The launching of a new Web-based project enabling real-time communication between consumers, farmers and other participants in the Puget Sound regional food system — and facilitating online food-related transactions — is scheduled to launch the first week of August.
The Northwest Agriculture Business Center will launch the Puget Sound Food Network at noon Aug. 6, at Rosabella’s Garden Bakery in Bow (8933 Farm to Market Road).
Attending will be key food system participants, including representatives of the farming, restaurant, and retail food sales industries. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, who were instrumental in securing the funds to create the Network, have also been invited to speak. The event will be co-hosted by Rosabella’s and Northwest Farm Credit Services.
The NABC online market access project, a regional network of agricultural growers and producers, retailers, and food service businesses, along with key infrastructure processing, storage, and transportation providers, has received a $400,000 grant as part of the 2007-08 U.S. Department of Commerce appropriation.
Executive Director David Bauermeister said, “The market access project will serve a vital purpose—helping rebuild the Puget Sound region’s dysfunctional food system. With skyrocketing fuel costs and increasing demand for locally produced food, having easily accessible, on-line information facilitating real-time transactions between food producers and consumers will be a key element in the creation of an efficient regional food system.”
Bauermeister said the goals of the project are to “help foster a regional food system that supports local agriculture and provides healthy foods to local communities; increase access to locally produced value-added products throughout the region, and enhance the economic viability and sustainability of family farms by providing new market opportunities.”
Bauermeister said the federal funding will provide initial capital to hire a project manager, build an internet-based network to house the communications system, recruit buyers and sellers to create transactions on-line, and promote the program to those involved in agriculture in the region.
The NABC project focuses on the portion of the Puget Sound region encompassing the 12 counties of Snohomish, Whatcom, King, Island, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Kitsap, Thurston, Jefferson, Mason, and Clallam.
NABC staff will hold a series of community meetings throughout the region beginning in August to encourage food system participants and the public to be involved in the network.
Also introduced on the 6th will be a new NABC-developed product, Skagit Fresh Natural Sparkling Juice Beverages — 100 percent natural, carbonated fruit drinks — as an example of local products that the on-line network will help bring to market. Local farmers will both provide the fruit for the new beverage and own the company that produces it.
For more information, visit www.agbizcenter.org or call (360) 336-3752.