Today Fresh Greens introduces a new feature, posts from guest bloggers. The work of our guest bloggers will periodically appear on Wednesdays as we continue to expand the servings of local, sustainable news and thinking.
Rick Wicker writes about an exciting new local food program coming soon to central Oklahoma. An Oklahoma City resident for the past seven years, Rick is employed by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He loves the outdoors, gardening and Contra dancing, and is passionate about issues such as global warming, peak oil, sustainable energy and relocalization.
Thank you, Rick, for stepping up and delivering a local serving of sustainable news as Fresh Greens' first guest blogger.
A small gathering of locavores
by Rick Wicker
Recently, on a warm summer night about 30 locavores gathered on the deck porch of Irma’s Burger Shack in Oklahoma City. The occasion was to energize and organize a local chapter of Buy Fresh, Buy Local (BFBL). After munching on grass-fattened steer burgers, veggie-burgers and other Irma’s specialties, socializing with old and new friends, we got down to business.
Stephanie Jordan, of the Sierra Club, called the meeting to order and introduced Doug Walton of the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. The Kerr Center is the state coordinator of the BFBL program in Oklahoma. BFBL has been successful in other states and recently launched in northeast Oklahoma. The program promotes and markets locally produced, farm-fresh food to a broad range of consumers.
In northeast Oklahoma, the first project of the Green Country BFBL was to produce a local food guild that listed reasons to buy fresh local food, a chart showing when locally produced fruit and vegetables were in season, local farmers markets, local food markets and local food distributors such as the Oklahoma Food Coop.
As Walton explained, the local BFBL chapter can decide for itself what to include in a food guild or, alternatively, something else it wants to focus on. The local chapter can use BFBL materials and promotions, which are designed and intended to promote locally grown food. Geographically, the Green Country chapter includes the 18 counties in the northeast Oklahoma tourism district. Walton suggested that we start with the central Oklahoma district, or Frontier Country. But ultimately, we can define our own boundaries.
Many of the questions and discussions that followed focused on what to include in the food guild, whether we need to grow the consumer side more or the producer side or both simultaneously and how to do that, what role the local BFBL should assume in the community, what preliminary research or assessments need to be done, and what kinds of barriers/problems exist in the local food economy. The discussion was energetic and lively as could be expected from such a diverse and well-informed group. Some of the different groups represented included the Sierra Club, Sustainable OKC, Sustainable Norman, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, the Kerr Center, OSU-OKC Agricultural Extension, teachers, students, community gardeners, community organizers and a few producers.
In the end, left with more questions than answers, we agreed to meet again in one month, on Sept 23, a Tuesday, at 6:30, in Norman, at a to-be-announced location. Most of us thought that more producers need to be included in this project. And we all agreed to read up on the BFBL information sheets, do whatever individual research we thought was necessary and think about where we wanted the project to go. Personally, I feel very energized and believe this project could really be of substantial benefit to central Oklahoma, health wise, ecologically and economically.