Community Picks: Spiral Foods, Preserve Sonoma & Marin Organic ~ at the N. Coast Young Farmers Guild

Last night’s North Coast Young Farmers Guild was another great success!  The crowd keeps growing, the dishes featured the delicious summer bounty, and the speakers were great!  Held at the amazing GrowKitchen in Sebastopol, the party started at the farm across the street for tasty sangria and tomato-picking, and then moved back inside for dinner, chatting, and a fun and casual presentation by the night’s lineup.

This month we heard from Spiral Foods, Preserve Sonoma and Marin Organic.  All three of these organizations support farmers and ranchers by helping them reach new markets, distribute surplus harvest, or create value-added products.  Here’s an overview about their great work!

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 5.52.06 PMSpiral Foods is a co-op market about to open in Sebastopol – the first of its kind!  With a mission to strengthen the farming community and shorten the distance from farm to table, this co-op will provide fresh, local produce, bulk items, meat and dairy with an emphasis on minimal packaging.  The future vision also includes a café and commercial kitchen for workshops, cooking demos and local production projects – all great additions to better connect farmers with their neighboring community.  With a one-time $300 equity investment (installments also available), community-, worker- and farmer-owners can enjoy member discounts, workshops, cold-storage and access to the commercial kitchen.  Most importantly, every $1 spent at the co-op results in about $4 circulated into the local economy.  Spiral Foods is currently seeking more local producers, so any local farmers looking for sales opportunities, get in touch with them!  For everyone else, farmers included, become a member and help support this amazing addition to the community.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 5.53.17 PMPreserve Sonoma offers a unique and needed service hand-crafting recipes and co-packing value-added products for food entrepreneurs and farmers.  We met founder Merrilee Olson last year at the Heirloom Expo, and it is wonderful to see how her business is evolving!  Offering canning services, private labeling and small batch processing, Preserve Sonoma procures food from and for many local farms.  Considering how much excess product farms produce in the form of “seconds” or surplus, Preserve Sonoma takes this surplus and turns it into affordable value-added sauces, pickles, jams and more.  This is a great opportunity for farmers to supplement your revenue.  Sell your surplus product to food entrepreneurs needing ingredients, or can your own goods and have a value-added product to sell during the year.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 5.52.45 PMMarin Organic has a new Executive Director, and they have recently re-envisioned their programs to focus on Farm Field Studies and Gleaning.  With an unwavering dedication to organic agriculture, and fostering a relationship between local organic producers, consumers and restaurants, Marin Organic is working towards expanding their programs into Sonoma County.  The Farm Field Studies Program focuses on connecting K-12 students to organic agriculture, food and the natural environment.  Farmers interested in hosting a local school group on your farm, get involved!  The Gleaning Program connects local school groups with local farmers that have extra harvest and helps distribute it to local food pantries, community centers and school cafeterias.  Contact them to host a gleaning day on your farm, or volunteer to help harvest!

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