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  • Larissa Spafford, FNTP

Central Oregon Local Food Resources

Farmer's Market Vegetables

Early this spring I ordered seeds online for my vegetable garden. There was a several week waiting period and many seeds were already sold out. The company said they were experiencing an unprecedented demand for seeds. Shortly after, the company closed online ordering for several weeks to catch up. The company my family orders local foods from mentioned that they had been very busy too.

It seems the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated many people to grow an edible garden and seek out local food sources. I hope this isn’t just a passing trend. More people growing gardens and supporting local agriculture is a step in the direction of being more responsible and sustainable humans.

Recently, most weeks, my family has been ordering produce and some meat from Agricultural Connections. I’ve been enjoying it for so many reasons!

1) They deliver!

2) During the stay at home order most days blurred together. Delivery day was a great marker of what day it was and something to look forward to.

3) I’ve been ordering the largest box for basically just my husband and I, (since our 17 year old son makes his own money, has a car and uber eats is his best friend when I make something he’d rather not eat) which makes us eat A LOT of veggies. This is great for supporting our immune systems to stay healthy.

4) It’s been fun to try new recipes and eat things I normally don't, like fiddle head ferns, fava beans, and fennel.

Agricultural Connections is just one of the many sources of local food in Central Oregon. There are other local food delivery services, CSAs, farmers markets, etc. To see most of them, here’s the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance Guide.

There's also a digital version of their printed copy that just came out this month.

In our country, food deserts and poverty prevent many from access to enough of any kind of food. Having access to locally grown produce, meats and other foods and being able to afford those foods is a privilege I don’t take for granted and am very grateful for.

There were times early on that my family would get very low on food before the next paycheck arrived. I always grocery shopped with a running total in my head and put unnecessary splurges, like treats of dark chocolate, back if needed. We also received WIC checks. It’s been many years since we’ve received WIC and I’m so happy to learn that things have changed (we still need much more change though!). Back then, fresh carrots were the only vegetable I could purchase with WIC and only from a grocery store. Now, WIC, SNAP and FDNP checks are accepted at many farmer’s markets.

There are several organizations in Central Oregon working to promote and provide healthy locally produced food to our community, including those who experience food insecurity. Whether you’re in need of assistance or you’re able to help by donating or volunteering, here are a few of the amazing organizations and programs in our Central Oregon community...

Seed to Table in Sisters, is a 1.5 acre non-profit farm educating 1,300 students a year and feeding 200 families a week with nutritious produce.

Through their COVID-19 Food for All Program they’re supporting families directly affected by COVID-19 by offering discounted produce at the Sister’s Farmers Market this summer.

Their Fresh Food Farmacy Program provides food insecure people with 22 weeks of fresh produce either subsidized or at no cost, monthly classes to learn skills to create a healthy lifestyle, weekly educational resources and personal check-in support.

The High Desert Food and Farm Alliance works to improve access to and provide education about fresh healthy and regional grown, raised and crafted foods.

They provide an Agricultural Support Program to improve the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers by providing free/low-cost workshops, infrastructure grants, connection to consumers, businesses and institutions, and free marketing materials.

Their VeggieRX Program is a fresh food prescription program at the Bend and Redmond farmers’s markets with a mobile program in Prineville. Participants receive 8 weeks of fresh food vouchers, nutrition education materials, healthy recipes and one on one support from a dietician or nutritionist.

Their Grow and Give Program collects fresh food from local farmers, gardeners and community members and delivers it to NeighborImpact food bank for distribution through their network.

NeighborImpact is a private not for profit organization serving

economically disadvantaged residents of Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Their food bank collects and distributes food to over 25,000 people every month. Through their Food Recovery Program, they recover and distribute safe, edible produce, dairy, bread and meat from grocery stores. Their program distributes more fresh food throughout Central Oregon than any other agency. Their efforts divert 50 tons of edible food from landfills every month!

Central Oregon Locavore located in Bend, is a non profit supporting local food and farms through educational programs and a year round indoor farmers market.

They accept SNAP EBT cards and Oregon Direct Farm Vouchers. Their Food School Classes are free to SNAP and WIC recipients.

If you'd like help using whole food nutrition to change your diet and lifestyle, I'd love to help. You can choose which service fits your needs best and schedule here.

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