Registration open for Alaska Food Festival and Conference on March 8-9 in Homer

Registration is open for the 2019 Alaska Food Festival and Conference, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, at Land’s End Resort in Homer.

Hosted by the Alaska Food Policy Council (AFPC), this semi-annual event previously took place in Anchorage in 2014 and 2016 and in Fairbanks in 2017. This year, the Alaska Farmers Market Association is co-hosting the conference.

“This event is an amazing opportunity to meet enthusiastic folks from all parts of the Alaska food system to share ideas and dreams from educators to farmers, distillers to oyster growers, and communities from Tyonek to Port Lions to Kotzebue,” said Lorinda Lhotka, a governing board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council and one of the conference organizers. “There is truly something for everyone and when you leave this conference you will be motivated to take action to improve your local food system.”

Conference topics will cover Alaska’s vast and diverse food system. This year’s keynote speakers are Ben Feldman, policy director and interim executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, and Courtney Long, program coordinator for the Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service and Outreach/Local Foods Program.

Sessions will include presentations on farmers market issues, food security, policy, production, harvesting, business, education, community, tradition, sovereignty, fermenting, subsistence, growing, and more. Chef demonstrations, hands-on activities, vendor booths, and a Friday night social round out the event.

In conjunction with the Alaska Food Festival and Conference, two other events will take place in Homer during this week. There will be a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training on Thursday, March 7, to teach commercial food growers how to meet the requirements of the new Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. On Sunday, March 10, the Alaska Farmers Market Association will host its annual meeting and planning session.

“The first ever Alaska Farmers Market Association conference in 2017 brought together market organizers from around the state,” said Robbi Mixon, a governing board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council and coordinator of the Alaska Farmers Market Association. “We shared information and ideas, gained knowledge on running successful markets, and most importantly built a statewide community of market managers who support each other. We’ve joined forces with the Alaska Food Policy Council for our next edition, further broadening the experience and connections for Alaska’s farmers, markets, eaters, businesses, non‐profits, academics … really anyone with an interest in building a stronger food system.”

To learn more about this event, go to the conference website at http://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/2019-conference. The website has links to draft agendas and information about registration, event sponsorship, being a vendor, being a volunteer, and how to nominate someone for the Alaska Food Heroes Award. There are a limited number of travel scholarships.

We have arranged a 7 percent travel discount with RAVN Alaska, and people should use the code “AKFOODPOLICY” when booking their airfare. We also have a conference rate of 10-15 percent off regular winter rates at Land’s End Resort for people booking their rooms before March 1 and using the code “FARMERS2019.”

For more information about the conference, contact Robbi Mixon at (907) 235-4068, Ext. 23, or robbi@inletkeeper.org.

  • The Alaska Food Policy Council (https://www.akfoodpolicycouncil.org/) is a nonprofit organization whose diverse membership works to engage Alaskans to make positive changes for the state’s food system, and to create a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future for all.
  • The Alaska Farmers Market Association (http://www.alaskafarmersmarkets.org/) is a nonprofit whose mission is to support and promote vibrant and sustainable farmers markets throughout Alaska. AFMA is excited about this opportunity to gather state farmers market organizers and food system leaders together. Market organizers — look for sessions with a focus on farmers markets.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service offers local food leader and community food systems training Sept. 5-6

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is offering local food leader and community food systems training on Sept. 5-6, in conjunction with the Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service. These two classes will be offered by videoconference in Room 107 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

These classes can be taken separately (see details below), or students can take both classes for $85 total.

Local Food Leader Training
Wednesday, Sept. 5, Matanuska Experiment Farm, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
This half-day workshop is for anyone interested in developing our community food systems in Alaska. Participants will leave this program with awareness, understanding and the confidence to work with various organizations, individuals and institutions to develop their local community food systems. The only requirements are that participants are excited about creating strong community food systems in Alaska and have decent internet access. The training is in two parts, one day in person plus four online modules. The cost is $25.

Community Food Systems Training
Wednesday, Sept. 5, Matanuska Experiment Farm, 1:30-5:30 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 6, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
This workshop is geared for those already working in community food systems and seeking additional facilitation or technical skills to support their work. Participation in the local food leader training is preferred but not required. Participants will leave this program with new skills and the confidence to work with various communities to develop place-based food systems and with resources to complete projects related to systemic food system change, including facilitation, strategic planning, community food systems assessment, design thinking and evaluation. Training is in two parts, the two-day workshop in person plus four online modules. The cost is $75.

Register at http://bit.ly/2KmvXxE. For more information or with questions, call Melissa Clampitt at 907-745-3551 or email her at mrclampitt@alaska.edu. You also can get more information about the national program here. Melissa provided more details about the classes, posted below.

Local Food Leader goals and objectives:

Goal: Train local food practitioners in foundational practices for food systems programming including basics of food systems, facilitation, reflection on their personal values as it relates to food systems, skills in coalition development, and evaluation tools. Individuals will leave this program with awareness, understanding, and confidence to work with various different individuals, organizations, and institutions to develop their community food system.

Participants will be able to: • Understand global, local, and community food systems • Organize coalitions that work towards collective community goals and assist in the development of mission, vision, and core values • Manage and facilitate conversations effectively between dynamic groups of people • Utilize an equity lens to food systems development • Understand community processes that include facilitation, project management, partnership, and building successful teams • Provide partners with tools and resources in developing various food systems sectors: production, transformation, distribution, consumption, and resource management (grants, best practices, research, etc.) • Engage and empower community partners to work collectively towards a vibrant, healthy community food system that meets the needs of the participants and community members • Know about tools that exist to create food systems reports • Develop successful teams for success project implementation • Construct plans of work, project scope, and budgets • Understand the use and types of logical models • Create evaluation tools that showcase project outcomes

Community Food Systems goals and objectives:

Goal: Train local food practitioners in the community food systems process including: Community Food Systems Program, coalition development, creating community food systems assessments through mapping and public input sessions, priority project management, design thinking, best practices for community food system projects, and evaluation methods for project and program success. Individuals will leave with new skills and confidence to work with various communities in the development of their place-based community food system, with resources to both engage and complete projects relating to systemic community food system change.  

Participants will be able to: • Understand community food systems and how they relate to larger community and economic development goals • Engage and empower community partners to work collectively toward a community food system • Discern the different sectors of the food system and their impact on community • Utilize Collective Impact and Strategic Doing methods • Develop coalitions working toward collective community goals • Strategically partner with organizations for creative collaborations • Execute community processes including facilitation, project management, partnership, and building successful teams • Develop community food systems assessments through mapping, interviews, and public input sessions • Identify primary and secondary data sources for community food systems assessment and priority projects • Utilize community food system assessments to determine priority projects • Understand evaluation methods for determining collective community projects • Acknowledge the importance of design in community food systems and where it fits within project development • Provide partners with tools and resources for various food systems sectors: production, transformation, distribution, consumption, and resource management (grants, best practices, research, etc.) • Apply concepts and skills learned to develop a place-based Community Food Systems Program in your own University or organization. • Create evaluation methods to understand if projects developed are successful