State College Food Security Summit – Doodle Poll Scheduling

There are a whole lot of people in and around State College thinking about food security, farmers markets, farm profitability, promotion of urban gardening, reskilling and related issues.

The ideas have been circulating for years, and there are many farmers markets, CSAs, backyard gardens and workshop programs already going because of the hard work put in by many people – Downtown Farmers Markets, Downtown State College Improvement District, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Borough Council, the Food Bank, Penn State Center for Sustainability, Clearwater Conservancy/GardenStarters, Neo-Terra, Centre County Parks & Recreation, Transition Town State College, Penns Creek Conservation Association, Centre Region Council of Governments, and many more.

In light of enthusiastic response to a December 2010 column I wrote about the potential for State College to support a year-round, downtown, indoor farmers market/community garden/public space (some background here) and other recent developments – it seems like a good time to try bringing some of the driving people behind these many initiatives together into a coalition with the expertise, knowledge, funding, facilities, and leadership to prepare a community-wide food security network that would make State College more resilient as food prices rise.
Elements I’ve heard discussed, in various forums over the past year, include Outdoor components:
  • Community gardens
  • Permaculture demonstration gardens
  • seasonal farmers markets

and Indoor components:

  • Year-round farmers market
  • stronger Food Bank 
  • Community Kitchen (public food preservation classes)
  • Tool Library (gardening implements, carpentry workshop)
  • Reskilling Program (cold frames, rain barrels, solar ovens, raised beds, graywater systems, seed-saving, etc.)
If you’re interested in participating in a sit-down-and-hash-out-a-plan-and-timeline meeting in late June/early July, please go to this Doodle link and enter your availability.
The point of the meeting would be to identify the specific money, buildings, materials and people we need to develop an even-more resilient local food system for State College, and to set up a timeline for putting those things in place.
  • Depending on who’s available when, I’ll find a space big enough to meet our needs.
  • If you know other people who might be interested in this coalition-building/capital/institutional project, please forward this message to them, and send me their address to be added to the (growing!) mailing list.
  • If you’d like to discuss the ideas further before participating in a meeting, please call Scot Chambers at 814-574-9267 or email me (katherine_watt@hotmail.com).
  • If having child care available would increase your availability, please send me an email so I can think about arranging for child care in a room near the meeting room.
In the meantime, there’s a grant program that may provide up to $100,000 for eligible projects related to sustainable food system planning and implementation. (Notice here.)  I’d like to put together a grant application and would like assistance from people with grant-writing and business-plan writing experience, so please contact me if you have that skill set and would be willing to help.
The deadline is July 1, so it’s already a stretch, but I’d like to at least explore whether it’s worth applying before bypassing the opportunity, because it might be a great way to get a solid next step toward a strong, secure local food system.
-Katherine Watt, Blog Editor
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