Sara Zoë Patterson is the founder and board chair of Seacoast Eat Local. Just like Bat Girl, she has a day job as a librarian, at New Franklin School in Portsmouth, NH. Involved in social justice advocacy in varying forms for the last 18 years, her passions for good food and a better future for our planet and its humans come together in her volunteer work with Seacoast Eat Local. She has been awarded the Andrew L. Felker Memorial Award for leadership in promoting the growth and prosperity of New Hampshire agriculture and named one of the Union Leader’s “40 under 40” young leaders of New Hampshire. Sara-Zoe gave her PEP Talk as part of the 2013 RootSkills Training & Networking Event.
Seacoast Eat Local
Ready to Replicate?
Interested in exploring how to take on some of the projects mentioned by Sara-Zoe and launch a similar initiative in your community? In addition to Seacoast Eat Local’s group profile and website, here are some resources that will get you started:
Create an Eat Local Guide for Your Community
Start by asking questions! Find a farmer in your area or visit a local area farmers’ market. Information on local farms, Pick-Your-Own opportunites, restaurants, etc is often not that hard to find, but is rarely collected in one central, easily accessible location. Make sure to check with your Natural Resources Conservation District, your state’s Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) and your friends! Also realize that you don’t have to start with a super-sophisticated publication. As Sara-Zoe notes, a first edition can be a basic Word document. Make sure to share your work early and ask for lots of feedback from a variety of users as you develop the Guide.
Start a (Winter) Farmers’ Market in Your Community
Each New England state has a Farmers’ Market Association of Federation with an overview of specific resources and regulations around Farmers’ Markets. Click your state to visit specific websites: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT. In addition, Vermont’s Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) has a comprehensive overview of resources for starting a Farmers’ Market (note that some of these resources may be VT specific!).
Start a Gleaning Project in Your Community
Gleaning is the act of collecting surplus produce after the harvest. In modern times, it has come to mean the capture of food at many points in the food chain before it goes to waste. There are several successful gleaning operations in New England and both Salvation Farms and Boston Area Gleaners provide excellent (technical) assistance to newly establishing gleaning projects who bring volunteers out to farms to collect surplus produce. An example of a successful Farmers’ Market gleaning project (where volunteer collect surplus produce at the end of a Farmers’ Market) comes from Rutland where the Rutland Area Farm & Food Link is organizing Glean Teams.
NEGEF’s Seed & Grow grant programs are available to help launch and sustain your Eat Local project. Funds can be used for materials like boxes, clipboards, banners, tables, tents, etc. to start a Farmers’ Market or Gleaning effort, printing costs for a Eat Local guide, a coordinator’s time to pull together information and make connections, etc.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need some feedback on your project (ideas). We’re here to help and can connect you with other groups and resources!