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Early Bird Registration open for Organic Food and Farming Summit!

For the past 30 years, Florida Organic Growers has been hard at work fighting for farmers in the name of organic agriculture and just food systems. To celebrate this momentous milestone, FOG is holding the inaugural Organic Food & Farming Summit September 17-19 in Gainesville.

This inaugural Summit is an opportunity for beginning and seasoned organic farmers and producers to learn and share with others growing in tropical and sub-tropical conditions and seasons.

The Summit will provide venues to interact and engage with leaders and peers in organic agriculture. Workshop sessions, farm tours, day-long trainings and a special keynote speaker are just a few of some the ways knowledge can be gained at this one-of-a-kind event.

There are multiple ways to partner with us to ensure a successful Summit including sponsorship, participating in the two day tradeshow or submitting a proposal to be a speaker. Visit the website to learn more!

The Summit will inspire, educate, and inform the diverse work of farmers, professionals, advocates, consumers, and others involved in Florida’s sustainable farm and food systems movement.

Early bird registration is now open, register today!

For more information, please contact Summit Coordinator Andi Emrich at andi@foginfo.org or 352-377-6345.

Gratitude and Thanks from Executive Director Marty Mesh

As I think back on this year and look toward 2017, I am filled with gratitude for the past and optimism for the future as, together, we have accomplished so much in growing the organic food and farming movement in Florida and beyond. There are so many challenges and so much work to be done going forward that it will clearly be a busy year!

This past year, we worked hard every day to increase access to organic, local food; support organic farmers; and provide information and resources to growers and consumers across the state. From expanding Fresh Access Bucks to more than 30 markets around the state to analyzing public policy and advocating for improvements in food safety, the Farm Bill and local food systems to hosting farmer workshops, we have worked towards making Florida’s organic food and farming movement a real political and economic force.

With your year-end, tax-deductible donation, we can maintain our momentum in 2017.

Next year marks our 30th year of fighting for organic farmers and strengthening local food systems. We have exciting plans for 2017 and want YOU to join us!

Connecting farmers with those who need us most

snap-fabIn 2017, Fresh Access Bucks will work with more than 45 direct-to-consumer outlets to benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida, massively increasing farmer revenue! The program will do this by training more than 350 farmer producers to accept SNAP/EBT at farmers markets and direct-to-consumer outlets around the state.

Growing the next generation of organic farmers

We are excited to continue our mission of educating organic farmers and equipping them with the tools needed for both short-term and long-term success. In addition to hosting multiple on-farm workshops in 2017, we are excited to again plan a statewide Organic Farmer Training workshop. Stay tuned for more details…we want you there!

Further, we are looking forward to continuing innovative ways to educate and train farmers about organic farming and local food systems.

Seeking change through collaboration

FOG will continue to drive public policy and advocacy on behalf of organic farmers and consumers who want to support such common sense priorities as better access to healthier food for all and for protecting our fragile natural resources. Our presence in Washington, D.C. for Hill days as well as active involvement with leading advocacy organizations has propelled organic and sustainable agriculture forward and helped broaden and deepen the understanding of its importance.

We have been fortunate to form supportive partnerships with like-minded businesses and organizations over the years and welcome more. The broader our networks become, the farther our impact can reach.

Your generosity is an act of hope

We are so thankful to those who support FOG – your contributions allow us to continue to invest in organic farmers, farmworkers and the education and research needed to help organic farmers be successful.

We need your support now more than ever – join us and let’s make a difference in our state and beyond.

Thank you in advance for your vital contribution.

Marty Mesh
Executive Director

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!

 

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.