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FOG offers SNAP Tech Support for Florida Farmers and Farmers Markets

FOG is now offering SNAP Tech Support, a program that offers guidance, advice and resources for Florida farmers and farmers markets interested in accepting SNAP benefits (formally known as food stamps).

If you’re interested in growing your customer base, increasing your sales, expanding access to healthy foods, and strengthening your local community and farms, then accepting SNAP as a payment option might be right for you! See the flier below for more details and how you can start accepting SNAP!

 

Introduction to Food Justice Certification

AJP FJC logo

Introduction to Food Justice Certification

Fairness – in payments to farmers for their products, in pay and working conditions for farmworkers – is included in the four principles of organic agriculture, though left out of the National Organic Program.  The Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certification is one way to ensure fairness is happening on and for organic farms.

The market is shifting towards a fair and healthy food system for the people that work the land, in addition to the land itself. Consumer demand for ethical purchasing is on the rise with 31% looking for fair trade food labeling (Consumer report 2014).

What does the Food Justice Certification program represent?

  • Rigorous environmental requirements for biodiversity, soil health, and animal welfare through application of Organic Certification standards
  • Third-party certification
  • Highest standards for fair and ethical labor and fair trade practices
  • IFOAM and ILO principles of social justice
  • Truth in labeling and transparent policies
  • Governance by food system stakeholders

Food Justice Certification is a domestic fair trade label created by the Agricultural Justice Project.  You can read the standards and policy manual on the AJP website. For evaluations of the Food Justice Certified label and program visit the Fair Facts program of the Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA) and the Greener Choices program of Consumer Reports.

Find extensive resources for farmers in the online tool-kit:

  1. A self-assessment check list so a farmer can evaluate readiness for FJC
  2. A self-assessment check list for fair pricing
  3. A downloadable template for labor policies so that a farmer can quickly create a set of employee guidelines that are FJC compliant
  4. Intern learning contract examples
  5. Resources on calculating production costs as basis for pricing that fully covers these costs
  6. A guide to fair contracts

For a guide to the certification process, please read our Steps to Certification.

Blueberry Plants for Sale!

On Sunday April 3the University of Florida group, Florida Alternative Breaks, spent their afternoon at the Green Market Nursery tending to Blueberry plants that are currently being sold as a fundraiser for Florida Organic Growers. The group tediously weeded each of the plants individually, added nutrient rich compost and aligned the pots into orderly rows.

The plants are looking great and are ready for purchase thanks to Florida Alternative Breaks generous time and helping hands!

Each plant is $15. When a purchase of 3 to 9 plants is made there is a 5% discount applied. A purchase of 10 or more plants is discounted 10%. Bulk deal pricing is also optional.

If you are interested in supporting Florida Organic Growers by purchasing some beautiful blueberry plants, please contact officeassistant@foginfo.org.

Conversations with an Agrarian Farmer featuring Jim Gerritsen

Celebrating Earth Day 2016! 

WHEN:    Saturday, April 23, 2016

WHERE:    Indigo Bistro Restaurant, 1690 Raymond Diehl Rd, Tallahassee  32308

Listening session and feast!

  • 3:30pm:    Organic farming, growing the best potatoes
  • 5:00pm:    Building Food Integrity in the Organic Community
  • EARTH DAY Feast:  A delightful supper of seasonal locally sourced produce from our local farmers, deliciously prepared by Tallahassee’s Indigo Bistro Organic Restaurant.

REGISTRATION:  $25.00/person by April 19, 2016  

REGISTER HERE!!

This Earth Day listening session & feast is a collaborative effort of the community including FAMU StateWide Small Farm Program, IFAS/Cooperative Extension-Leon County, Sustainable Tallahassee, Local Small Farmers, and Indigo Organic Restaurant.

About Jim Gerritsen:

Jim Gerritsen, along with his wife Megan, is an organic farmer who has owned and run Wood Prairie Family Farm in northern Maine for 40 years. Wood Prairie Family Farm  certified organic since the early 1980s produces Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, seed crops, vegetables and grain. 

In addition to farming, Jim has been active in the organic  community with NGOs for four decades.  He served as President of the educational and research NGO, Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) in Washington State. Additionally, he served for over twenty years on the Certification Committee of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA).  Jim helped MOFGA pass the State of Maine’s GMO Labeling law in 2013, the second such law passed in the United States. Jim also serves on the MOFGA Ag Services Committee.

For additional information contact: Florida A&M University StateWide Small Farm Program/College of Agriculture and Food Sciences.  Jennifer.Taylor@famu.edu 850-412-5260.

REGISTER TODAY!

 

Whole Foods Market® Partners with Florida Organic Growers for Region-Wide Donate Your Dime Campaign

WHOLE FOODS MARKET® PARTNERS WITH FLORIDA ORGANIC GROWERS FOR REGION-WIDE DONATE YOUR DIME CAMPAIGN

Florida Organic Growers, First Regional Participant in Quarterly Initiative

Whole Foods Market, America’s healthiest grocery store, is partnering with Florida Organic Growers (FOG) for its first region-wide Donate Your Dime Campaign. The quarterly initiative launched its second term on Monday, January 18, 2016. Traditionally, each store partners with a different local organization for the program. In an effort to collectively raise awareness and funds for FOG, all 25 Florida stores have joined forces to maximize efforts. This also marks the first time in Whole Foods Market history that a region partners for the Donate Your Dime program.

The program consists of Whole Foods Market giving back ten cents per bag to customers who re-use their own shopping bags for their purchased groceries. Customers then have the choice to accept it as a discount on their bill or donate the cash back to the store’s chosen non-profit organization or to the Whole Planet Foundation.

Each fiscal quarter, Whole Foods Market selects a local non-profit partner who receives a donation of monies collected during that three month period. The Donate Your Dime Program has been an ongoing initiative for Whole Foods Market Florida region since 1997.

“When customers choose to reuse their bags, they are making a very positive impact for the environment,” said Karen Doyle, Whole Foods Market’s Regional Healthy Eating and Green Mission Specialist. “Most plastic bags end up in the landfill because they are not accepted in most residential recycling centers. Plastic bags are one of the most common items polluting our environment eventually ending up in our waterways and oceans.”

Florida Organic Growers is a Florida non-profit organization that promotes organic agriculture and healthy and just food systems by informing producers, consumers, media, institutions and governments about the benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture.

“We are extremely grateful to Whole Foods Market for the Donate Your Dime partnership,” said Florida Organic Growers Executive Director Marty Mesh. “This campaign will allow us to share our passion for organic, healthy and just food and farm systems with the Whole Foods Market community. Funds raised from this campaign will benefit our statewide, national and international education initiatives, various projects and improving public policy. As pioneers in the transformation of Florida’s organic food and farming movement, we are excited for this opportunity.”

Non-profits interested in partnering with Whole Foods Market for the Donate Your Dime initiative can submit applications online at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/florida-community-giving.

FOG partners with the USDA to make organic certification more attainable for farmers

As 2015 comes to a close, we reflect on our amazing accomplishments this year through Moving Mondays, a campaign that spotlights how we are making efforts to improve the food landscape in Florida.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work.

Last month, we partnered with Little Bean Productions and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program to launch a video series called Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by Bite as part of the USDA Sound and Sensible Initiative, a campaign that aims to make organic certification more accessible, affordable and attainable.

The multi-part series provides a step-by-step overview of organic production requirements and the process of organic certification—by farmers, for farmers.

Featuring both farm footage and animation, the videos aim to be easily digestible and succinct; each video covers a different topic so viewers can pick and choose to watch the videos that correspond directly with their interests or questions. Viewers can watch the whole series to get a holistic overview of the entire certification process.

Throughout the 26 videos, farmers discuss their firsthand experiences with obtaining organic certification and why they decided to pursue it.

We were one of 14 organizations awarded a project contract with a goal to advance the USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) Sound and Sensible Initiative by identifying and removing barriers to certification and streamlining the certification process.

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community. When you support FOG, you support family farmers throughout Florida and beyond.

Won’t you join with us in 2016 as we change Florida’s food landscape?

FOG expands technical support to farmers and markets wishing to accept SNAP

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community. We want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work. 

In October, we were awarded a Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG) to increase the capacity of our Fresh Access Bucks farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.KYV Farm

Fresh Access Bucks is a statewide incentive program designed to encourage SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers markets to purchase fresh, healthy foods directly from Florida
farmers. At participating markets, FOG matches what a SNAP cardholder spends with FREE Fresh Access Bucks – up to $20, every market day. Customers can use them right away or later on to buy Florida grown fruits and vegetables. For example, a SNAP shopper who spends $10 of their SNAP benefits at a participating market receives an additional $10 to purchase fresh, local produce.

The grant funding will increase the capacity of 20 Fresh Access Bucks partners managing the participation of SNAP at 29 farmers markets.

It does so by providing each partner with funding to hire part-time staff to manage SNAP activities for the markets. By providing the partners with funding for part-time staff over two years, we anticipate greater SNAP redemption rates at these 29 markets through increased outreach and visibility of the program.

This is huge for our efforts in Florida!

In addition to supporting the establishment, management and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at farmers markets, FMSS grant funds will also expand our technical support to farmers and farmers markets wishing to accept SNAP.

Won’t you join with us as we change Florida’s food landscape?

FOG supports the formation of agricultural cooperatives

 

As 2015 comes to a close, we want to reflect on our amazing accomplishments this year through our Moving Monday campaign, a weekly email sent Mondays throughout the month of December that spotlights how we are changing the food landscape throughout Florida.

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community so we want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work.

KYV Farm WorkshopThis past spring, we worked with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and Rural Advancement Foundation International with the support of the USDA AMS – Local Food Promotion Program to help support the formation of agricultural cooperatives in the North Central Florida.

Farmers throughout the state have been taking great strides to join forces for greater efficiency, economy and camaraderie. FOG’s work on this project gathered over 60 farmers throughout the North Central region of the state to discuss and plan potential avenues for cooperation.

Farmer-owned, farmer-controlled organization could potentially aid in the distribution, sales and marketing for many farmers. By working together, local communities could receive greater access to sustainably-raised local goods, as well as increasing the income and resources of our Florida farmers.

In order to continue growing the momentum for our local and regional food systems through cooperatives and beyond, we need your support!

Please join with us as we continue this program and create a sustainable, local, just, organic food and farm system that is environmentally and ethically sound.

Let’s change the Florida food landscape together!

 

What moves you to foster change?

As 2015 comes to a close, we want to reflect on our amazing accomplishments this year through our Moving Monday campaign that spotlights how we are changing the food landscape throughout Florida.

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community so we want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work.

 This past April was an amazing month for FOG as we received a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant, which supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase.

Our proposal, “Fresh Access Bucks: Increasing Food Access And Florida Farmer Sales At Markets Statewide” will serve 50 markets over a 3-year period located in at least 21 counties throughout Florida!

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) increases the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by enabling farmers markets to accept EBT and allows SNAP users to purchase double-their-food dollars for
fresh, Florida-grown produce at farmers markets. Englewood FM manager Lee and SNAP Manager Amy

Eight months into our project, we have already partnered with 28 markets in low-income communities and work with various community organizations, private businesses, and state and local government agencies to implement this program.

Ultimately, this project will benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida and will increase farmer revenue by $2.1 million.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than $200,000 was generated in revenue for Florida grown produce, more than 150 Florida farmers participated and expanded to more than 3,000 new market shoppers.

In order to continue to serve communities throughout Florida with various workshops and programs associated with this grant, we need your support!

Join with us as we continue this program and create a sustainable, local, just, organic food and farm system that is environmentally and ethically sound.

 Let’s change the Florida food landscape together!

Florida Organic Growers partners in launch of video series to help demystify organic certification

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) and Little Bean Productions have cooperated with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program to launch a video series called Organic Certification Made Simple: Bite by Bite as part of the USDA Sound and Sensible Initiative, a campaign that aims to make organic certification more accessible, affordable and attainable.

The multi-part series provides a step-by-step overview of organic production requirements and the process of organic certification—by farmers, for farmers. Featuring both farm footage and animation, the videos aim to be easily digestible and succinct; each video covers a different topic so viewers can pick and choose to watch the videos that correspond directly with their interests or questions. Viewers can watch the whole series to get a holistic overview of the entire certification process.

“Our series is meant to help direct-market growers who are using sustainable practices understand that getting certified organic may not be a huge stretch for them,” said FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh, “and many consumers and wholesalers are looking for certified organic products, so getting certified could open up markets for them and make their businesses more viable.”

Throughout the 26 videos, farmers discuss their firsthand experiences with obtaining organic certification and why they decided to pursue it. One segment follows a direct market farmer on his journey through the organic certification process to show viewers how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations translate to practices on the ground.

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“Many see organic certification as a daunting process, but Bite by Bite is full of visually engaging practical information while highlighting peer-to-peer communication with all the organic farmers we feature,” said Shelley Rogers of Little Bean Productions, director/producer of the series.

FOG was one of 14 organizations awarded a project contract with a goal to advance the USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) Sound and Sensible Initiative by identifying and removing barriers to certification and streamlining the certification process.

To view the video series, please click here.