As we start this new year we’re more inspired than ever to support a healthy and thriving food & farm network in Central Oregon. As we reflect on how far we’ve come – and how much work lies ahead – we would like to share some thoughts from our founder and Executive Director, Katrina Van Dis.
[The following questions were recently published in the Bend Bulletin]
What do you view as the best accomplishment of 2019 (in your field) and why?
The biggest accomplishment for HDFFA was making a difference in people’s lives. We donated 16,000 pounds of fresh local food to the food bank, we invested over $31,000 in the farm economy by providing greenhouse grants and VeggieRx vouchers, and provided hundreds of people nutrition education opportunities. We are excited to have initiated a couple of other projects that have been really successful. One is called the Fresh Harvest Kit, which is a ready-to-make meal kit for food pantry clients that includes fresh local food paired with pantry staple items, a recipe and spices. I’m particularly proud of this project because while we want everyone to have access to good food, we do focus specifically on improving access for food insecure residents (Central Oregonians that have limited access to affordable nutritious food). We are a small but mighty organization, and we are making a difference in people’s lives!
What do you believe can be accomplished in 2020?
In 2020, I want our vision to be realized. That people celebrate local food for the taste, the love, and the people who grow, raise and make the food. That farmers and ranchers are recognized for their hard work and commitment to the community and land. That local food businesses are chosen over imported food not only because they enjoy the product but because it supports our local food economy. I know that we will continue our food access programs to provide fresh local food to food insecure individuals and families; and I believe that more people will recognize the impact we have and support our efforts. I believe that as a community we are committed to local food and in 2020 if every person makes one small change towards supporting this value we can collectively make a difference.
What pressing issue needs to be addressed in 2020?
A global pressing need is how we are going to combat climate change and support our farmers and ranchers. The topic is highly controversial, but HDFFA’s values and mission align with supporting sustainable family farms that grow and raise food for our region. Regardless of one’s view on the topic, it is important that we, collectively, know where our food is coming from, that we support the producers that are stewards of our land, and that we push for regulations that support access to affordable land. The average piece of food travels 1,500 miles to our plates! I believe that it is important to eat local, seasonal food, and to get to know the farmers and ranchers and learn how they are stewards of the land. Ask any producer and they can tell you about their land conservation practices; they rely on the land to grow their crops or graze their animals. I think it is important that we are informed about what is being and can be done locally that will help address a global crisis.
What do you hope to see in 2020? How can we help our community grow? We would love to hear from you – and we hope to see you in the field, at the market, and enjoying local foods this spring.