Key Organizations and Activities
Klamath & Lake Community Action Services partnered with Oregon Food Bank to complete a community food assessment in 2011 titled, “ Building Healthy Communities in the High Desert.”
Klamath Sustainable Communities offers a 2011 Local Food Guide, guidance on buying meat direct from farmers/ranchers, and some information on gardening and food preservation. The Klamath-Lake Food Explorer website also has a listing of local farmers that sell direct, farmers’ markets, community gardens, food pantries and other resources.
As of 2014, six Klamath County schools have introduced school gardens (from zero in 2007).
Klamath County has seen increases in the number of farmers markets and in total sales direct to consumers. However, the number of farms selling food direct to consumers fell 30% from 2002 to 2012. Farmers exploring local markets may have been discouraged by average annual sales per farm just over $3,200 in 2012. The reality is that Klamath County citizens currently spend only 36% of the Oregon average on farm-direct purchasing.
Production trends suggest the availability and diversity of local foods are increasing. While Klamath County has seen decreases in the number of farmers/ranchers reporting sales of livestock products of all types from 2002 to 2012, there have been significant increases in the number of farmers raising vegetable crops and in the number of crops raised. The number of certified organic farms has also more than doubled (from 15 to 32). More local food options may well translate to more local food spending by consumers.
Community Goals and Recommendations
According to Feeding America, the average cost of a meal in Klamath County increased over 18% from 2009 to 2013 (to $3.04), and is now nearly 10% higher than the Oregon average.
Goals from the 2011 community food assessment include:
- Improve consumer awareness with a Buy Local campaign and annual Local Food Guide.
- Achieve 100% SNAP acceptance in rural grocery stores.
- Establish city and county codes to allow ownership of bees and small farm animals.
- Develop a plan for transitioning to healthier school menus.
- Support food micro-entrepreneurs with access to affordable community kitchens.
- Determine the feasibility of a dehydrating facility for wild mushrooms.
- Determine the feasibility of establishing a USDA certified meat processing facility.
Given the low level of consumer spending on local foods, the authors of this report support goals for increasing citizen awareness, education and engagement in food systems efforts.
Given the growing, but still limited, number of farms reporting sales of fruit and vegetables in Klamath County, the authors of this report also suggest a focus on support for continued agricultural diversification, and incorporation of season extension strategies and technologies (such as row covers and greenhouses) to increase the availability of local produce.
Small state-licensed poultry processing may be more practical than USDA red meat processing.