Eat Mendocino

2 women, 365 days, 3,878 square miles


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Keep your giving as local as it gets on Giving Tuesday!

When our year of eating local ended, it was just the beginning of answering a new question: how could we actually make more local food available to more people? Like, normal people and not just some crazy locavores who would drive 150 miles to pick up duck eggs, oranges, or butter.

Gowan’s answer was to buy a farm with her family in Caspar and grow a bunch of food while sequestering carbon through composting and regenerative grazing. My answer was to start a non-profit organization called Good Farm Fund. I actually didn’t set out to start a non-profit, I just wanted to find a way for people to support local farms directly. From my job managing the Mendocino Farmers Market, I saw firsthand how tight the margins were for farmers, and that they couldn’t afford the most basic infrastructure improvements necessary to grow more food.

I also believed that the community wanted to do more than just shop at the markets or farm stands. People love our local farms, and they provide so much more value than just calories. What was missing was a way to actually invest in them. I had been producing farm-to-table events for a couple years, and I simply wanted to start hosting events to raise money for farms.

The problem was that we needed a bank account to put the money in and some farm-appropriate criteria for funding projects…. Thus, Good Farm Fund was born. We created a volunteer-led organization run by people who had a stake in local farms’ success and created a Farm Grant program that minimized red-tap and maximized the impact to small farms. Grants are awarded based on financial need, and the capacity to increase access to local food for underserved members of our community.

When we announce our 2020 Farm Grant Recipients at the end of this month, we will have awarded $250,000 in grants in six years.

This money has funded infrastructure development on farms throughout Mendocino & Lake Counties. We have funded ranching operations, vegetable producers, grain and bean farmers, bread bakers, and mushroom cultivators. We have financed items as small as hand tools and compost spraying backpacks to tractors, greenhouses, and cold storage buildings. Read more about the projects we have funded at www.goodfarmfund.org. These are some snapshots of past grantees:

These projects have had reverberating impacts in the farming community, often with multiple farms benefiting from shared infrastructure. For example, the cold storage building we funded for New Agrarian Collective has been utilized by neighboring ranches, and provided backup refrigeration for other farms during power outages – and even helped store trees that were being replanted after the Redwood Complex Fire.

When pandemic related food shortages hit this spring, many of the farms we have funded were able to provide critical food relief to hundreds of community members in need. Although we have canceled all events this year due to COVID-19, local farming is more essential than ever, as is continued community support. We are a volunteer led organization and raise all of our money locally, through events and sponsorships.

Usually, in the first week of December we host a fabulous Winter Feast at Barra Vineyards in Redwood Valley (pictures from the 2018 event below). This is one of our two major annual fundraisers, and we really miss coming together with many of you to celebrate and eat!

Instead, we invite you to chose a cause very local to your plate and make a gift to Good Farm Fund this #GivingTuesday. A gift to Good Farm Fund is a thank you to local farms, and an investment in a more sustainable, resilient, and delicious community!

Join us by making a gift today, and sign up for our e-newsletter at www.goodfarmfund.org & follow us on Facebook & Instagram.


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Good Farm Fund Benefit Dinner serves up a side dish of hope

Tomorrow night is my favorite event of the year. And it’s not because of the unparalleled farm to table menu, fancy locally-distilled cocktails, lovely summertime gathering of so many friends and community members, or the fact that we will raise thousands of dollars for local farms. It’s because of what happened when I went to the Dollar Store the other night to buy a few final event supplies…

germain_robin

(Yes, I know. “Eat Local & Shop Local?” Almost everything for the event is locally and consciously sourced/upcycled/reusable. It’s an imperfect wabi-sabi world… So I’m hoping you can suspend judgment about my trip to the Dollar Store, and that I bought a Snickers bar and ate it.)

I needed to purchase picture frames to put on each table for the 3rd Annual Good Farm Fund Benefit Dinner at Yokayo Ranch in Ukiah tomorrow night. We have 26 badass chefs and restaurants attending this year’s event, and each one is paired with local farms to create a special edition locally-sourced menu item served up in small plates all night long along with local wine, beer, spirits, and kombucha. I needed a lot of picture frames to capture this lineup.
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Being in the Dollar Store means facing the unpleasant state of everything I wish were different. A bunch of imported cheap toxic plastic crap creating an illusion of abundance in an over-extracted and underfed world. A mother shopping for a graduate gift with chattering teeth and mumbling to herself, clearly strung out on meth. A young and able-bodied panhandler shamefully asking someone to buy him dinner which eventually manifests as a liter of soda, a bag of chips, and a stick of beef jerky. This is not food, and this is not the world I want.

I walked out with a box full of picture frames in my arms and a heavy heart. I almost wanted to turn around and return everything, hoping it would undo the whole experience – or at least cut into the Dollar Store’s profits by $30. But, as I drove away in the misty coastal rain, I wished not to undo a thing. Because I remembered this is exactly why we founded this organization. It’s exactly why we do this event. Because doing something small and imperfect is so much better than closing your eyes and pretending or wishing that everyone had real food on the table, and a job, and a loving mother.

When Gowan and I completed the year of eating local food, we realized that if enough people tried to do what we did even some of the time, there would be massive food shortages immediately. So she and her family purchased a 40 acre farm in Caspar and set out to produce more food for our community. For me, the question became: how can we scale up local food production and access throughout the county, so that it’s not such a rare – or elitist – endeavor?

This led to the founding of Good Farm Fund. This volunteer-led organization simply wanted to put money in farmers’ pockets so they could farm more land and produce more food, while battling an industrial food system that is rigged against them. In only two years, we have had a real impact on local farms as well as low-income people in our community. Good Farm Fund’s mission is to fund infrastructure development on local farms, and help make local food more affordable for everyone.

goodfarmfundlogoyellowAll event proceeds support Good Farm Fund’s two initiatives:  (1) Funding the EBT/Food Stamp Match at farmers markets to subsidize the cost of local food for families who can’t afford it and (2) The Farm Grant Program which helps support and grow small, local food farms by funding capacity-building projects like greenhouses, farmstands, equipment, and fencing. In 2016, we awarded $20,000 in farm grants to fourteen local farms. Read about our past grant recipients here!

We raise all of the money to do this work right here in Mendocino County through farm-to-table events and generous support from local businesses and community members. That’s the point after all – building sovereignty and resilience in the place we call home, and investing in the future of our local foodshed now.

So, if you haven’t gotten your ticket, yet get it now and come raise your glass to that tomorrow night. It’s a beautiful evening and it’s a chance to do something toward building a different food system while feasting on local food as you have never seen it before. If you can’t make it, but would like to sponsor someone else’s attendance, holler. Or make a donation directly on our website.

xo,
Sarah

Sneak preview of the menu…

Sisters Ridge Chicken Potstickers with Floodgate Farm Loganberry Glaze & Famous Greens

Goat Merguez Sausage Flatbread with Harissa Creme Fraiche and Fermented Veggie Pickle

Crostini with Pastured Chicken Liver Pate with Cherry Ollalieberry Compote

For more info: