In March, the Connecticut Food System Alliance awarded Grow Windham with a mini-grant to launch a “Know Your Farmer Fair” in Windham, CT. This was the launch event for the “Windham Grown Network,” a group of local farmers and producers looking to expand market opportunities by connecting with merchants, restaurants, processors, individual consumers, and institutional food service providers. The event featured 16 local producers, with over 70 attendees.
These funds made possible the event itself, which was a celebration of local food and community. Follow-up surveys with participants identified ways to promote and sustain the relationships that were cultivated at the event, resulting in the development of a “Local Buying Guide,” targeted at restaurants and merchants, introducing them to local producers, and providing guidelines and best practices for successful local sourcing. In addition, producers requested support with marketing materials, which will be created in conjunction with their participation in the guide. A grant from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund will support a local graphic artist to create templates for promotional materials to be used both as stand-alone promotional materials for local producers, as well as to promote their products when they are featured in local establishments.
This proposal has helped both to celebrate and promote local producers, as well as to integrate them with local markets. This enables the benefits of local production to be invested within the community.
Grow Windham will continue this event next year, and hope to coordinate with other regions in the state to host similar events. They also will continue to expand and sustain the network of producers at the event, in order to continue to support projects that promote their establishments.
Thank you to Sally Milius for sharing this update – we look forward to hearing more about Grow Windham!