As part of our coalition-building work, The Treasure Valley Land Trust (TVFC) has committed to hosting four community meetings a year. Each community meeting will focus on a new topic that connects to TVFC’s mission in support of a vibrant local food economy in the Treasure Valley Food Shed of Southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon. The purpose of the community meetings is to provide an opportunity for businesses, and organizations with a mutual interest in the topic 1) to update one another about the work each is doing and 2) to brainstorm together about projects, large and small, wherein those present might benefit from collaboration in the future – or at a minimum, support one another’s efforts. The first community meeting, in April 2012, focused on school gardens. Several positive outcomes resulted from this inaugural meeting of organizations and educators, including an agreement by the Boise Urban Garden School and Boise High’s Downtown Teaching Farm to work together with TVFC to ensure youth and school participation in a new TVFC effort dubbed the Tomato Independence Project, aspects of which are the subject of the third community meeting in August 2013 (see below).
The topic of the second community meeting held on June 7th was raising community awareness about GMOs. The choice of topic was a response to a number of inquiries from the public, fielded by TVFC, about GMO related concerns – IE: the probable introduction of GMO sweet corn this season, procurement of GMO free chicken feed, and labeling of non-certified organic foods to name a few. Again several positive outcomes resulted from the meeting including affirmation by the Boise Coop that certified organic (No GMO) chicken feed will be available in the new Coop Pet Store and a commitment to coordinate an awareness raising campaign amongst gardeners slated to begin next spring – stay tuned to learn more about this exciting project.
As mentioned above, the topic for the third community meeting on August 9th is the Tomato Independent Project (TIP). TVFC is calling the focus of our next few years work the Tomato Independence Project because the ultimate goal is for the Treasure Valley to become independent of Californian, Floridian and Mexican tomatoes (both fresh and processed). The first phase of the project will involve just fresh tomatoes – both the growing and the eating of them. At the meeting on August 9th, we’d like to share TVFC ideas (and brainstorm others) for community activities that have the potential to increase production and consumption of locally grown fresh tomatoes during the months of August and September. One idea on the agenda for discussion is the Tomato Independence Contest. We envision the contest being open to the community (all ages), but would like to see a youth category as well. We also would like to explore ways contest participants might teach others in the community about the health, economic and cultural value of growing our own fresh tomatoes for consumption in August and September, versus buying imports during this period. This community meeting is about fleshing out contest details, as well as brainstorming ideas that will ensure local tomatoes are available in as many Treasure Valley eateries and grocers as possible during the months of August and September beginning in 2013. It is also about exploring ways community organizations and businesses can partner with one another to liberate our taste buds while strengthening our local community and economy.
The community meetings are approximately 2 hours in length with an agenda that we try to adhere to as closely as possible. We are a group that enjoys good food and knows the importance of breaking bread together, so light and local fare will be served.