Pama Heikes, Nutrition and Marketing Assistant
It is always exciting to bring the message of nutritious foods and healthy eating to new audiences, and recently Open Harvest has had a wonderful opportunity to do just this. We have entered into partnership with the Lincoln Public Schools, the Lincoln City Libraries and El Centro de las Americas to provide a healthy lunch and nutrition education for a bi-lingual reading program for Latino pre-school children and their families. The children are participants in ExCite, a federally funded bi-lingual pilot program conducted at Prescott Elementary School.
According to Oscar Rios Pohirieth, LPS Latino Achievement Coordinator, the program is designed to strengthen both family bonds and literacy by teaching adult family members how to read to their children. The City Libraries are hosting the event and are providing the bi-lingual Spanish/English children's literature. With the aid of an interpreter, families are introduced to activities in story reading and music. The children also engage in a related craft activity which encourages hands-on family interactions. The program serves approximately 25 families and will run once monthly for one year.
After considering various ideas for snacks for the program, Oscar brought up the idea of collaborating with Open Harvest, and it was ultimately decided that we would provide a healthy lunch rather than a snack. Through our From Garden to Table Community Food Project grant, we were able to produce a menu with basic nutritional information and have it translated into both Spanish and English. These were distributed to all of the families. Outreach assistant, Kate Smith, delivered the lunch and worked with the interpreter to conduct a brief nutrition lesson about the foods being served. She also presented some basic information on organic and natural food concepts, and found that some of the participants were unaware of the existence of pesticides and chemicals in certain foods they eat. The menu may have seemed a little different, like the peanut butter, raisin roll-up on a whole wheat tortilla, but this was an excellent opportunity to introduce sampling of new foods and encourage healthier eating strategies.
We are very pleased to be a part of this innovative, on-going project.
We Bring you Local Produce "From Garden to Table"
By Deslie Ervin, Produce Manager
What a busy summer! In the month of July, the Open Harvest Produce Department bought approximately 943 pounds of local produce, 121 bunches of local herbs, 100 clamshells of cherry tomatoes, 240 ears of corn, and 10 garlic braids.
I'd like to thank our memberowners and our shoppers for purchasing the produce and supporting the Buy Fresh Buy Local program. I believe next year will be even bigger and better.
I personally am no fan of numbers, but when I looked at the figures I was astounded. It's amazing to think that what seems to be little bits at a time, adds up to some impressive statistics. The farmers and farms that we are helping to support are Community Crops, Common Good Farms, Harvest Home, Shadow Brook Farm, Caruso-Rozzano Farms, Doctor's Family Farm, Farmer Bill, Daniel Becker, Jim Larson and Pam Hetrick, a guy named Dave, and a few others.
The variety and quality has been good. We carried three types of cucumbers, three types of zucchini, numerous varieties of tomatoes, five different types of potatoes, two types of basil, cilantro, flat leaf parsley, a few varieties of eggplant, kohlrabi, various kales, leaf lettuce, arugula, onions, sweet corn, garlic, cilantro, beans, five types of peppers (both hot and sweet), and melons. We had two varieties of okra, but unfortunately I couldn't even sell one variety.
One of the core values of Open Harvest is in our mission statement: support of local producers. So one of the lovely side effects of this co-op commitment is that all these local food connections qualify in fulfilling the objectives for our "From the Garden to Table" Community Food Project grant. The Produce Department's partnership with Community Crops and the work we are doing with their New American farmers match goals of the grant. Heck and I just thought I was doing my job.
It started back in March when I met with a group of Community Crops farmers, Assistant Director Brad Kindler, and an interpreter to discuss the basics of how our department does business. We discussed buying, quality control, pricing, what a co-op is, our co-op values and what I thought would sell well. In the following months our department has been working closely with CROPS Director Ingrid Kirst and farm manager Leslie Pillen to provide real world experience and allowances for various approaches to help the farmers find the method the works best for them.
I know that by supporting and investing our co-op's resources in CROPS and the other local farmers, by investing time in explaining my buying practices, or explaining why I can buy one item but not another, or trying to arrange in-store local specials in order to promote their produce, or teaching them about pricing structures and a million other things that come up, in the end we all learn something. And with the knowledge that we glean from our budding relationships we all become more savvy and knowledgeable.
July 2007: From Garden to Table Project Update
Last fall, Open Harvest, in partnership with Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department and Community Crops, was awarded a USDA Community Food Project grant entitled "From Garden to Table". The grant is designed to increase food self-reliance among low-income, minority and New American Communities. In May, Pama Heikes joined the Open Harvest staff as the Nutrition and Marketing Assistant. She and Project Director, Jackie Barnhardt, are currently working on the development of several grant initiatives.
The translation of labels and ingredients for Open Harvest bulk dry foods into three languages is in progress. The labels will be placed on the bulk food bins in Spanish, Russian and Arabic. A brochure in each of the languages listing the specific ingredients for the bulk foods will also be available in the store. In time, this information will also be distributed to various cultural centers and community groups in an effort to create greater awareness of, and accessibility to our store and our bulk foods.
Developing partnerships with community minority and New American cultural centers is also a significant part of the grant. We are now in the process of developing a series of nutrition classes with El Centro de las Americas, which will provide classroom and kitchen space. Also partnering with us in this is the Lancaster County Extension Nutrition Education Program, who will conduct the training. We are very pleased to be working with both of these agencies.
February 2007: From Garden to Table to Washington D.C.
By Jean Helms, general manager, and Jackie Barnhardt, (Outreach and Membership Director 1999-2011)
Open Harvest's Community Food Project (CFP) grant "From Garden to Table" has received the attention of our U.S. representatives Congressman Fortenberry and Senator Nelson.
On February 20, Jean Helms and Jackie Barnhardt were invited to meet with Congressman Fortenberry in his Lincoln office to discuss the benefits of our USDA Community Food Project (CFP) grant awarded last September. This funding allows us to foster ag entrepreneurship for local producers, expand our nutrition education programs, and improve our efforts to enhance food security by providing increased access to affordable, nutritious, whole foods. Congressman Fortenberry is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
We have encouraged Congressman Fortenberry to support expanded funding of CFP grants in the 2007 Farm Bill. This will create the opportunity to increase economic stability by supporting family farming, local communities, sustainable agriculture, and community gardens; and improve the health of our nation's vulnerable populations by providing access to fresh and whole foods.
The meeting lasted about forty-five minutes. Many issues were discussed including accessibility, entrepreneurship and childhood obesity. Congressman Fortenberry is conscious of the shift occurring in people's awareness regarding food issues and talked about consumers' growing desire to be connected to their food. He is conscious of the plight of the American farmer, the need for renewable energy, and is interested in addressing commodity payment limitations. He seemed very sincere in his interest in the future of our Cooperative, consumer demand for local and organic foods, and food safety.
On March 19, Jackie met with Senator Ben Nelson's staff in Washington D.C. to discuss the "From Garden to Table" grant. Joining her in the Nebraska delegation was Stephanie Ahlschwede, a Methodist minister and CFP project director of "Big Garden" in Omaha. Discussion included details of how these grants genuinely help families by offering access to gardens, nutrition education, and business opportunities. Once community gardens and farmer's markets are established, results can be sustainable.
Jackie was in the Capitol to attend the CFP Directors' meeting, and Decade Celebration of Community Food Projects that were first authorized in the 1996 Farm Bill. CPF has made grants to over 240 innovative projects, promoting a wide variety of community-based solutions to local food systems and hunger problems. CFP has earned a reputation as a creative and adaptable power within the shifting circumstances of community food needs. To learn more, go to www.foodsecurity.org.
Open Harvest looks forward to developing fluid CFP partnerships, and building relationships with our legislators to enhance food security and the good life for all Nebraskans.
USDA Awards Open Harvest $275,000 for Community Food Project Grant
Open Harvest, in partnership with the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department and Community CROPS, was awarded more than $275,000 in September for a Community Food Project grant entitled "From Garden to Table." The three-year project addresses the needs of low-income, minority and New American communities by providing access to affordable, high-quality, whole foods; developing markets for local urban producers; and hands-on education on local food, gardening, and nutrition.
The USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) will fund and administer the grant.
"This grant enables us to serve our community more effectively by translating our bulk foods into other languages and developing programs about eco-literacy to educate where food comes from. Many children do not even know how a seed grows." said Jackie Barnhardt, Open Harvest's Outreach Director. "We can create a stronger food security system when we understand and support the vital service our local farmers provide to us."
Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department (LPRD) will help develop youth-driven community garden activities, cultivate family involvement, and provide hands-on cooking and nutrition classes particularly addressing childhood obesity among children living in core neighborhoods. Several educational programs will also be developed to air on Channel 5 City/TV (cable network). "Our motivation for the From Garden to Table Project is to go beyond mere provision of free snacks and supper, help the children understand the food production cycle, good nutrition, learn easy food preparation techniques, and start to increase their own families' food self-reliance," said Sandy Myers, LPRD Recreation Manager.
From Garden to Table strengthens the ability of Community CROPS, a local community garden project, to provide technical assistance, resources, and access to garden plots and small farms to underserved populations in Lincoln. The project creates an opportunity for CROPS to build an Ethnic Farmers Market in order to increase access to fresh local fruits and vegetables, and encourage economic development of refugee, New American, and low-income farmers.
Lancaster County Extension Nutrition Education Project will provide nutrition education and cooking classes at the F Street Recreation Center utilizing produce raised by children working on the youth gardens.
The grant also creates opportunities to connect people to highnutrient, economical bulk foods by expanding outreach and marketing to a broader community. KZUM Community Radio will provide cultural awareness of the From Garden to Table project and education on nutrition and food self-reliance.
Additional partners include the Hispanic Community Center, Malone Community Center, Asian Community and Cultural Center, Indian Center, and the Good Neighbor Community Center.