Saturday, March 12, 2016 marked a day when farming and fishing advocates gathered at Washington Academy in East Machias to discuss ways to strengthen Washington County’s food system. Based on survey feedback from participants, many people came away with inspiration and connections; exactly what Healthy Acadia and the Washington County Community Food Council had hoped would happen.
“The big takeaways of the day for me were small, yet profound.... We are a connected, growing and self-sustaining web in Washington County and mighty dependent on our own courage, spirit and neighbors to succeed in this local food system. The future of America's food supply is dire with water being the center of the conversation, yet New England is in a key position as we are water rich and Maine, even more importantly, is land rich,” commented one participant.
Overall 80% of the attendees felt that the day was either outstanding or very useful to them. “What an uplifting and invigorating day for all of us involved in the Washington County food movement. The food, displays, setting, speakers, networking and Clara Coleman’s workshop on season extension were fantastic, so thank you for doing this for all of us and our special county,” commented Georgie Kendall, a participant from Perry.
Participants shared many wonderful ideas of how to strengthen our food system. Tim Sheehan, from Gulf of Maine, Inc. suggested: “I think that a non-profit should be formed that gets funding to set up a cooler/freezer/ice space and that owns 1 or 2 trucks that all the food people in [Washington county] can use to benefit their business. Maybe sell $100 shares or something. [This] would create a few jobs directly and assist growers and fisheries people with their businesses to create more economic stimulus.”
More than 40% of the participants said that the both the networking and the breakout session discussions were the most useful parts of the day. All in all, Healthy Acadia and its Food Council are very pleased to have been able to provide a venue for bringing together stakeholders and community members to learn, share and network together in order to build a healthier food system and increase access to healthy food for all here in Washington County. The Food Council welcomes anyone interested in the food system. Our next meeting will be Tuesday, April 26, from 1-3 pm at Healthy Acadia’s Machias office, located at 121 Court Street. For more information, contact Regina Grabrovac at 207.255.3741 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regina Grabrovac is Healthy Acadia's Food Programs Manager.
Photo credit: Bill Kitchen