Monday, March 16, 2009

Local Foods + Business = Success

Food plays a large role in our lives here in Green County. Family farms grow food, raise animals and milk cows. Our many cheese factories create award winning cheese. CSAs and market farmers grow vegetables. Established businesses like Swiss Colony, Minhas Brewery and New Glarus Brewery distribute goods nationwide.

There is a new initiative beginning that has the goal of getting more of our local foods into local homes as well as helping people start the value-added food businesses they have always dreamed of, but never had the resources or support to begin. The group, sponsored by UW Extension, is currently doing a survey to assess demand for a community kitchen in order to secure funding.

If you currently have a small local food business, from jelly making to cake decorating, or if you dream of a business, please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey. Green County Community Kitchen Survey If you yourself do not have these dreams, but you know of someone in the area who has an amazing salsa, if your neighbor gives away batches of delicious kettle chips, if your cousin creates sublime fudge, please pass this along. Sometimes all it takes is a suggestion and some support for a business to grow out of a hobby.

The group is also promoting two events this spring and summer along the local foods and business theme. See Jane Grow is a workshop presented by local author, business owner and director of the Rural Women’s Project, Lisa Kivirist. The workshop is described as "bringing together various tools, resources and networking opportunities for women passionate about food and agriculture." See Jane Grow is free, but pre-registration is required. Contact Cara at UW Extension (328-9431) to register. This event takes place at Kookaburra's on Monroe's Square on the evening of April 30, and it is co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Blackhawk Technical College and Green County Development Corporation.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council has also given the group a grant to fund a three part potluck discussion series this June, July and August. Stirring the Pot: Dialogue, Discussion and Dinner in Dairyland will feature a cooking demonstration, potluck and topical discussion led by national local food leaders each month. Mark your calendar for June 17, July 15 and August 19. The family friendly events will bring together area farmers, chefs, educators and anyone who appreciates our area’s rich food and agriculture traditions.

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