In December 2012, Washington County: One Community organized a local food council to support:
- County-wide collaborations
- Increased local food networking capacity
- Strengthened food infrastructure.
In the spring of 2013, Washington County: One Community’s (WC:OC) Downeast Farm to School Coordinator was contracted to:
1) Form a Food Policy Council to bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related areas to monitor, evaluate, and improve the performance of the Washington County’s food system,
2) Partner with local Farm to School, food assistance advocates and organizations, and other food system advocates to explore the incentives for and feasibility of a county food council and how to promote county-wide engagement around this and,
3) Work with WC:OC staff and key stakeholders to develop strategies that lead to food system improvements.
Working with Washington County Council of Government’s (WCCOG) GROWashington-Aroostook Regional Planning Initiative, WC:OC solicited community input. Public meetings were held during April and May of 2013 in Machias, Cherryfield, Princeton, Eastport and Calais to discuss our regional food system. A total of 117 community members participated, providing input on local food system infrastructure gaps, generating a list of visions and next steps for a Washington County food system that is both self-sufficient and economically viable.
Meeting format and agenda included:
1. Powerpoint Presentation on our local food system (2.9MB)
2. Creation of vision statements for regional self-sufficiency and growth of agriculture for economic development
3. Brainstorming session about how to achieve these two complimentary visions.
Attendees were polled to determine who was in the audience (producers, distributors, processors, consumers, lenders, etc.), their educational needs, and the most significant issues they face in the growth of the food system. Merged polling results from all meetings provide a complete representation of county-wide input.
In March 2014 over 130 people attended the first Washington County Food Summit co-organized by WC:OC, GROWa and Maine Farmland Trust. At the Summit, information and a membership list about the Washington County Community Food Council (WCCFC) was available.
In April 2014, the first organized membership meeting of the WCCFC met and reviewed the mission; identified partners for next steps in the areas of food security, technical training opportunities for farmers, nutrition and food budgeting educational events, and funding opportunities that would address distribution, processing and storage challenges.
***Watch for information about the next Washington County Food Summit: Food, Fish and Our Changing Climate planned for Spring 2016.***
To see the merged Insta-poll results from all of the meetings:
Go to GROWashington-Aroostook website to view the Individual Meeting Insta-poll results and each meeting’s compiled responses to the following inquiries:
1.“The year is 2024. Describe a self-sufficient local foods system in Washington County.”
2.“The year is 2024. Describe a economically-vibrant local foods system in Washington County.”
3. How do we get there from here?
If you are interested in more information or would like to be involved in Washington County’s Community Food Council, contact Regina at: firstname.lastname@example.org.