Community Groups Partner to Grow Local Food Economy in Portage County
The Portage County Regional Planning Commission is spearheading an effort to connect local producers with local consumers through the creation of a food hub built around the aggregation, packaging and distribution of agricultural products. The goal of the project is to increase market access for local food producers, service local institutional and commercial buyers and satisfy consumer demand for fresh, locally grown produce.
The strength of the initiative is the impressive coalition of public and private partners, all of whom are interested in creating a vibrant local food economy based on the needs of local producers and consumers.
In addition to the Cooperative Development Center at Kent State University, partners include: Blackdog Acres Farm, Breakneck Acres Farm, Country Elegance, The Ecoponics Group, Green Sprouts Gardens, Hiram College, Kent Farmer’s Market, Ohio State University Extension, Portage County Regional Development Board, Portage Industries, Portage Local Food Project, Portage Park District, Ravenna Farmer’s Market, Shari’s Berries Farm, Sirna & Sons Produce and Viking Vineyards.
One of the initial steps for moving the project forward is a survey process to determine the needs of the local food community. Food producers or farmers, institutional buyers of food products, local restaurants and individual consumers who enjoy fresh local produce can help with the design of the project by going to www.co.portage.oh.us/planningcommission.htm#SDR, clicking on the Special Projects link and completing the appropriate survey.
The Cooperative Development Center at Kent State is an outreach arm of the university’s Ohio Employee Ownership Center that is dedicated to the creation and growth of cooperative enterprises. The Cooperative Development Center is focused on three major areas: the creation of employee-owned cooperatives, linking rural agricultural producers with consumers of those products and the creation of multi-stakeholder cooperatives that serve the economic development needs of local communities. Find out more at www.oeockent.org/coopdev/coopabout.
For more information, contact Chris Cooper from the Cooperative Development Center at Kent State at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-672-0338.