Field & Fork Network is bringing back our popular Seasonal Suppers this Fall at the Essex Arts Center courtyard on Buffalo’s west side. We are excited to feature an authentic farm-to-table dining experience highlighting the seasonal bounty from several local farms along with Sculpture Pop-ups! an unique urban arts experience all nestled in the heart of Buffalo’s west side.
Guests will enjoy a station-style dining experience featuring local farmers and beverage artisans from all across Western NY. A wide variety of foods will be available and sure to please any palate. Various beverages will be served including local craft beer, hard cider and sweet cider.
Guests will also be able to design their own Steel Pop-Up sculpture. Each guest will be provided with their own canvas in the format of a steel sheet one foot squared. With this sheet guests will draw a line image out and an artist from Essex Arts Center will plasma cut the image out right before your eyes. Guests will get to take home their very own piece of artwork to be proudly displayed in their home!
Live music by local favorite The Observers will be playing throughout the evening!
Proceeds benefit Field & Fork Network and the Essex Arts Center.
Presented by M&T Bank!
Field & Fork Network is thrilled to announce the expansion of their SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) incentive Double Up Food Bucks WNY to more farmers markets across the region this season. Families and individuals who rely on food assistance will have a little bit extra to spend this season on fresh New York State (NYS) grown fruits and vegetables from now until October 31, 2015 at 15 participating farmers markets across 5 WNY counties.
Double Up Food Bucks WNY is a robust SNAP incentive program that provides a $1 for $1 match – up to $20 per market visit per day – for anyone who chooses to spend their SNAP dollars at a participating farmers market. The Double Up Food Bucks incentive dollars can only be used to purchase NYS grown fruits and vegetables. In 2014, Field & Fork Network in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Harvest NY, piloted the Double Up Food Bucks program at 7 local farmers markets with outstanding results. There was a 219% increase in SNAP purchases and a 415% increase in overall food assistance purchases at participating farmers markets. There were over 3000+ SNAP transactions completed and more than 1,000+ new SNAP customers came out to the markets to shop during the 16 week pilot.
Many customers who used Double Up Food Bucks WNY during the 2014 pilot said they benefited from the program. More than 90% of customers surveyed said they were purchasing more fruits and vegetables and 93% of customers said they were eating more fruits and vegetables as a result of the program. Additionally, the Double Up Food Bucks WNY program allows for federal food assistance dollars to be redirected into the local food and farming community. More than 70% of participating farmers said they were making more money and 62% of farmers reported having a new customer base as a result of the program.
“We feel fortunate to bring a program like Double Up Food Bucks to WNY where there is a need for greater access to fresh, affordable foods in many of our urban and rural communities. And the redirection of federal food assistance dollars into our local food and agriculture economy and into the hands of our local farmers is a bonus!” states Lisa Tucker, Co-founder and Executive Director of Field & Fork Network.
The following philanthropic foundations and corporations provide funding for the Double Up Food Bucks WNY SNAP incentive program; the John R. Oshei Foundation, Univera Healthcare, Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, East Hill Foundation, Grigg Lewis Foundation, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, First Niagara Foundation and M&T Bank.
The Double Up Food Bucks WNY is available from July 1, 2015-October 31, 2015. Click here for a complete list of Double Up Food Bucks WNY participating farmers markets for 2015.
The development of a food hub that would serve the greater Western New York (WNY) region and beyond is entering its next stage of development. Field & Fork Network, along with New Venture Advisors and Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest NY, will be working with Eden Valley Growers to develop the proposed enterprise with the ultimate goal of increasing access to locally grown foods on a much larger scale than is currently available. The proposed produce aggregation facility will serve small and mid-size growers who want to sell in the wholesale market.
“It made sense for Eden Valley Growers to pursue the owner/operator opportunity for the WNY Food Hub. Infrastructure, business relationships, & a solid support system all seemed a natural fit! Eden Valley looks forward to helping other growers bring their products to customers that until now have been unreachable. This next stage will be an exciting part to putting all the pieces together.” David Walczak, Sales & Operations Manager, Eden Valley Growers, Inc.
Eden Valley Growers was identified as the owner/operator of the proposed food hub after undergoing a rigorous selection process. Field & Fork Network issued a public Request for Interest (RFI) last August after the completion of a feasibility study, to find an owner/operator of the business. After reviewing responses and interviewing candidates, Eden Valley Growers was selected.
“Once we had concrete data to support the building of a food hub in WNY, we immediately began the process of finding a potential owner/operator. We are thrilled to be working with Eden Valley Growers in developing the food hub. There is no question they bring a tremendous amount of experience and expertise in working with growers,” states Lisa Tucker, Co-founder and Executive Director of Field & Fork Network.
A feasibility study for a WNY food hub was completed in 2014. The results of the study supported the development of a produce aggregation facility that would serve small and mid-size farmers who, on their own, wouldn’t necessarily have the capacity to sell directly to a wholesaler. The study included an extensive survey of growers across a 12 county region that expanded into the Finger Lakes. The goal was to identify enough supply and growing capacity that could potentially meet the increasing demand for locally grown foods.
The study also examined the demand for local foods. A detailed survey of institutional-scale food buyers identified enough demand to support an aggregation facility. The results revealed the opportunity to develop the food hub within an established business that would minimize operating costs and leverage existing assets to give the new business the greatest chance for success.
Kathy Nyquist of New Venture Advisors believes partnering with Eden Valley Growers is an ideal way to start a food hub in Western New York. “We have helped start numerous food hubs across North America, and always look for ways to use what’s already there before investing in new facilities or equipment. Eden Valley Growers has the physical infrastructure, customer relationships and operating expertise that will help the food hub grow quickly and make a positive impact in the WNY food system.”
Field & Fork Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the local food system in Western New York. Field & Fork Network received funding for the next stage of development of the WNY Food Hub through the WNY Power Proceeds Allocation Fund. To learn more about Field & Fork Network visit http://www.fieldandforknetwork.com.
Field & Fork Network is excited to be partnering with Fair Food Network out of Michigan to bring their highly successful Double Up Food Bucks program to Western New York farmers markets this season. The program provides an incentive to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly food stamps) recipients to shop at participating farmers markets. When customers use their SNAP Card benefits at a participating farmers market, they receive an equal amount of DUFB tokens, up to $20 per visit, to use at the market to purchase fresh New York-grown produce from July 1st – Oct. 31st. Customers can spend SNAP Card currency on any SNAP-eligible items at the market. Customers can spend Double Up Food Bucks only on New York-grown fruit and vegetables. SNAP Card recipients with food assistance benefits are automatically eligible for the program. A list of participating locations is available here. Double Up Food Bucks WNY was made possible by our generous funders:
Field & Fork Network has launched a food producer survey and a food buyer survey to help inform their Ready To Grow Food Hub Planning Project. The surveys will be used to determine the feasibility of a food hub to serve the Western New York region. Food hubs are organizations that purchase and aggregate regionally grown farm products and sell and distribute these goods to wholesale and institutional buyers throughout the region. Their goal is to increase revenue for local farmers, and to increase availability of local produce, meat, dairy, and grains for buyers in the region.
The surveys are available here or paper copies are available upon request. All survey responses will be kept safe and confidential. Each survey takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
The food producer survey is open to producers in the following counties: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans, Monroe, Livingston, Wayne, Yates, and Ontario. Input from any and all farmers is important to the production analysis of Field & Fork Network’s food hub feasibility study.
The food buyer survey is open to buyers across the Western New York region. If you purchase local food for a business or are a wholesale distributor, purveyor, grocer, etc. Input from potential customers is important to the market analysis of Field & Fork Network’s food hub feasibility study.
Each survey will be open until February 6, 2014.
**The Producer and Buyer Surveys are now available to fill out online. Please click on the appropriate link below to fill out the safe and confidential survey. Paper surveys are available upon request.**
Field & Fork Network is thrilled to announce they have received funding from Farm Credit Northeast and the Western New Power Proceeds Allocation Fund to commence their Ready to Grow Food Hub Planning Project. This project has been championed by the organization for the last three years as a necessary step in connecting more of our locally grown agriculture products to the regional wholesale market. The planning initiative will entail a thorough market analysis, agriculture production analysis and infrastructure analysis of the 5 county region; Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming to best determine the feasibility of a food hub.
Food Hubs have been popping up all over the United States as more communities are investing in regional food systems. Food Hubs are defined by the USDA as: “A business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.” The Ready to Grow Food Hub Planning Project will determine the appropriate business model that will best meet the needs of our region’s growers and food buyers.
“Of the 7,500 farms that exist in Western New York, more than 88% of those are considered small farms. And many grow and raise outstanding agriculture products. Unfortunately due to market constraints, these farmers have been left out of the wholesale market. We expect this project to address and eventually mitigate those market barriers for both farmers and for institutional buyers who want to source local products,” says Lisa Tucker, co-founder and Executive Director of Field & Fork Network.
Field & Fork Network will be working with New Venture Advisors and the Harvest NY team out of Cornell University to execute the project. New Venture Advisors is a Chicago-based consulting firm with expertise in the assessment, design, launch and development of businesses in the local food and sustainable agriculture arena. Since 2009 New Venture Advisors has worked on more than 13 food hub ventures across the country.
“Food hubs are emerging as critical infrastructure in rebuilding local and regional food systems, and we see their positive impacts on growers and communities across the nation. We are thrilled to partner with Field & Fork Network and the Harvest New York team to develop a food hub for Western New York, which will catalyze the food system and bring the fresh, nutritious and delicious local food found at the farmers market to supermarket shelves, school cafeterias and everyday restaurants,” states Kathy Nyquist, founder and principal of New Venture Advisors.
The Cornell University Harvest NY team will provide additional assistance and resources as part of their goal to expand and enhance regional agriculture extension programs that respond to emerging issues and develop new agricultural economic development opportunities. “The Harvest NY team is excited to join Field and Fork Network and New Venture Advisors as a project collaborator on this important work. We strongly believe it’s a critical step in creating a stronger and more resilient regional food system in Western New York,” says Cheryl Thayer, Harvest NY’s Agricultural Economic Development Specialist.
The Ready to Grow Food Hub Planning Project will have additional oversight from an advisory board populated with key leaders and stakeholders in the local food and agriculture industry. Members of the advisory board are Nathan Rudgers from Farm Credit East; Diane Held from American Farmland Trust & Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Erie County; Paul Bencal from Bencal Farms; Mark Rountree from the Department of Environment & Planning of Erie County; Philip Gotwals from Agricultural & Community Development Services LLC; Julie Blackman from Blackman Homestead Farm; Eben Kennedy from Wegmans Markets; and Carolyn Rosiek from Farm This Way.
Field & Fork Network is a local non-profit food and farming organization dedicated to building a thriving regional food system in Western New York. Founded in 2008, the mission of the organization is to build capacity for a thriving regional food system in WNY. They promote connections between the consumers, food producers, and food buyers in the 8 county region. They strive to create a practical economic engine for local, sustainable agriculture and to provide our region with access to fresh, healthy food.
For more information about Field & Fork Network and the Ready To Grow Food Hub Planning Project please contact Lisa Tucker at 716-465-5704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.