Outreach Director, Marquette Food Co-op & Co- Lead, UP Food Exchange, Marquette, MI
May 2, 2014
What is your role with Marquette Food Co-op?
NL: As Outreach Director for the Marquette Food Co-op, I oversee the daily operations of the Outreach Department and serve as our co-op’s representative on a variety of local, state, and federal committees and boards focused on strengthening community through support of sustainable agriculture and building a vibrant local food network. The Marquette Food Co-op Outreach Department provides information and training about healthy wholesome food choices. By establishing, building, and maintaining relationships within the Co-op and our community, we spread the word about good food!
How does the Marquette Food Co-op work toward the goals of the Good Food Charter?
NL: The Marquette Food Co-op operates on a Policy Governance system based on a set of policies. The Global Ends policies (similar to a mission statement) align closely with the Michigan Good Food Charter. The Marquette Food Cooperative exists so that our owners, customers, and community have access to organic and wholesome products and the benefits of a healthy, diverse, educated, and sustainable community.
What do you find most exciting or inspiring about what you’re doing?
NL: I truly enjoy the advocacy and policy work that I get to do on behalf of very small and small farms in the U.P. Policy change is needed in order to level the playing field and provide these farms with access to the same markets and benefits as farms of larger size. I also like helping the farming community raise its profile to a level where young people realize that becoming a farmer is a possible career opportunity.
What opportunities do you see for moving toward the goals of the Michigan Good Food Charter and where do you see those leading in the next five to ten years?
NL: The possibilities are endless. The beauty of the Charter is that the goals are specific, but how we reach those goals is based on the drive and creativity of the people, farms, businesses, and agencies across Michigan. Awareness of the Charter is the first step. Discussions about the Charter need to make their way out of local food and farming circles and into daily conversation in households around the state. Once that common language has been established, it will only be a matter of time before we see policy being developed to institutionalize the Charter goals and fulfillment of the goals will become a state-wide priority.
What is one thing you’ve learned through your experience that you’d like to share with others?
NL: It all comes back to the Charter. The Charter was developed by the people for the people. It provides a common roadmap for all those involved in local food to work together toward clearly stated goals that will strengthen our state’s food system and economy.