Demand for locally produced food has been growing steadily over the last several years. In order to meet that demand, local farmers – in concert with Farmers Guilds, granges, and organizations like North Coast Opportunities and certified farmers’ market associations – are working to rebuild a vibrant agricultural economy in Lake and Mendocino Counties.
Take just Mendocino County for example. Residents spend $137 million a year on food eaten at home. Less than 1% of that is spent on food produced in the county. If residents were able to source, and purchase, just 15% of their food from local producers, we would retain $20 million in the local economy.
This additional revenue flows back to our food producers which they invest back into their farm, hire employees, and produce more food. All of this leads to more food being produced locally. The best thing you can do is to purchase locally produced foods. You may not be able to source all of your food locally, but you can look to buy from local food producers first.
There are many people and programs in place to accomplish these goals. Our region is not only blessed with a gorgeous natural environment, but we have an amazing array of farms and skilled farmers. Meet Your Farmers Here.
Below is a list of programs and organizations working to build a viable local food system:
The Mendo Lake Food Hub connects food grown by local farmers with local wholesale buyers such as retailers, restaurants, schools, and buying clubs. Learn More.
There are now nine certified farmers’ markets throughout the two counties. Programs such as the EBT match program, which doubles CalFresh user’s dollars, have allowed a whole new audience access to local, fresh food. Learn More About Mendo Lake Farmers’ Markets.
The Grange Farm School is training the next generation of farmers. They train the whole farmer by teaching holistic agricultural production methods coupled with industrial arts, business, and marketing skills. Learn More.
Farm to School is an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers while helping school kitchens upgrade their equipment and capacity. Learn More.
Healthy Harvest Workshops are designed to develop food self-reliance. The workshops are part of the Food PREP program at North Coast Opportunities which cultivates connections from field to plate. These workshops help residents cook simple, healthy meals using locally grown produce. Learn More.
The Gardens Project facilitates the development of community-supported gardens throughout Lake and Mendocino Counties. Learn More.
The Anderson Valley Food Shed produces the Mendocino County Food Guide.
Lake and Mendocino County Granges are experiencing a rebirth and are helping develop a new generation of farmers.
The Mendocino County Food Policy Council consists of a group of representatives and stakeholders from many sectors of the food system. The mission is to collaborate with farmers, food producers, institutions, businesses, and the public at large to create the political and social infrastructure needed to create a sustainable local food system so that we can reduce hunger, increase health, and expand local economic vitality. Learn More.
You can help by making an effort to source as much as your food locally as you can. Begin to look for the Grown Local logos at restaurants and retailers to ensure that your dollars are going to our local food producers and supporting the local economy. Meet your farmers and then shop at these businesses and at Mendo Lake Farmers’ Markets.