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Your Board

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Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Your current Outpost Board of...
Your Board

Envisioning Urban Farms

Board Beet
By Your Board on February 5, 2014

Most monthly meetings of the Outpost Board of Directors include an opening session “Envisioning the Future,” in which a board member or guest speaker presents a topic that, ideally, both informs and inspires directors to think creatively about Outpost's future and role in the community. I think we all look forward to these sessions, because they really do expand our horizons, and they're (almost) as much fun as poring over financial reports. 

In November, the Board got an update from Tim McCollow, of the City of Milwaukee's Environmental Sustainability Department, on the city's HOME GR/OWN project. This project, which was a finalist in the Bloomberg Philanthropies' 2013 Mayors Challenge, seeks to utilize some of the nearly 4,000 parcels of city-owned foreclosed land and buildings for urban food production. Goals include improved nutrition through greater availability of healthy foods in under-served neighborhoods, and economic benefits through targeted employment and vertical integration of food production, processing and marketing. Milwaukee is already well-known for its urban agriculture, and Outpost has been a critical link in the food chain between small local producers and the significant market that the cooperative serves.

The city is streamlining regulations to enable longer-term (7-10 year) leases of city owned land for food production, and is providing incentives to buyers of HOME GR/OWN designated parcels. The city is also providing a range of services, including access to inputs such as water, as well as training and technical assistance for urban farmers. It plans to partner with other organizations to create full time year-round food hubs to assure steady access to health foods.

The City of Milwaukee is already working with a number of current Outpost partners, such as the Fondy Market and Walnut Way, and plans to track program outcomes, starting with a baseline public health assessment and policy audit from UW-M's Zilber School of Public Health. Outpost is working with the Office of the Mayor and Tim McCollow to determine the nature of our partnership and collaboration on the project. Although it's too early to specify what that role will be, it's certain to be significant, given Outpost's history of support for urban, local, and small-scale agriculture, and the project's alignment with our mission to create a healthy, diverse and sustainable community. It also aligns squarely with several cooperative principles, including education and concern for community.

HOME GR/OWN is an example of a truly holistic approach to community- building. It addresses public health, employment, economic and urban redevelopment, and environmental sustainability, and it seeks to create broad and deep partnerships within the community. Imagine a city filled with productive urban farms which employ us, sate our appetites for fresh healthy foods, and form vital pockets of green infrastructure that absorb and utilize stormwater. Imagine also how your investment in, and patronage, of a strong and growing Outpost help to provide the critical mass of resources needed to make HOME GR/OWN a success. There will be more information posted on our site as Outpost's partnership develops. In the meantime, check out the city's project link: http://city.milwaukee.gov/Directory/sustainability/HomeGrown.htm#.UumvWPv-ZaW

Spring 2013 Roundtable in Graze

-- Will Kort, Board President.


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