Member Spotlight

FoodHub Connections: Greenwillow Grains flavors From the Fields’

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 by

Paolo at From the Fields’ preps their small batch granola. Photo Courtesy From the Fields’, LLC

Some things you can only get from someplace special. Each region has its own point of pride: Hood River lays claim to strawberries, Rainier has its cherries (roundly contested by Montanans!), Vermont has maple syrup. While searching FoodHub for new sources of ingredients for her all-natural line of muesli, granola and whole grain porridges, Betsy Field found something special from Brownsville, OR, and farmer Clint Lindsey of Greenwillow Grains.

Putting it simply, she said, “They grow the best oats I’ve ever eaten.”

So good, in fact, that Betsy anticipates being the sole distributor of Greenwillow Grains in California as she brings their oats into her San Rafael production facilities, then redistributes the final product to co-ops and other natural markets who buy from her.

A self-described sourcing fanatic, Betsy spends hours poring over lists of producers, visiting farms, and building the connections she needs to feed her growing business called From the Fields’ LLC. When she found Clint on FoodHub, she did a taste test, comparing Greenwillow’s grains to a commodity product. What she discovered was an astonishing texture and taste profile against which she now judges all other grains, and that inspired her to raise the bottom line on her ingredient costs.

“I’m always looking for direct to farm relationship,” said Betsy who buys thousands of pounds of grain every year. “Anything in fruit nuts and seed, we want. It’s been challenging, but it allows us to knock out the middle person, offer the product for less and pay the farmer more. Greenwillow’s oats are more expensive and the taste profile is superior, but I also know who grew it and where they grew it, and how, and that they mill it.”

And Betsy’s diligence makes a big difference to businesses like Greenwillow Grains that are ready to serve regional markets.

Organic, hulless oats grow at the Greenwillow Grains farm. Photo courtesy Greenwillow Grains.

“At first our barriers to expansion were market opportunities. We needed people to be aware that what we had was available,” Clint of Greenwillow said. “We now have ten different organic crops for local markets and that’s been a big deal, but we are also starting to pursue the kinds of relationships that fit the kind of farm we are capable of becoming: We’re ready to pursue customers that need a pallet or two per month.”

To find these new customers, Clint regularly uses FoodHub.

“Once I started to really keep our profile up to date and look at the Marketplace and Fresh Sheet every time they came up was when things really started to happen,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called or emailed someone who might be a good fit. A couple times it’s resulted in killer business relationship. … I know that if somebody is on FoodHub they’re probably the kind of person that I want to do business with.”

Up the Ante

Ensure your success on FoodHub by returning to the site and updating your profile on a regular basis. Every three months, edit your product list to include the most current list of what you’re harvesting to make sure the best of what you have is visible season after season.

FoodHub Member Connections: Fresh Links Launch Chicken Scratch Farm and Rose City Local Market

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 by
Photo Courtesy Chicken Scratch Farm

Carolyn Eddy in Eagle Creek, OR, has always been a farmer, but after raising pack goats for years she and a business partner decided it was time for something different. They bought a few chickens and a few hives and started building a fresh egg and honey business.

“Normally I would tell people to start small and take it slow,” she said, “but that’s not how it went for us.”

Soon after launching Chicken Scratch Farm, Carolyn joined FoodHub and made the business connections that quickly took her to the next level.

“We didn’t have a market for eggs and somebody told us about FoodHub,” she said. “When that first big client jumped on board we were scrambling to keep up and adding more chickens. We’re doing better than we ever expected.”

Her two main clients, both FoodHub connections, are Rose City Local Market and Flying Fish Company.

“I’ve been in business for about four years and as long as I’ve been running I’ve worked with local farms,” said Rose City owner Christina Robinson who looks for no-spray, organic fruits and vegetables, and humanely-raised meat. “At first it was just organic, but now it’s more local. It’s really important to most of my customers.”

When Christina could no longer get in touch with her normal egg supplier she turned to FoodHub to fill the gap. Now, after posting for eggs in the Marketplace, she gets 30 to 50 dozen eggs every other week from Chicken Scratch Farm.

“The Marketplace is a great place to connect with people and find things that you’re looking for,” Christina said. “If I’m looking for a product, I go to FoodHub first.”

To keep the connections going, both Christina and Carolyn will continue to rely on FoodHub: Christina, who is launching an online storefront for her customers, will be using FoodHub to vet new vendors and invite them to join her list of providers. Carolyn, who doesn’t yet have website for Chicken Scratch Farm, will continue to use FoodHub as her primary marketing outlet.

“A lot of people don’t do advertising,” she said, “but with FoodHub we don’t spend a lot of time working on marketing. We were fortunate to get good clients right off the bat.”

3,2,1 Liftoff

Launching a business can be hard, but getting started with FoodHub is easy:

3 … If you’re new to FoodHub, log in and spend some time filling out your profile, searching for your primary customer type or the vendors you need, and sending an initial round of introductory emails. Carolyn said many of her clients have reached out to her through the Message Center – don’t be afraid to use it right away! – and make sure your other contact information is up to date as well.

2 … Every month or so, update your product list and Hot Sheet to make sure any new potential connections are finding your profile when they search the site. Christina told us she found a farmer in her area who she knew had strawberries, but they didn’t show up in her list of results when she searched for that product on FoodHub because they hadn’t added it to their profile.

1 … Carolyn said she spends an hour a week with FoodHub, usually every Tuesday when she gets the Fresh Sheet. Use your hour to respond to any messages, create a marketplace post of your own, and see who’s new in your area.

FoodHub Member Connections: Rural Schools Tag Team on Local Purchases

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 by
Vicky Brown works with students to grow food for the cafeteria at North Powder Charter School’s school garden.

Chuck Lowry has been raising beef cattle for 30 years. And while he has been selling cuts to friends and family from his ranch in Baker City for years, as well as into the conventional market, it didn’t occur to him that there was another local market he was missing out on.

That is until Vicky Brown of North Powder Charter School in North Powder, OR, found Lowry Family Beef on FoodHub. This year, she purchased ground beef and roast, and plans to do it again for the next school year.

“Chuck was very excited to help us out and very proactive in promoting his beef,” she said, “and it is a fabulous product. FoodHub is a great resource for me. I can check out product and communicate with my lap top rather than getting on the phone.”

And while it may be easy to find beef in cattle country, as a recipient of HB 2800 funds, which granted nearly $200,000 to 11 Oregon schools to purchase more Oregon product, Vicky said her school district and others in Eastern Oregon are still struggling to procure other local items and have them distributed to their dispersed locations.

Some distributors do have routes through the area, but many broadliners usually arrive from Boise or Spokane and, according to Vicky who is charged with tracking the provenance of her HB 2800 purchases, don’t carry Oregon-grown products. Many farmers regularly drive upwards of four hours to distribute their product into the Portland market, but, Vicky said, it’s been a challenge to encourage them to look in their own back yard for customers.

“Here in Eastern Oregon it’s all about distribution, distribution, distribution,” said Vicky.”We have until the end of June to spend the money but getting product is hard. Our time is precious and these food service ladies are going to farms and getting product on their own.”

According to a survey conducted by FoodHub and Ecotrust’s Farm to School staff of schools and pre-schools in Eastern Oregon, 142,700 meals are served daily to children by these kitchens and cafeterias. Roughly speaking, if all of these schools and preschools purchased Hermiston watermelon for just one of these meals or snacks (about 125,340 servings), it would support the purchase of 20,548 pounds of watermelon, and return about $15,411 into the local market at $0.75 per pound.

“This is my second year tapping into other local schools and trying to gather our purchasing power,” said Vicky who regularly coordinates purchase and delivery of product not only for her own kitchen, but also for others in a similar situation including the staff in Joseph, also HB 2800 recipients, who will often drive nearly two hours on their own time to pick up their portion of joint purchases. “The need is here,” she said.

Flex your region’s connections.

Build a business case for your region’s local food system by searching for other buyers in your area to start coordinating purchases. If you’re a seller looking for new local markets, use the Knowledgebase to find direct marketing tips and best practices. Have something to offer that’s not food? The Marketplace is ideal for advertising cold storage or commercial kitchen space that’s available for others in your community to use and may also be easy one-stop pick up sites for any coordinated purchases.

Community Fisheries Network raising the bar on accountability

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 by

This is a repost from the Ecotrust blog, which is designed to inspire fresh thinking, spark innovation, and encourage investment in natural economies. Read more stories about Ecotrust’s work, and that of our partners and friends, at blog.ecotrust.org.

Community Fisheries Network members are pushing for new metrics for to track progress on sustainability and traceability. Photo by Scott Trimble.

As the seafood industry faces a wave of new questions about the legitimacy of fish labels, the Ecotrust-backed Community Fisheries Network is buckling down and working to build back public trust by establishing rigorous accountability on sustainability standards for its 13 membership organizations nationwide. (more…)

FoodHub Member Connections: Adelante Mujeres Makes Farm to School Connections

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 by
Farmers from Adelante Agricultura and Melissa Lusk of OCDC meet to discuss challenges and opportunities of local sourcing during the Washington County Farm to School Meet and Greet.

Rebuilding the local food economy takes flexibility, ingenuity, and great partnerships. As more nonprofits and advocacy organizations take the lead in connecting local buyers and sellers, relationships are initiated and built in a variety of settings. Adelante Mujeres – a nonprofit in Forest Grove, OR that not only trains and educates aspiring Latino farmers, but also helps those growers build business relationships and thrive in new markets – had one such opportunity to build grower-buyer relationships through a Washington County Farm to School Meet and Greet hosted by Ecotrust’s Farm to School staff.

To reach out to schools and producers in and around Washington County, the Farm to School team used FoodHub to bring good potential online connections to life.

“FoodHub is one of the main ways through which we search for potential event attendees,” said Ecotrust Farm to School Coordinator Katy Pelissier. “Its a quick and easy way for us to search for buyers and sellers that we know will be interested in working together. And, we know it will be straightforward for them to follow up with each other after the event, because they can continue to connect on FoodHub.” (more…)

New Farm to School grants put local foods in Oregon students’ lunches

Monday, February 11th, 2013 by

This is a repost from the Ecotrust blog, which is designed to inspire fresh thinking, spark innovation, and encourage investment in natural economies. Read more stories about Ecotrust’s work, and that of our partners and friends, at blog.ecotrust.org.

This semester, school lunch for nearly 60,000 Oregon students is transforming thanks to an infusion of local food and food education.

The Oregon Department of Education has announced that eleven school districts are the recipients of competitive Farm to School and School Garden grants totaling $189,140. The majority of the funds (87.5%) will be spent on purchasing Oregon food products, with a smaller portion (12.5%) dedicated to food-, agriculture-, and garden-based education activities.

Local food is on the lunchline and garden programs are on the rise in Oregon, thanks to new Farm to School funding from the state. Photo by Shawn Linehan.

The funding goes to diverse districts and schools across the state, from the tiny rural community of Joseph nestled in the Wallowa Mountains, to Oregon’s second largest city, Eugene, in the heart of the Willamette Valley.


Local food is on the lunchline and garden programs are on the rise in Oregon, thanks to new Farm to School funding from the state. Photo by Shawn Linehan.

(more…)

Eugene Local Food Connection Opens Doors to New Business

Friday, February 1st, 2013 by

An annual event for the past seven years, the Local Food Connection in Eugene, OR, has truly become a hub for creating connections. Hosting more than 250 attendees last year – including 70 buyers or distributors, 28 processors, and 71 regional producers – the conference has one overarching goal: Help people find new business opportunities.

“If you’re coming with a product to sell, we determine our success by helping you find a new place to sell it,” said Event Coordinator Jared Pruch. “For food buyers the goal of the conference is to let you know about opportunities to buy locally produced food.”

The theme of the 2013 conference is “Values Added: Celebrating the Values of Our Local Food System”, reflecting the stories and values that lie behind local food products, and the place-based and cultural significance of this unique food region. A new feature this year, conference organizers will be acting as connection brokers to ease the process of finding the right person to talk to in a room of 200.

“The most valuable aspect of this event is just having everyone in the same room for the day. Having that face-to-face time is really important,” said Pruch. “In the past we left it up to attendees to find each other. This year we’re incorporating brokers who have a roster of food buyers from restaurants, grocery stores or institutions ahead of time so that when people try to connect there will be someone there to help make an introduction.”

In addition to providing brokers for their networking sessions, the conference will host several new panels including breakout sessions about starting a food cart and building community food systems in rural areas. Along with new breakout sessions, the conference will be bringing Jacques Gibson to the podium for a keynote address covering his family’s success through Lochmead Dairy, which was one of seven dairies in operation in the Junction City, OR, in the 1950s and today is the only one left.

“He’s going to talk about some of the key decision they made that helped them grow their business from a small family business to regional food player,” Pruch said.

Attendees can also look forward to a locally sourced lunch, which, last year, left one university school buyer – who provided the conference with an anonymous testimonial – impressed with the variety of products available in what is typically thought of as the off season.

“I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the ingredients that were donated prepared in different manners,” they said. “I also thought that since we were not in peak season it was a great variety with what was available, and I wanted to taste everything.”

Registration for the conference is $30 and includes breakfast and a light lunch as well as the attendee’s choice of workshops.

More information about the 2013 Local Food Connection can be found online at localfoodconnection.org.

FoodHub Connections: Flying Fish Company puts big impacts in small packages

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 by

As one of FoodHub’s early adopters, Lyf Gildersleeve has a list of local connections almost as long as Flying Fish Company’s first Portland storefront – a retrofitted bread delivery truck parked on a corner in Southeast Portland. And while his current location on Hawthorne Street isn’t much bigger, Gildersleeve has managed to sell more than a half million dollars worth of product through the 176 square foot shack – to which he recently added a shipping container converted into a commercial kitchen and walk-in refrigerator. According to the Food Marketing Institute, that’s on par with average sales per square foot of most grocery stores, which are normally 46,000 square feet per store.

To keep the shelves stocked and the product fresh, Gildersleeve builds working relationships with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen, and he finds them with FoodHub.

“One the great connections I had last year was with Copper River Fish Market for their sockeye,” he said. “I ended up getting thousands of pounds from them last summer and will again this coming June.”

Last year’s list is impressive: 2,000 pounds of Copper River salmon, 2,000 pounds of Chinook salmon, 5,000 pounds of Oregon-caught tuna, 2,000 pounds of Dungeness crab, 2,000 pounds of bay shrimp, plus local pastured eggs, grassfed meats, local cheese, and other specialties like local Frog Eyes Wasabi. A sampling of FoodHub connections includes Rainshadow El Rancho, Chicken Scratch Farm, Provenance Farm, Reister Farms Lamb, Deck Family Farms, and Buchholz and Son Farms, LLC.

“We’re fortunate here in Oregon – it’s a pretty abundant place,” said Gildersleeve, who moved to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to the region’s burgeoning local food marketplace after opening his first Flying Fish location in Park City, UT.

He’s not the first Flying Fish-monger: It’s a family business. Flying Fish Co. was first started by his father, Craig Gildersleeve, in Sandpoint, ID. His sister Amber now runs the original shop after starting a third location in Durango, CO. After growing up in the business, Lyf understands the challenges farmers, fishermen and ranchers face when bringing their products to market. “When I buy something from a farmer or a fisherman I give them a check when they deliver,” he said. “I take the risk and don’t ask them to front it because I understand the need for cashflow.” (more…)

Gearing up for Organicology 2013

Monday, January 28th, 2013 by

It’s been a big year for organic. Earlier this year the Organic Trade Association released an infographic illustrating the mammoth economic impact of organic products : In 2011 alone the sector grew by nearly 10 percent to over $30 billion, with increased sales in organic fruits and vegetable contributing more than 50 percent of those new dollars. While that is excellent growth, Natalie Reitman-White, Director of Sustainability at Organically Grown Company, says it’s no time for folks who work in the organic food sector to rest on their laurels.

“The organic movement and the organic trade are living and breathing and constantly evolving based on the amount of energy we put into them,” she says. “As more people are turned onto organics and those products are becoming more available, it’s about understanding the variety that you have to choose from and who you’re supporting in the marketplace.”

That’s what she hopes participants will take away from this year’s Organicology conference happening Thursday-Saturday, Feb.7-9, 2013, at the Hilton Downtown in Portland, OR.

Now in its third year, the biannual conference brings together the organic food community – including growers, eaters and advocates – to advance knowledge of the sector and address challenges faced by organic food producers through workshops, networking, a trade show and keynote addresses from industry experts.

“While there are a lot of sustainable ag conferences, this is the premier venue for experts in the organic policy arena, as well as the organic farming and retail arenas to share their knowledge,” Reitman-White says. (more…)

FoodHub Member Connections: Pure Simple juices the Home Orchard Society

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 by

As a registered dietician, Dulcinea Ward found that many of her clients were buying health food products that had to be shipped from New York to the Pacific Northwest. Something about that didn’t seem quite right. Wasn’t there an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables right here that would not only taste better, but be fresher and higher in nutritional value?

So, in June 2011, she started her search for fresh, local, organic ingredients and created her line of Pure Simple Juices. Her product highlights the bounty of the Pacific Northwest and the seasonality of the region without the use of artificial sweeteners or preservatives, leaning instead on the natural sweetness of the fruit and vegetables she sources at the height of the season.

While she had always had an appreciation for the abundance and variety of local food available, she used her first season selling at the Portland Farmers’ Market to deepen her knowledge of the region’s seasonal fluctuations and used the content of the farmers’ stalls to inspire her juice offerings for the week.

“It was really sweet for me, being pretty new to food production, to be able to connect with local farmers, build those relationships, and have a better understanding of what was seasonal and available right then,” she said.

However, as her business grew she found herself in need of additional sources to keep her supply chain stocked. While she maintained the relationships she had forged at the farmers’ market new ones were needed to keep production up to par. (more…)

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