Scaling Up! Benchmarking for Success Webinar

March 4, 2015 - Jessica Smith

This webinar features Jessica Smith of This Old Farm. It also includes Michigan Food Hub Network program updates and information on funding opportunities. 

Jessica Smith is a Purdue University Graduate with a background in Chemistry.  Jessica’s personal mission is to support family farms by offering full-scale services – from processing to marketing and distribution of locally raised, healthful meat, produce, and value added food. Jessica has expertise in sustainable agriculture, business plans, farm/ energy plans, and market studies. In addition, Jessica also provides consulting to help farm and food businesses achieve their goals and support rural economic development.

Webinar Transcription: 

Noel Bielaczyc: Hello everybody, it's 1 o'clock Eastern time, so we're going to get going on the webinar. I just want to introduce myself, my name is Noel Bielaczyc, the Center for Regional Food Systems. I along with Rich Pirog, Marty Gerencer and Chad Gerencer from Morse Marketing make up the core team for the Michigan Food Hub Learning and Innovation Network. And this is [audio skips] to bring you this webinar. So we have Jessica Smith here and we're going to be talking about program updates and about scaling up [audio skips]. We have quite a few updates in the beginning here, so we're going try to keep it moving. Again, presenters Rich Pirog needs no introduction I'm sure you all know who he is. Nancy Nyquist, our colleague from Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development is going to be with us briefly. And then we do have Jessica Smith who is the cofounder and owner of this Old Farm, which is a food hub located in Colfax, Indiana centered around a custom meat process facility. They deal with a lot of local farmers in their area and she's going to talk to us about her experience [audio skips] there. So just very briefly our agenda, I'm going to give a very quick updated called by Marty, Rich and Nancy will provide some more in depth updates about what's going on now and in the future for machine food hubs. And then we're going to cut to Jessica for the bulk of the webinar who will try and provide 20 minutes or more Q and A and discussion at the end so. Sure, I can try to speak up I guess. Is that a little better? I guess I'll just lean in a bit. So just very quickly I just wanted to mention the University of Vermont Food Hub Managers Certificate Program. This is something we were really excited to hear about and we're very thrilled to be having some of our Michigan Food Hub folks will be attending this program. It's the first kind in the nation, almost kind of a pilot program. The curriculum is going to cover the fundamentals of food hub management and operation. Classes begin on the 12th of January. So we're really excited that we'll have some Michigan participants there and if you are interested in learning some more you should check out their website it's a great program and we're just really excited to be a part of this. So with that I'm just going to turn it right over to Marty and she is going to talk a little bit about Boot Camp for Farmers Program that they.

Marty Gerencer: Hello everyone, this is Marty Gerencer with Morse Marketing Connections, Co-Convener of the Michigan Food Hub Network with the Center with Rich and Noel and with Chad. We just wanted to share a little bit with you about some workshops that we're doing funded by Michigan Department of Ag and Rural Development. And we're doing these workshops with farmers that are interested in supplying food hubs. They're occurring over the winter months here. Here's a quick look at the goals. We're focused on business and financial literacy and some on food safety. And our farmers have told us an increasing supply, especially to locations like food hubs, the two challenges they have are getting their business plan so that they can build their capacity and food safety. So that's why we focused on these as our goals. We're working with the food hubs in the state to host these workshops. Here's a look at the results that we actually did some in the past year as well and here's a look at some of the results we tried to evaluate after every session and learn and build from where we were. And here's the progress that the farmers have told us they've made beginning and after the workshop, around interest in actually doing a business plan or understanding how to complete one, selling to a food hub. And many of these wanted to learn how to and learned how to at our workshop and networking session. And then also working with other local wholesalers before and after, so that's how our results are stacking up. And here are the workshops that we're having here in January, February and March and we will post these to the MI Food Hub LISTSERV. You'll get information on them, but we're working in Lansing with Alan January 9th coming up here shortly. With the Flint Farmers Market and Mary Dunbrennan [assumed spelling] on January 20th. In Ann Arbor with Kim Bear [assumed spelling] and Washtenaw on February 10th and then with Sandra at the Albion Food Hub on March 20th. We also will have some food hub presentations likely at some of these workshops and there's plenty of networking time for your farmers, so please help us spread the word. So that's what I have I think we're moving on [audio skips].

Noel Bielaczyc: Great thanks Marty, I'm just going to hand it over here to Rich and he is going to talk about some upcoming program stuff. So here we go.

Rich Pirog: Thank you very, much, thank very much Noel. And for those of you that have not had a chance to meet Noel yet, I am glad to have Noel on board at the Center for Regional Food Systems. He started in October, joined our team, half of his time is with the Food Hub Network, half of the time he's working in livestock and meat supply chains [audio skips] livestock workgroup. So just a few things I know you're all anxious to hear from Jessica and first [audio skips] study on the first 30 months of work that we've done with this food hub network. We gave out copies at the November meeting and you can get these copies online at the center's website. We'll type in that actual URL for you before the end of the website, so you can have [audio skips]. Just wanted to also remind folks a number of you have heard about the Michigan Good Food Fund, a new initiative that will be launched in 2015. This fund if you're familiar with healthy food financing, the whole aspect of healthy food financing, there are initiatives in many other states and in some cities like California and Pennsylvania and Virginia, Colorado, Cincinnati. These funds in other states have focused on providing financing in the form of loans, primarily loans and then technical assistance to retail, food retail. What will differentiate things here in Michigan is that some of the funds of the Michigan Good Food Fund will go to nonretail. So they could go for example to food hubs. And so we're excited about that possibility here in Michigan. So the fund currently has $3.5 million in it through a money -- most of that money that's already in it comes from the Department of Treasury. It being held by a CDFI, a community development financial institution called Capital Impact Partners. They are going to be the holders of this fund. The target size for the fund over time is to and this is from both foundations and other public partners. The target is for hopefully up to $3 million, most of which will be in the form of loans, some may be in grants. And there will be the actual program guidelines that will be coming out after the first of the year. We hope sometime in the winter with more information. The Center for Regional Food Systems along with Fair Food Network and Capital Impact Partners are all sort of the on-the-ground organizations for the fund. A lot of the work is being coordinated and I would say the Kellogg Foundation has provided the leadership and will be providing a little bit of the funding for this fund as we move forward. The six things, actually the main goals -- there are six in total for the fund is obviously increasing access to healthy, affordable food. Equitable access to food and jobs. Helping expand the local food economy, environmental stewardship, increase the purchase of locally grown foods, and supporting new businesses. And for those of you, I'm sure many on this call, are familiar with the Michigan Good Food charter. The Michigan Good Food Fund, although it will have a different logo than the Michigan Good Food Charter is after the same set of goals, particularly around healthy food access jobs and communities in the economy. So if you're looking at this set of goals you can see the parallels to the Michigan Good Food Charter. At the Center for Regional Food Systems and through this Michigan Food Hub Network we hope to enhance the work that we're doing in the network as partners in the Michigan Good Food Fund by providing some opportunities. As Noel mentioned, there will be some opportunities for several of our hubs to get some financial assistance to be part of the Food Hub Manager Program. There will be additional opportunities for technical assistance and bringing additional food hub expertise into Michigan. I'm excited to announce that we do have a confirmed speaker at our March 3rd next statewide meeting from Common Market in Philadelphia either Hylie [assumed spelling] or Tatiana, they're the partners that run Common Market. One of them will be here and will be in the Battle Creek area and we're all excited about that. More to come about that. And lastly, to help the existing hubs and other food processing businesses that are interested in focusing on underserved communities. How can we help build their capacity? There may be some additional very specific projects coming down. So that is all that I have I'm going to turn things back to Noel.

Noel Bielaczyc: Sure, thanks Rich and again, we'll send out more information March 3rd meeting, save the date for that. The exact location is to be announced, but that [audio skips] soon. So with that I'm going to turn things over to Nancy Nyquist from MDARD. Looking forward to hearing her update on some really exciting opportunities there happening in Michigan right now so. Go ahead Nancy, it's all yours.

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