Regional businesses, nonprofits partner to promote ‘Eat Local First’

Several organizations from across the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas have joined forces to launch an Eat Local First Olympic Peninsula campaign.

Eat Local First, is a collective marketing campaign that “engages every part of the supply chain to promote locally grown, raised, harvested and made products with easily recognized branding and consumer education,” is linking partners across Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties

Shoppers and diners around the central Puget Sound region will start to see the Eat Local First brand popping up on restaurant menus, at farm stands and in grocery stores.

Partners in the Olympic Peninsula effort include the Port Townsend Food Co—op, Jefferson County Farmers Markets, Olympic Culinary Loop, North Olympic Development Council, Jeannette Martens a plant based chef and instructor, the Small Farms Program through Washington State University Extension Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties and The Local Food Trust.

“Our organizations have been working together for over a year planning how best to raise awareness about food grown in our region and support farms and producers,” Andrea Stafford, marketing manager for the Port Townsend Food Co—op, said.

“Our partnership is about strengthening our regional food system and building a diverse, vibrant and local food economy.”

The Eat Local First Olympic Peninsula partners are hosting their first Farm to Table Trade meeting from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. The event is a business-to-business format.

A tasting reception follows, from 3-4:30 p.m.

“It will be a day of match-making,” Amanda Millholland, Jefferson County Farmers Markets Director said. “We want to connect buyers to farmers and producers and we want farmers and producers to know who is buying and selling locally food sourced from Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties.”

As of last week, 20 individuals or groups have signed up to attend the event representing retail, restaurants, community-based and institutions from all three counties in addition to farmers and producers.

Pre-registration is required. Tickets are $30 and vendor tables are $75 (limited to 15 spots).

Registration closes Friday, Nov. 8.

About Eat Local First

One goal of the Eat Local First campaign is to help farmers sell more products to local buyers at restaurants, grocers and institutions, getting more local products into the places our community eats shops and access food. According to WSU Extension programs for this region, most local farmers report that they want to expand their direct marketing efforts, but cannot spend much money on marketing and advertising, and thus rely primarily on word-of-mouth. The report recommended regional collective marketing and educational workshops to provide support for local farmers.

Local restaurants, retailers and other food-related businesses can participate in the campaign by contacting one of the partner organizations and signing the campaign pledge, which asks businesses to:

• Commit to sourcing ingredients or products from local producers every month

• Make it a goal to work toward shifting 10 percent of their annual food budget to local sources

• Actively promote local producers to their customers so that customers know when they are buying local

Local farms, fishermen and food producers can participate in the campaign by utilizing campaign branding and marketing materials on their locally grown, raised, caught or made products.

The campaign was started by Sustainable Connections in 2011 and currently includes more than 130 businesses in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

For more about this program, see supportlocalfood.org/eat-local-first-olympic-peninsula.

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