Farmshed: Three Steps to Build a Local Food Community


| 11/9/2018 10:49:00 AM


Farm Fresh Collaborators at Central Rivers Farmshed

How do you build and foster a local food community vibrant with area farmers and food artisans that also serves shoppers and eaters? Look to Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and the budding Central Rivers Farmshed as they serve as an inspiring model for local food community building and family farmer support. Their three key elements for success are collaboration, creativity and a cooperative mindset.

Our recent trip to Stevens Point quickly brought the “farmshed” concept to life. I was familiar with the concept of “watershed” that defines an area of land containing a common set of streams and rivers that drain into a single larger body of water. This same concept inspires Central Rivers Farmshed, crafting a common space that brings together in this case the various components of raising healthy food and community, creating something stronger together.

“Central Rivers Farmshed grew directly out of our community, tapping into our strengths and needs with an ultimate goal of supporting our area farmers and crafting a healthy local food scene,” explains Layne Cozzolino, Executive Director of this non-profit with a mission to grow a resilient local food community. “We didn’t have a clear vision of where we are today when area folks first started thinking and talking about sustainable food systems back around 2006. Our journey and learnings root in bringing people together to share needs, strengths and interests and what new things are needed that will benefit us all.”

Central Rivers Farmshed today involves creative re-use of a former garden center, now evolving into 35,000 square foot community food hub which currently houses a 7,000 square foot production greenhouse, community kitchen, gathering space where local groups like the Wisconsin Farmers Union meet, and learning center.



“Farmshed also exemplifies how supporting area farmers goes beyond simply what’s on our plate as the local food scene in our Stevens Point area is increasingly a draw for travelers,” shares Sara Brish, Executive Director of the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s the leadership of community members like Layne with a long-term commitment to this place and the health of our community, that make this area so appealing for folks to also move to and launch their new entrepreneurial start-ups.”



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