As the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA) reflects on 2022, we think of the year as a great harvest. The bounty of 2022 was filled with blooming and budding relationships. Despite some frosty challenges, 2022’s fresh production of successes fulfilled us. Like freshly laid soil, we look at the ready landscape of 2023 with a sense of pride in how far we’ve come, an eagerness to plow forward, and steadiness to cultivate the seeds of 2023. Read on to hear from each HDFFA program or project leader about what they’re excited about in 2023.
Partnering in 2023
By Louise Shirley, Program Director & Katrina Van Dis, Executive Director
Everything we do at HDFFA, we do in collaboration with our regional partners and community members. We work with people to develop our programs, and seed feedback in order to make our programs more effective. In particular, our Agricultural Advisory Committee and Food Security Advisory Committee’s provide essential feedback.
In 2022, our Fresh Harvest Kit project reached 8,520 individuals because of dedicated local farmers, volunteers, and community organizations. We are fortunate to be connected to so many incredible people who share our vision of a prosperous food and farm network with equitable access for all Central Oregonians. Like a food system, HDFFA exists in a complex web of interconnectedness, with each of us filling a different niche.
We look forward to sowing the seeds with our partners to provide Fresh Harvest kits for the Friends of the Children – Central Oregon, supporting the food sovereignty being done with the tribal members and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs WIC Program, and developing programs with Shepherd’s House.
Thank you to all of our partners and supporters for helping us to achieve our vision! And if you’re interested in getting involved yourself, please consider signing up to volunteer.
By Abigail Gustke, Community Food Access Coordinator
Reflecting on this past year of the Grow & Give program, I feel empowered by signs of growth. The program collected the second-highest amount of produce since its beginnings in 2014, despite an uncannily cold spring. Through the efforts of 21 local farms, over 50 dedicated volunteers, and our HDFFA Farmers Market staff, our community harvested, lifted, and weighed over 26,000 pounds of fresh produce for NeighborImpact and their food pantry partners throughout Central Oregon.
Transitioning into 2023, I anticipate that the need for fresh produce and food access will continue to grow. In light of the social and economic turmoil following the COVID-19 pandemic and recent inflation, more Central Oregonians are struggling to put nutritious food on the table. In response, the Grow & Give program will hold more harvest events, expand our network of donating farms, and continue to reimburse HDFFA Farm Partners for their produce donations to continue to bolster the local food economy. By growing and giving food together, our community invests in our food system from the seed in the farmer’s hand to the table of those who need it most. Thank you!
By Andrea Smith, Agricultural Support Manager
HDFFA’s Agricultural Support encompasses a breadth of programming that increases the resiliency and viability of our region’s food producers. Our community of family farmers and ranchers is made of truly resilient, dealing with unpredictable market patterns, highly variable and inclement weather, ongoing drought conditions, and uncertainty in supply availability and costs.
In 2023, I’m thrilled to be able to hone our programming that has truly made a difference within our local food system. We will continue to build off of our ongoing projects that support these producers. Our Growing Together Mentorship Program, successfully launched in 2022, is expanding to serve more producers; the High Desert Food Trail is looking forward to its second summer celebrating this region’s local food economy; and through our On-Farm Efficiency Grant program, we will be able to fund even more opportunities for investment in local farms this year. We also have a few exciting opportunities in development to help our Partners reach larger audiences, so as a consumer, keep an eye out!
Everyone living in and visiting Central Oregon needs to eat. Those who steward the land to feed us are the backbone of our food system —and make the rest of HDFFA’s programs possible.
By Emily Ralston, Rural Food Security Coordinator
As the Rural Food Security Coordinator, there is much work to be done and inspiring projects to look forward to in 2023. One of these projects is FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture, Solutions, Together)! FEAST is a community-driven project that offers a system for community organizing and engagement that creates momentum for grassroots efforts around food throughout Oregon. With support from the Oregon Food Bank, I will be collaborating with the community of Madras to organize a FEAST event in the spring of this year. The 2023 FEAST is led by a team of dedicated, skilled, and unique Madras community leaders who will bring their community together around a shared meal with the goal of fostering a conversation about the local food system in Madras.
I am excited to invite YOU to engage with your local food system through the FEAST project. Look out for more information on where and when this event will be held, so you can join the conversation. Always keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities in rural communities in Central Oregon and join HDFFA in our mission to improve food access throughout Central Oregon.
By Kelly Moffatt, VeggieRx Coordinator
After taking a break in 2022, VeggieRx will be back in 2023! This fresh produce prescription program improves healthy eating habits for individuals experiencing food insecurity and diagnosed with diet-modifiable disease(s). VeggieRx participants eat more vegetables and fruits, experience less food insecurity, and feel more confident in their ability to stretch meals using fresh food and shop for produce on a budget.
As the program manager, I am excited that this coming season VeggieRx is expanding to enroll 100 participants! This is the most participants we have ever had. I am looking forward to connecting our local agriculture community to the VeggieRx community! If you are interested in supporting the VeggieRx program as a volunteer, please contact me.
By Kendra Huddleston, Outreach Coordinator
Every year HDFFA tirelessly develops and distributes the Food and Farm Directory. This is a free community resource in the form of a website, phone app, and print Directory where HDFFA partners with over 150 farmers, ranchers, and food businesses to make it easier to shop local (find local food at www.getataste.org).
In 2023, I am excited to continue fostering strong relationships with our current partners and uplift their work through new marketing opportunities. I look forward to cultivating new partnerships and learning how HDFFA can support them. Everyone deserves good food, and together we can make a difference in our community.
By Mariah Stone, Executive and Program Assistant
The High Desert Food and Farm Alliance is an incredible organization, and we as a team have our hands in many different aspects of the food system, from selling Local Food Boxes to helping the community get access to local food. Our programs as a whole make it easier for individuals and families to use their spending power to lift up local businesses and farms around us. It’s really special to be part of an organization that can help people get through the challenges that the last few years have presented.