Some thoughts

Some thoughts about the still-emerging structure of Spring Creek Homesteading Fund and rough guess about where things are headed over the next few months.

Updates on the four program areas:

Fundraising – Since late summer, I’ve been working with Anne Burgevin, Ann Echols, Dana Stuchul, Josh Lambert and Bob Rayman to incorporate the nonprofit and open a bank account. Next steps are to adopt bylaws and basic policies, continue drafting administrative documents, and order checks to be able to pay the first group of instructors and facilities costs for the first set of workshops. Dana, Josh and I comprise the first Board of Directors; I’m continuing to work as coordinator and blog editor.

Building – A few weeks ago, I met with Joyce Eveleth, Courtney Hayden and Alan Sam at State College Borough public works, to begin figuring out our respective roles in identifying public land for food gardens and linking volunteer gardeners and urban farmers with those parcels. Next steps are to continue coordinating with Joyce and other Borough staff to schedule a large local food system-building meeting in mid-November. I need help identifying key contacts and organizations we’d like to see participating in that meeting (See the initial list at the blog post – Making a list… – and please send me any contact information or additional farms and other organizations to add.)

My vision of the meeting format would be a two-hour evening potluck event – children welcome – asking each participant to bring a dish made with seasonal local ingredients to share, and asking each participant to fill out two index cards (one asking for “Three Things You Need from the Local Food Support System” and “Three Things You Can Offer to the Local Food Support System” – the other card asking for “Three Things You Don’t Want from the Local Food Support System” and “Three Things You Don’t Want to be asked to Contribute to the Local Food Support System.” After those cards are filled out and collected, I’d like the rest of the meeting to be people just eating and talking together. I haven’t spoken with Borough staff about that meeting format yet, but will throw it into the mix as our planning discussions move along.

Reskilling – I’ve been working with Mary Jo Lenzing, Sunil Patel, Carolyne Meehan, Anne Burgevin, Ruth Sauder, Dylan Wadlington, Alexa Schriempf and Jackie Bonomo to develop a preliminary workshop schedule for October and November, focused on cooking, baking, beekeeping, composting, carpentry sewing and knitting. Next steps are to finish gathering instructors’ time availability, arrange for facilities rental with State College Area School District physical plant staff, and then finalize and publicize the schedule to begin registering people for the courses.

Mapping/Needs Assessment – Jackie Bonomo, Dorothy Blair, Sylvia Neely, Linda Tataliba, Anna Kochersperger, Mark Maloney, Rachel Mateti, Sarah Potter, Bill Sharp and several others have been meeting regularly for a few months to discuss mapping and needs assessment.

The SurveyMonkey poll in early August identified the following top 10 mapping priorities: water sources; open plots of land suitable for growing; community gardens; farms; annual food consumption data; annual farm food production data; CSA farms; farming/gardening education programs; people with sustainability relevant skills & expertise; community kitchens/canneries & slaughter facilities.

I think some of those data sets can be combined for the first data collection round:

  1. water sources,
  2. open plots of sunny land near water supplies,
  3. farms including CSAs and community gardens, and
  4. annual food consumption and production for Centre County (using NASS reports).

leaving the education, people and community kitchens data mapping for later. Once the data collection and uploading process starts, my hope is that we can have a good basic map ready by the first week of November, and available for the mid-November meeting.

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