Neighbor Loaves (& Meals)
As spring began, our work at the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative took to connecting several new local businesses to our Neighbor Loaves (& Meals) program. If you have not heard of the project, which was launched by The Artisan Grain Collaborative in March, it’s basically a way for customers to buy bread–and in our program, meals and bread–from local bakeries and restaurants that use at least 50% local staples in the ingredients. All purchases go directly to Food Access programs.
We thought it was a great way to support healthy food access while supporting farmers, millers, bakers and chefs, so we launched our version in June, 2020 with one bakery and one restaurant and have since added a grocer, a second bakery and a second restaurant.
The Village Bakery offers a sliced whole grain bread, which can be ordered HERE. They have sold more than 1400 loaves since June!
Additionally, we have been joined by Casa Nueva, a 30 year worker owned restaurant that pioneered local ingredients since they opened. They are offering a Vegetarian Chili, available HERE. The Kindred Market is now making a Bean and Sweet Potato Burger, which can be ordered HERE and Athens Bread Company will soon be offering a sliced Red Fife Sourdough.
Shagbark Seed & Mill
In 2019, Shagbark Seed & Mill received a planning grant with the Local Foods Promotion Program to increase production of regional grain, beans, and nuts by looking at three scenarios for Shagbark’s growth focusing on efficiency, products, and location. From a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant to a brand that is well known throughout our region, Shagbark is the boots on the ground Social Enterprise working to build a model for regional high nutrition staple foods to support farmers, address food security, and develop a network of local businesses that add value to the crops grown at regional scale.
With guidance and expertise from New Venture Advisors and additional partners from the Social Enterprise Ecosystem (SEE) program at The Voinovich School, SBDC, and local supporters who will review the scenarios to help Shagbark complete a dynamic plan for sustainability by fall.
Stay tuned for more about the vision to build a regional staple food center a reality in Shagbark Seed & Mill’s second decade!
Well before ASFC became part of Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture Program in 2019, Rural Action acted as ASFC’s fiscal sponsor on a 2009 grant that assessed what it would take to build a regional staple food system in Appalachia. The result was ASFC’s advisors prompting the launch of Shagbark Seed & Mill in 2010. (You can read more about the Shagbark journey to 2021, HERE.)
Millers Peer Group
The Millers Peer Group, which has been meeting monthly since December, has been a great way to connect millers with millers from all over the continent to talk shop about equipment, sales, regulations, crops and more! We start each meeting with a tour of one mill, then break out for discussions. In the next cycle, we will be discussing pricing, marketing and how to address climate strategies when crops fail. We now have 53 members with an average of 15 attending monthly calls. If you are a seasoned or new miller working on regional milling with crops from your region, join us! Send an email to email@example.com
NASN: North American Staples Network
For more than a year, ASFC has convened NASN, a group of food system leaders from across the country, who work with Grain, Bean, and/or Nut crops in their regions (see list of partners later in this issue of the Staple Pulse). We meet quarterly to share our best practices and staple food strategies for equity, climate disruption, seed production, and peer learning to build regional scale systems across North America. We’ve been delighted to see collaborations across regions form among our partners from Chatham University to the Artisan Grain Collaborative to Cascadia Grains.
If you are working in this space and want to join us, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org