Evansville Area Food Council

1.30.2019 meeting notes

Attended:

Robin Mallery robinmallery@sbcglobal.net

Casey Williamswill1582@purdue.edu

Lacy Wilson wilso766@purdue.edu

Lisa Myer Lisa.myer@ascension.org

Ashley Tenbarge ashley.tenbarge@ascension.org(812) 485-4691 

Tameka Watson Tameka@tri-cap.net(812) 428-2189

Mary Winstead mary.l.winstead@gmail.com(812) 774-5616 

Va Cun va.cun@swiyp.org(812) 205-8463

Julie McCollough jmcculo@usi.edu(812) 461-5213

Len Winiger lwiniger@icloud.com(812) 204-6113 

Chris Borries ceborries@gmail.com

Allie Peach alliepeach@gmail.com(386) 290-7681 

David Brenner dbrenner@sit-co.net(812) 480-0245 

Kristi Schulz tandkschulz@gmail.com(901) 484-7218 

Blythe Battram beautisoul@gmail.com(812) 431-2696 

Andrew Smith smit3744@purdue.edu(812) 890-1667

  1. Andrew Smith of Purdue Extension described his role as the Urban Ag specialist. He explained that he is a technical resource, a link/access to Purdue resources, and that there is a community-building aspect to his position. He mentioned the possibility of an Urban Ag Certificate program in2020.
  2. Mary Winstead of Beautiful Edibles farm shared that there were 50 in attendance at the recent farmer-chef event at Sauced. This was a gathering of local food growers and chefs/caterers, as well as some organization leaders in the food justice genre. The event was a success in that much information was shared that will lead to a vibrant local foods system. Additional gatherings will be held in the future. 
  3. Casey Williams, Community Wellness Coordinator from Purdue Extension and Robin Mallery of Urban Seeds provided an update of the large project underway with USI to build the interactive online platform. There is a data collection piece pending regarding “value/supply chain”; USI professors intended to explain this at today’s meeting but were unable to attend (weather). Robin will explore, with the USI professors, the distribution of a survey monkey email to collect input from growers, farmers market managers, educators, organizations, ahead of the next EAFC meeting.
  4. Casey reminded us of the three pillars of the EAFC, which are connectivity, readiness, and education, and he raised two questions for consideration: In practice, how do we use assets more effectively in our community? Are we effectively gathering and partnering? 
  5. Casey shared that the Board of Directors for the Downtown Evansville farmers’ market voted to not hold the market this year due to a significant decrease in attendance and consumer engagement. Prior to the EAFC meeting, the Access to Healthy Eating workgroup from HCP (Healthy Communities Partnerships) met and decided to bring it up at EAFC. HCP members felt that a huge gap would be left without a downtown market and desired to pursue options. This led to a robust group discussion:
  • Dave Brenner of the Farm Bureau offered clarification that the market master for the past 5 years, Patti Davis, was not paid by the city, but did receive a stipend from sponsors and vendor fees.
  • Lacy Wilson Community Wellness Coordinator from Purdue Extension asked when GAGE (Growth Alliance of Greater Evansville – they were the initiators of the Downtown Market many years ago) stopped their involvement in the market? Dave offered that GAGE took a step back once the board was created to run the market. He clarified that GAGE still helps, with Abby as a board member of the Farm Bureau, but they do not have governance nor do they give financial support.
  • Dave also added that the venue location change from 2nd and Sycamore after the 2017 market season, due to construction on that property, greatly affected the foot traffic and general attendance at the market. 
  • Kristi Schulz of Engelbrecht’s Orchard shared that in addition to venue change a competition for attendance was created by a downtown food truck lunch event on the same day, at the same time. She explained that the market fizzled out starting with some vendors pulling out because of lack of attendance and lower sales, then people stopped coming because there weren’t enough vendors to make it worth their time.
  • Lacy asked how we could make the new market or other option the most valuable for farmers. Kristi said a parking lot would be great, a different day of the week (earlier in the week) would help to provide relief from a Friday versus the Saturday markets on Franklin St and in Newburgh. She continued that variety and flexibility (vendors shouldn’t be penalized for having to take a week off) would also be valuable.
  • Robin said we would request a meeting with Joshua Armstrong of the Downtown Alliance, DMD, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, and possibly the Mayor’s office representative to let them know we are collectively in favor of reinstating the market at a new and improved downtown location.
  • Mary suggested the consideration of a weeknight “festival” type event downtown, with the streets closed, like in Chicago, attracting market goers to also patronize the nearby restaurants and shops. This idea will be shared at the meeting with the Dowtown Alliance et. al.
  • Lacy wondered if we could merge growers into First Fridays. Dave mentioned that there has been a past reluctance from HCAD to share their art/food venue.
  • There was a brief discussion about possible venues: near the new IU med school, church parking lots, and also about 4th street near Goldman’s pawn shop, and along Main St. Robin said the best next step would be to speak with downtown development players.
  • Robin also mentioned that the pop-up market, to serve the WIC clients, at the health department had been successful, with positive response from the farmers as well as employees from the health dept and ECHO. HCP is pursuing a repeat of that pop-up market as well as the possibility of a few others in the area for 2019.
  • IMPORTANT: Kristi told us there were 32 opportunities for people to use voucher benefits from June through October of 2018, but that with downtown market gone, the number would be reduced to 12.
  • Tameka Watson of Tri-Cap suggested using the parks for pop-ups or festivals, like Bayard, Garvin. She shared that there are rotating park/family events throughtou the summer, and that these venues could be a good way of connecting in neighborhoods. Ashley Tenbarge of St Vincent’s added that they could potentially follow Music in the Park.
  • Robin asked Tameka how the family park events were advertised, and Tameka said through Facebook and also flyers in places like laundromats, churches, service providers.
  • Len Winiger of the Master Gardeners asked what the mission of the market was… whether it was downtown attraction and a fun atmosphere/something to do, or whether it was more important to get food to people in a specific walking radius (paraphrasing). Robin said the priority of Urban Seeds, HCP and EAFC was to increase access to locally grown produce (and other nutritious food) for our neighbors while supporting the growers. However, food access with a market/fun/festival overtone is important for success.
  • Mary asked what kind of message we want to send as a city. Are we pushing out farmers for more economic growth dollars? Do we want to push locally grown food to small, hip neighborhoods? No! We are committed to providing increased access to nourishing locally grown/produced foods for our community, especially those who experience food-insecurity.
  • There was mention of Mayor W’s platform, “Healthier Evansville”. This is worthy of mention when we meet with the city. 
  • Depending of the outcome of a meeting with city officials: 
  • We may mobilize to form sub-committees
    • Robin mentioned the possibility of sending out a suggested statement for a letter writing campaign. “…partner in a vibrant market” “how can you help?”
    • Va Cun of the SWIN Yoga Project suggested a Letter to the Editor informing the public of why farmers’ markets are important to our city.
  • For the meeting with the city, we clarified what our ask would be: 
    • Parking
    • High traffic area, combining foot/auto access; businesses and residential
    • Morning or evening during theweek, Tuesday or Wednesday, 8-12 or9-1
    • Pavement
    • Permanent
    • Bathrooms
    • Market master
  • Robin will reach out to schedule a meeting with City officials that will include a farmer(s), organizational leaders, volunteers and a good cross representation of our interests within the community. 
  • Many thanks were expressed for the deep level of engagement and information sharing. Onward! 

Our next meeting will be held in April, date TBD. Updates regarding the farmers market will be shared in the coming days/weeks.

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