A new study from the Austin Texas-based Capital Area Council of Governments, "Selling Food is Good Business in the Capital Area - But What About Local Food Production?" asks “... how much of the dollars being spent on food are staying in the local economy, as opposed to going to food producers elsewhere?”
The answer is shockingly low. In 2015, around $5.4B (yes, the big "B" as in "billion") in retail food sales occurred. But our area produced $1.3B, meaning around $4.1B of food sales left the local economy. Went somewhere else. Benefited some other economy, or some corporation somewhere, some place other than here.
We think we can do something about that - by investing in good, clean, local sustainable food entrepreneurs.
Seasonal, local food that is grown and produced by people you know is the tastiest, most nutritious and freshest food available. Here in Central Texas, we have access to an abundant variety of fresh food from local farmers, ranchers and other producers. In fact, farmers' markets, farm stands and opportunities to subscribe to community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are available in nearly every community. Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas makes it easier than ever to find local producers and products, while supporting local economies, our environment and the cultures represented by food produced in our area.
"The city where cowboys and hippies have long come together over breakfast tacos is breeding a new kind of food pioneer," writes Beth Goulart Monson in a long-form, beautifully photo'd essay hitting all the high points of the Austin sustainable food movement: urban farming, farm-to-table, farm-to-school, food system design, hunger, climate change, and food sovereignty. And she even name checks AFI! Wow!
Click to set custom HTML
AFI is proud to have joined the new Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) today, as a Founding Member.
The Texas Center for Local Food is a new non-profit headquartered in Elgin. TCLF provides technical assistance for rural & agricultural economic vitality by creating and retaining quality jobs in processing, production, distribution and marketing of Texas sustainably grown crops.
TCLF is now accepting new memberships - starting as low as $20 - from individuals, organizations, and companies dedicated to strengthening our regional food system. We really encourage you to check out this new organization, support their goals (which align very nicely with ours), and visit their website, at Texas Center for Local Food.
One of the many joys of doing AFI is meeting cool people along the way. Alejandra Rodriguez, founder of La Flaca Urban Gardens, might be one of the coolest.
Alejandra custom grows unique ingredients for chefs, caterers, and food artisans. She does that on land reclaimed from being boring old regular lawn!
Recently she emailed an update including a link to this video, and we asked if we could repost some of it here. She writes:
"In July we shared the news of starting a new farm in southwest Austin. It's been a challenging summer with highlights such as getting a Bobcat stuck in a ditch on a rainy day and shoveling 120 cubic yards of soil amendments under a relentless sun to shape our beds. The idea of farming is quite romantic, the reality never is. Seeing our goal of a big harvest this fall come into fruition makes the blood, sweat, and tears 100% worth it. To the family and friends that have our backs, the chefs that have stood by us, and supporters from all walks of life: Thank. You. Starting a farm requires a strong community, we're deeply grateful for your support throughout this crazy adventure."
Alejandra - you rock! All the best from your friends at AFI!
AFI is launching a Facebook page to help connect with Central Texas food based businesses, conscious capital investors, and any other organization or person trying to improve our food system. Please visit us!
Petey Peterson of Austin start-up Local Charcoal diverts organic waste from the landfill to create premium charcoal products. He partners with sawmills, carpenters and landscapers, for supply, cooks it in home-made "retorts" (barrel-like devices for creating charcoal), then sells it as either lump charcoal for grilling and biochar for agricultural uses.
He needs a bigger retort, and is in the midst of a Indiegogo campaign to fund it. We think Petey is cool, and love his products. You can buy the lump charcoal at Thom's Market, in.gredients, and a variety of other places.
On Saturday, April 30th a massive thunderstorm devastated the Dewberry Hills sustainable pastured poultry farm. 75 mile an hour winds and torrential rain destroyed the movable chicken tents and flooded the pastures. Lighting strikes prevented farmers Jane & Terry from going out into the field during the storm, and many of their birds drowned.
This is the fourth weather catastrophe to strike Dewberry in less than a year, and they see their resources as exhausted.
They've set up a Go Fund Me campaign, at
to raise money to replace mobile tents with larger and heavier metal mobile coops, to get rain water collection gutters up on all their new buildings to prevent pastures from flooding, to replace the washed away driveway, and to continue pay bills while they wait for the next batch of chickens to grow.
Please help by giving what you can and by spreading the word.
The AFI Team
Here's an oldie but a goodie, from way back in October 2014, from the Bluebonnet Electric Coop website by Kathy Warbelow...
"On a rural road in Manor, Sean Henry and Wesley Kener grow frilly lettuces, fragrant basils and other fancy greens in a 40,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse. Inside, workers harvest plants from trays set in shallow water and pack them in plastic clamshells for wholesale customers that include Whole Foods Market, H-E-B and Central Market." Read the full article here.
Our friends over at Compost Pedallers, who have collected - BY BICYCLE - and composted more than 500,000 pounds of food waste from homes and businesses since 2012, have launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money "to move 1M pounds of waste by bike in 2016." Help them achieve this impressive goal to reduce food waste in Austin! Click here for more information about the fundraising campaign.
Calling all developers, designers, and food lovers! Startup Weekend Food is happening November 13-15.
Have you ever had an idea that would change the way we eat? An idea that would impact our global food system? Here's your opportunity to transform your thoughts into action. Find folks with the right skills, passion and dedication to help make your startup idea a reality. Test your idea with real potential customers, receive coaching from experienced entrepreneurs and industry professionals, and win prizes that will help you take your startup idea to the next level!
Are you a school garden teacher, parent, or supporter? Do you want to connect with a larger community of fellow school garden enthusiasts? On Thursday, October 8 the New Farm Institute at Green Gate Farms is hosting a Garden Teachers' Forum where educators, parents, and supporters can share ideas for curriculum and tips for organizing successful school garden programs. Green Gate farmers will be on hand to guide the conversation and answer any questions about growing tips, irrigation, plant choices, and other resources. Click here for more information.
Edible Austin's annual Chef Auction is coming up! The event gives you the chance to bid on a fabulous custom dinner prepared by one of (or a team of) Austin's hottest chefs, and benefits two non-profits doing great work in the sustainable food scene in Austin - Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots. Click here for more information.
KUT recently aired an interesting segment about the state of composting in Austin, at both the private and public levels. The federal government has set a goal of a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030, and Austin appears poised to meet the challenge (in the last 2 1/2 years, the City's pilot composting pickup program has picked up the equivalent of 1,500 killer whales - about 9,000 tons - in rotting food!). The local company Compost Pedallers - a compost pickup and delivery team, done all with bicycles - has collected roughly 400,000 pounds of compost since 2012. With the City of Austin soon rolling out a mandatory program, requiring all businesses with a food permit to have a food waste plan - whether composting or donating - in place by October 2018, this is a big issue for Austin's food scene. Click here to read or listen to KUT's story.
Great news for culinary entrepreneurs in Austin! The non-profit Austin Food & Wine Alliance will award $40,000 "to selected organizations/individuals for the purpose of culinary innovation that contributes to the Austin and/or Central Texas community." Grant applications will be reviewed and considered by the AFWA 2015 Grant Selection Committee, a panel composed of community members and culinary professionals. The application deadline is Friday, Oct. 2. Click here for more details.
It's no secret that the unique style and swagger of Austin's restaurant scene has been gaining the attention of foodies on the national level. And now, the venerable Travel + Leisure has has declared ATX as "America's Next Great Food Town." Click here to read more.
A "unicorn" is venture capital slang for a company with a valuation of at least $1B. Conventional wisdom says that one "unicorn" can "make" a fund, or a VC's reputation. One can argue that the majority of the VC industry is built around searching for, and swinging for the fences in hope of, that unicorn.
But, Christopher Calnan writes in the Austin Business Journal, they're tough to find, and for the moment at least, don't bother looking in Central Texas.
News from AFI; Links to stories on business-for-good, private-company investing, fundraising, & sustainable food.