Food Systems Sub-Commitee

This post serves as the home base for Food Systems Sub-Committee meetings, conversations, and notes. It has been turned into a wiki so any member with a log-in to the site can edit and organize this post.
Current Sub-Committee Members: @mgm, @SandySunshine, @Vern
Google Folder Link: Food Systems - Google Drive

Upcoming Meetings:
This sub-committee will be waiting to hear back from the RSDP on their submitted idea brief before having a next meeting. Idea briefs are due Feb 17th and RSDP will reach out to project leaders in March.

To Do:

Links & Resources:
The final copy of the The Morris / Stevens Community Local Food Security Project Idea Brief. This project is being submitted to the RSDP for funding consideration.

Super cool to hear that @Vern got to share some of this at the Morris Model Resiliency Planning event! I also heard that @SandySunshine is thinking about how to help locals begin producing their own food!

1 Like

Thanks so much for finding this post and tagging me!

I wanted to take time to add to what Syd said, how I’m interested in local people making local food, because it just makes sense to be close to the things we eat, for many reasons (better nutrition/flavor, ease of access, reduced carbon footprint, sense of pride, the list goes on!)

My name is Sandy Fernow, and my interest in local food started amping up more in high-school, and I was fortunate to have my parents support my passion by helping me attend a Growing Power Seminar put on by Will Allen at the Women’s Environmental Institute, located at Amador Hill Farm and Orchard in North Branch, MN (where I grew up before moving to Morris for college). That was back in 2013, hard to believe it’s 10 years ago already!

At that weekend seminar we upcycled big feed bags to house a substrate to grow mushrooms, we set up hoop houses using upcycled materials, we toured their greenhouses where compost was helping add some heat to the grow tunnels to extend the growing season, we scattered seeds and started trays of microgreens in a coconut coir growing medium mix, and some members helped dig out a trench for building an aquaponics set up with fish tanks under ground level. So much took place in one weekend, and that experience fostered a deeper connection with the acts of growing and consuming local goods.

Here is a link to the Wiki article on Growing Power; sadly the organization dissolved due to financial strain in 2017:

I had to look and see an update on the WEI aquaponics, here is a link to some info on Deep Winter Farming, which is super interesting!

This past year I started many (over 100) heirloom tomato plants in March and April, plus some peppers and other veggies, and sold some to neighbors and friends, along with planting many in my backyard garden in town in Morris. I’m hoping to do another good growing season start up next year. I also have dabbled in growing microgreens (which are a nutrient dense, hyperlocal option for helping our community meet nutritional needs and create beautiful plates of food to fill our bellies with joy in a multitude of ways!) I had sold a few rounds of greens to Stone’s Throw Café and to a few friends, but the demand of my outdoor garden began amping up and the restaurant closed down, so my interest fizzled a bit as well. I still have all the lights, trays, and several bags of seeds, but need more growing medium to begin my winter greenery therapy and reestablish my bond with growing inside.

I like growing my own food for my family, because it reduces the worry I have when I read headlines like, “harvest in California/Florida/South America impacted by unrelenting drought conditions” or “check out this list of foods that will likely increase in price due to climate change”; plus knowing how the food we intake is grown, is priceless to me!

I think reducing reliance on systems beyond Morris is key to building a resilient community in our island on the prairie. We are vulnerable to weather, shipping, vehicle maintenance needs, fluctuations in pricing in a multitude of ways with current events, the list goes on.

So, bringing the source to home and figuring out how to feed our people with what we can do here in town feels like a big way to help prepare for disaster and benefit our planet! Beyond this, things like preserving foods via dehydrating and canning to reduce reliance on fridge/freezer (and power outages) and having classes on how to do these things and more availability/awareness of a network of these things made by local producers could be good! Maybe even figuring out a space for an indoor market series,(like how there are craft fairs, but to do it for food) or even a directory for an online farmers market type thing could be good for the community to better connect with interested people. If there’s something like this already, let me know!

I will wrap these thoughts up for now, but I am thrilled to have this outlet and connection to our community this way, and I am looking forward to the ideas we can share and things we can do as we continue on this journey of sustainability!

(As president of the Morris Area Women of Today, I always sign off my emails a certain way, and it seems fitting here)

Thanks for reading if you made it this far,
~Sandy Fernow
Together, We Grow Better

Sandy, this is all GREAT stuff to read. I am excited for your passion and participation in the WCMNCN.

I KNOW that Vern would love to have further conversation with you about all things food reliance. He doesn’t often check this site, but if you email him he always promises to reply. vern.simula@gmail.com

1 Like

I did copy and paste the comment I had made here and added a few more ideas also and sent it to the email you provided, thanks so much for helping establish this connection!

I’m seriously so very thankful we were seated at the same table for the Sustainability Conference, Syd; You’ve been doing excellent work in the community and I’m so happy to finally feel more a part of it in this capacity!

1 Like

I wanted to add to this thread, that over the past week I’ve been compiling information into a Google document on thoughts and ideas of how to possibly move forward in terms of a local food economy.

Some of this document is my own experience in climate change impact or my personal food growth, and I have a lot of ideas on how to transition our community to connect and bond over the possible goals we could set to progress and be a model community.

I’m not sure the style of “wiki” info you all have going on here on this site, but wanted to at least somehow share what I’ve been working on. So far I have shared the doc with Vern, who helped in establishing the initial framework to foster my expansion on ideas (which I know may be repetitive at times as I continue to circle back on thoughts), and I shared with Griffin yesterday also; the doc is open to public view and suggestions.

Thank you all for caring and welcoming me into this group!
Sandy Fernow
Together, We Grow Better

1 Like

I am working on compiling a directory for local foods. The directory is in the Food Systems Google Drive folder.

Please help me build this to be a great document of our local food and product resilience!

I’m hoping this helps in encouraging our local foods effort, by being able to point and say “here is where you can find x,y,z!”

I still need to add farmer’s market information, butchers, Pomme de Terre local suppliers, and more.

Access the current file here:

1 Like