Several action committees were formed during the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce's second Local Food Roundtable held at West Virginia Northern Community College on Thursday. Those present took the rough ideas explored at the initial meeting on March 29 and honed goals in the areas of educating, growing, and marketing local food production.
In the area of education, it was decided a community garden will be established where children and any interested persons can have a small plot of their own to plant wanted produce under the guidance of experienced volunteers. Possible areas to set up the garden were noted and anyone interested in learning more or volunteering for the community garden is invited to attend a follow up meeting at the chamber office on April 19 at 6:30 p.m.
In the area of growing, an online forum will be created to help producers communicate with other local growers in the area and exchange information relating to preparing, growing, and maintaining crops specifically in the Wetzel County area. It was discussed that with the internet there is an overload of information with regard to gardening. As such, creating a local forum will help get more specific questions answered about growing in our area, from those who are already doing it successfully season after season. It was also hoped that hard copies of the topics being discussed on the forum will be made available at the public libraries in the county so that others may read, answer, and submit their own queries.
Lastly, regarding marketing local food production, the group decided multiple locations and dates for farmers markets to be set up in the area are desired. To this effort, volunteers have signed on to contact various producers to find out when and where they would like to set up such markets.
For more information on these efforts contact the chamber office at 304-455-3825. Detailed meeting notes and committee focuses will soon be made available online at www.growlocalgolocal.org.
According to a groundbreaking study recently released by Downstream Strategies, LLC, West Virginia University, and the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, if West Virginia farmers grew enough fruits and vegetables to meet the in-season fresh produce needs of all state residents, such a shift would also generate 1,723 new jobs and contribute an additional $35.7 million in local sales.
The study, "West Virginia Food System Assessment: Seasonal Production and its Impacts" also finds that growing the produce would require less than 10 percent of West Virginia's undeveloped prime farmland.
This is the first study in a multi-part series funded through the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition by the blue moon fund. The next phase of the study will address, among other things, local distribution of fruits, vegetables, and meats to West Virginia consumers.
To read the complete report visit www.downstreamstrategies.com/documents/reports_publication/ds_food_system_report_final.pdf