Key Organizations and Activities
In March 2011 a group of citizens of Wallowa County, including farmers, ranchers, local business people, and representatives of church, social service, and other non-profit organizations, met for an Oregon Food Bank supported “FEAST” event to discuss concerns and set goals for the local food system. This led to the formation of a Wallowa County Food System Council (WCFSC) committed to “growing an equitable, local food system that promotes economic development, community development, and sustainable agriculture.” Oregon Rural Action (ORA) subsequently commissioned a study to quantify the farm and food economy in Wallowa County, which was released in December 2011.
Northeast Oregon Economic Development District (NEOEDD) then completed a Wallowa County Community Food Assessment in 2012, which included a survey of rural grocery store owners, an assessment of commercial kitchens for shared use, and a narrative providing background information on local and regional food systems development, and profiles of key organizations and businesses. Organizations and programs referenced included Wallowa County Farmers’ Market, Slow Food Wallowas, the Magic Garden and Community Connection. An addendum and progress report on the 2012 assessment was published in 2015. NEOEDD has also offered farm and food business planning classes, farm succession training, workshops on season extension, and supported grant applications by local community partners.
ORA has also published a Farm and Food Directory, with listings for five counties, including Wallowa County.
Community Goals and Recommendations
Priorities from the Wallowa County Food Council strategic plan for 2016 include:
- Continue development and expansion of community and school gardens, support collaboration needed to secure additional funding, incremental capacity building and long term financial stability.
- Strengthen the producer network through increased collaboration (sharing of information, resources, transport, marketing, etc.) Strengthen the supply chain through increased collaboration and networking with transporters, distributors, and marketers.
- Create more opportunities for food literacy/education.
- Encourage collaboration and information sharing among local/regional organizations working on community food system development projects.
Authors of this report believe that additional opportunities may include:
1) Continued development of branded beef programs (natural and grassfed), with support for business planning, market development, and facilitation of access to appropriate slaughter, processing, storage and distribution (likely value chain partnerships rather than new facilities).
2) Further implementation of season extension strategies (row covers, greenhouses, etc.) to expand production and availability of a more diverse range of products for local markets.
3) Exploration of micro-milling and micro-malting to serve specialty baking and brewing.