Don’t Miss the WA Artisan Cheesemakers Festival!

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The third annual Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival returns to the Seattle Design Center on Saturday, September 27. This year’s festival will feature over 80 cheeses and dairy products from 23 Washington cheesemakers including many of the recent American Cheese Society award winners plus a plenty of mouth-watering tasting options to explore.

In addition to a stellar lineup of the local cheesemakers the event will also feature several artisan foods and beverages that are destined to be enjoyed with cheese, making the tasting experience even more delicious, inspiring and adventurous.

Participating producers:

  • Boat Street Pickles—Pickled Figs, French Plums, Pickled Raisins, Pickled Apricots
  • Columbia City Bakery—Bread and Pastries
  • Girl Meets Dirt—Cutting Preserves and Spoon Preserves
  • Hitchcock Deli—Charcuteries, Sauerkraut and Mustard
  • Simple & Crisp—Simple & Crisp Apple, Orange and Pear
  • Tease Chocolates—Truffles, Signature Bars, Toffees, Sugar Island Caramels
  • The Troubadour Baker—Spiced nuts, Semolina Nigella Biscuits and Smoked Paprika Coins
  • Diamond Knot Brewing— IPA, ESB and Blonde Ale
  • Iron Horse Brewery—Irish Death and High Five Hefe
  • Sound Brewery— Dubbel Entendre and Tripel Entendre
  • Diversion Wine Diversion Cabernet Sauvignon, Majestic Red, Merlot and Chardonnay
  • Lobo Hills 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Dry Riesling and 2010-11 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cider tasting by PCC Natural Markets featuring hard ciders by local producers

TIME

Saturday, September 27, 2014, 1:00-5:00pm

LOCATION

Seattle Design Center

5701 6th Avenue S., Seattle, WA 98108

Free parking available in the parking lot outside the building and an underground parking garage in the adjacent building.

ADMISSION

$35 advance tickets or $40 at the door

Admission includes all cheese samples and 3 drink tickets. Beer tastes are one drink ticket each and wine tastes are 2 drink tickets each.

Advance tickets are available online at www.washingtonartisancheese.com.

Must be 21 years old or older and have a valid ID to be admitted.

CHEESE TASTING

Now with nearly 60 cheesemakers who call it home, Washington State is becoming one of the most prominent cheese-producing states in the country. The Festival celebrates the vibrant local artisan cheese industry by showcasing a variety of cheese made in Washington State. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the cheesemakers and learn about their products, business and philosophy to enhance their tasting experience and appreciation for the art of cheesemaking.

ACCOMPANIMENTS

The Festival will also feature a variety of locally produced artisan foods and beverages including bread, charcuterie, jam, chocolate, and crackers to accompany or pair with the cheese. Try a beautifully aged sheeps milk cheese with a smear of chutney or a luscious blue cheese on a walnut levain with a touch of sweetness then add some spiced nuts and slices of charcuterie to complete the cheese plate.  Or experiment with different beers, wines or hard ciders to find a perfect match for your favorite cheese.

FESTIVAL CHEESE SHOP

Most of the featured cheeses will be available for purchase at the Festival Cheese Shop.

SEMINAR

For those who wish to hone their cheese know-how cheesemonger Sheri LaVigne from The Calf & Kid will guide you through a comprehensive tasting that will explore a diverse selection of cheeses made in the region and learn about the people, animals, and environment that make for the bounty of dairy products. Local beer and wine will be paired with cheeses along with other pairing elements from the area.  Seminar tickets are available at www.washingtonartisancheese.com.

BENEFICIARY

The Festival is a benefit for Cascade Harvest Coalition a Seattle based non-profit dedicated to supporting healthy farms, healthy food and healthy communities. Since 1999, the Coalition has been instrumental in building alliances and facilitating programs that support local growers, food buyers and consumers throughout Washington State to ensure access to locally grown food in all of the places that we live, work, shop, eat and play.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Web site: www.washingtonartisancheese.com

Email: info@washingtonartisancheese.com

Phone (press inquiries): (206) 915-0015

Slow Money Thriving in Oregon

Community investing efforts are growing across the Pacific Northwest! There are various LION networks in the region, different crowdsourcing efforts, and two formal networks in Oregon that have organized around Slow Money.

WFFC_circle_logoSouth Willamette Valley
Inspired by a visit from Woody Tasch to the University of Oregon in early 2013, a few attendees set out to help build resilience in their local food and farming economy. They went on to form Slow Money South Willamette Valley with a mission to catalyze low-interest loans to local, sustainable food and farming businesses in their region.  

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Slow Money SWV had their first public gathering in December 2013 where they catalyzed 3 loans to local food and farming entrepreneurs. In just over a year, they’ve catalyzed 10 loans totaling over $98K through a peer to peer lending format. 

For more info about SMSWV contact Erin Ely at erin@slowmoneyswv.org.

SOSlowMoneySouthern Oregon
Farther south in the Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon has its own network appropriately named SO Slow Money.

SO Slow Money had their 2nd annual Home Grown Finance event on August 5th with several local emerging farm successes. They brought in $47,500 in private Slow Money seed investments last year and 4 of the 8 companies currently in their summer accelerator came through SO Slow Money.

We are incredibly excited for the future of local sustainable farming in Oregon thanks to these sustainable food champions. These fellow Cascadians are “bringing people together around a shared vision. It starts with the soil, entrepreneurs are the seeds and Investors are the water.”

For more info about SO SLow Money contact Rosetta Shaw at rosetta@svtg.org.

Faith in food for Seattle’s Central District

clean greens farm
photo credit Camille Dohrn

Seattle’s newest farm to table operation, complete with a 22-acre vegetable farm in Duvall, wasn’t started by chefs in Capitol Hill. It wasn’t built by a farming collective in Ballard or a community co-op in Fremont. G.R.E.A.N. House Coffee & Cafe was started in the Central District by Reverend Robert Jeffrey Sr. and the New Hope Gospel Mission. Why? Because as the Reverend put it, “food is literally killing people.”

After health complications put Reverend Jeffrey in the hospital in 2007, he decided to create a solution in his own neighborhood. “Growing up in a family of sixteen children, we were very poor. I developed a kinship with those struggling with poverty early on, I guess I never lost that feeling,” said Jeffrey in a Clean Greens video. “People can use their collective strength to do something about their economic situation and one of those vehicles ultimately became food.” Their mission is about more than just a farmer’s market and restaurant. Its designed to help inspire and uplift an entire community.

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photo credit Camille Dohrn

Growing everything from beets, carrots and squash, to pumpkins, radishes and a bouquet of different greens, the program is giving the neighborhood new access and appreciation for local, sustainable food. The farm bringing’s a new generation of community members to the land every week. While volunteers get their hands dirty they’re learning about crops, soil and have a richer understanding of where their food comes from. But more than that, they are building a stronger community through a CSA program, local food donations to vulnerable neighbors, and offer lower prices that  working families can afford. New Hope and Clean Greens Farm are quietly shifting the Central District from a food desert, to a model for strong healthy communities.

sampling the veggies
photo credit Scott Royder

Supporting two markets and a CSA program, the organization is also working towards becoming financially self sustaining. Previously working solely from grants, donations and volunteers, New Hope opened up G.R.E.A.N. in February. The Reverend hopes the cafe will soon provide enough money to move the entire farm off of donations.

The cafe has a hometown feel, like a neighbor inviting you over for lunch. Solar retrofitted roof and all, this operation is a standard bearer on how to use healthy sustainable agriculture to empower communities.

The group’s former CSA director Roger Jeffrey put it best in a Clean Greens Farm video; “we have to get back to real community, and I think the key to that is finding common ground, the way we do that is through food.”

 

USDA Announces $78 Million to Boost Local Food

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Regional food received  an impressive new spurn of funding from the USDA last week. The money is split between the Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program ($48 million) and available grants from Agriculture Marketing Services ($30 million) targeted at giving much needed federal investment in “food hubs, farmers markets, aggregation and processing facilities, distribution services, and other local food business enterprises.” 

Locally sourced food now accounts for roughly $7 billion a year  in sales but with any emerging sector, cash investments are needed to continue its growth, and its exciting to see the USDA taking a proactive approach and creating new funding options for farmers, growers, and sellers of locally sourced food.

This comes in tandem with the 2014 Farm Bill tripling the funding for and renaming the existing Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to allow grants to support regional food system infrastructure, as well as direct marketing programs for farmers.

These new funds are available to a wide variety of regional food stakeholders including; cooperatives, non-profit organizations, corporations, partnerships or other legal entities, Indian tribes, public bodies or individuals.

The USDA is accepting applications for the funds on a rolling basis, so our Northwest regional food developers should get their applications in ASAP.

You can read all the details in the USDA’s press release here.

Early Registration for Food Systems Financing Web Course

cdfa-logoThis Friday (May 9th), is the last day of early bird registration for the Intro to Food Systems Financing Web Course from the Council of Development Finance Agencies.

This 2 day full immersion course (June 4-5), will address the financing challenges associated with growing, processing, distributing, marketing, and selling food. This is an opportunity for those looking to better understand financing options available to new and emerging food entrepreneurs. The course will discuss capital investment opportunities from federal, state and local governments, tax credits, loan and grant programs, as well as ways to build partnerships in your arena.

During each session, attendees can raise their hands, ask questions, comment on presentations and take interactive polls. CDFA’s Course Advisor moderates the WebCourse to ensure speaker and participant interaction throughout.

The early bird price is $550.00 for members and $675.00 for non-members and goes up $50.00 after this Friday.

This is a great opportunity to learn about how to catalyze your endeavor and find the type of funding designed for your specific needs.

For more information and to register for the event click here.

USDA Announces New Programs For Small and Mid-Sized Farms

northwest produce boxThere was more good news last week for small and mid-sized farmers with an announcement from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about new efforts from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to serve smaller farms.

This includes an expansion of the Farm Storage and Facility Loan Program, which provides low-interest financing to producers.  Since its inception in May 2000, the program has made over $33,000 loans, mostly to large and commodity farmers. The changes to the program will make it easier for diversified small and medium sized farmers to quality.  It also expands how the funds can be used to include produce cold storage and handling, with 23 new categories of eligible equipment including sorting bins, wash stations and other food safety related equipment. The loans will also have less strict security requirements, with loans up to $100,000 secured only by a promissory note. The USDA is also developing new tools to help these farmers and ranchers make better financial decisions when planning for their future, including a whole farm insurance policy that will better meet their needs.

While time will tell how these products perform in the marketplace, it shows a growing recognition among government officials of the importance of smaller, diversified farms.

Rockefeller Reports

The Rockefeller Foundation has been investigating the Social and Economic Equity in US Food and Agriculture Systems. As part of this work they have generated a series of intriguing reports with the most relevant beingBridging the Gap: Funding and Social Equity Across the Food System Supply Chain. As explained at their website, “This report examines the current state of funding for addressing the problems in the food system and promotes the goals and the vision for a healthier food system. It analyzes where capital is flowing and where it is not flowing, and what kinds of approaches are needed to increase the flow and effectiveness of capital where gaps currently exist. RSF Social Finance, a Slow Money ally, managed the report. View the report …

Job Opportunities at Angelic Organics

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Angelic Organics, a farm incubator and training program in Caledonia, Illinois, has two openings for motivated organic farm professionals.

Half-time Farm Finance Program Coordinator to help beginning farmers improve the economic viability of their farms through increased access to capital and financial products as well as supporting farmers in building business and financial management skills.

 

Go to http://www.learngrowconnect.org/ for more information and to apply.