Wendy & Shawn Eat Local for 30 Days, Part 1

Posted on Posted in Guest Bites

Dear readers: here’s the first in our new series of guest blog posts–look for future guest posts under ‘Guest Bites’. Bon appetit!

grilleddinner

Just a few summer evenings ago, over a deliciously grilled dinner served al fresco, my husband Shawn proposed an intriguing idea. He always has great ideas. He’s a “Big Idea” Guy. “What do you think about only purchasing and consuming foods from Farmers’ Markets for 30 days?” He asks, looking at me with big eyes and a smile.

My mind instantly filled with idyllic thoughts. Yes! This will help us be healthier! We will be helping farmers and our community! What fun to shop at Farmers’ Markets! The foods we buy will be fresher, more responsible, and sustainable! I can finally get Shawn to do the shopping with me!

As much as I fought to keep the questions at bay though, I am a “Details” Gal. I am practical, sometimes to a fault (it’s why he married me, I’m sure) and questions quickly begin to flood out my picturesque thoughts.

  • Can we really afford this?
  • What about dairy? I can’t live without dairy and aren’t their rules about dairy at markets?
  • Can I really get what I need at Farmers’ Markets?
  • We can’t eat jewelry and soaps; is there really enough varieties of food?
  • Will we have to drastically change the way we eat to do this?
  • Will he have time for all the planning necessary to do this?
  • Who has time to prepare everything?
  • Will we have a set of rules?
making a plan
We Are Up to The Challenge

I looked over at Shawn who was looking at me with the “I know exactly what you’re thinking” look and he told me we would have to establish guidelines, of course. It’s like he read my mind and then I think the two of us working together might really be able to pull this off. Can a two adult household on a budget successfully shop and eat only from Vancouver/Portland area Farmers’ Markets for 30 days?

I began to relax a little and started to process what this 30 day challenge means and what we might learn about our local communities, farms and ourselves in the next 30 days.

Now, on to making up the rules, my favorite part. I told you I was a “Details” Gal.

We’ll keep you posted…

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What We Found at the Salmon Creek Farmers Market

Posted on Posted in Community
Thursdays in Salmon Creek

aberaspberriesWe love Thursdays. At Feed Us Media, it is our day to assess our week, wrap up loose ends, and start planning for the weekend. Because, who wants to work on Fridays?! Thursdays we try to get out of the office, shake the routine, see the light of day, interact with humans and get better perspective on our business, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, we end up burning the midnight oil to finish up projects. This Thursday, however, turned out to be a team field trip, which was much more fun than ticking away on our laptops.

We decided to attend the Salmon Creek Farmers Market. Our good friend, Ann Foster, is the founder and organizer. She has put a lot of work into making the market successful. There are over 25 vendors who sell produce, berries, plants, handmade crafts, cheese, baked goods, and yard and garden art. The market is situated in a field just off I-5 in Salmon Creek, and is very accessible to traffic.

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Salmon Creek Farmers' Markets

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Get Your Greens Here

coyoteveggiesOne vendor had an amazing display of produce. Coyote Ridge Ranch is located in Ridgefield, Washington, and in addition to market offerings, sells their produce direct to restaurants. Their table included beets, young zucchini, rhubarb, herbs, vegetable plants, and an array of more unique offerings. Celeste bought the most amazing kohlrabi that was larger than her head! She will be sharing recipes on our blog, so be sure to check back.

A new bakery in Felida, Fred’s House of the Rising Buns, offered whole grain breads, sweets, challah, and some fantastic focaccia. It was almost beyond words. You could smell the garlic as you walked up to the stand. Fred also offers biscuits, scones, pies and cakes at his Felida location. Check out his facebook page here.

Kid-Friendly

One of the most exciting parts of the market is the attention to needs of children. The market hosts a free kids craft table, and has face painting available. The vendors are very kid-friendly. One vendor, Jacki’s Heirloom Garden, took extra time and effort to introduce my children to new herbs they had never seen. She plucked leaves off plants and gave tastes to my kids. That means a lot to me, and taught my children something new about the nature that surrounds us all.

kellygoatcheeseThe market also hosts a program for kids called Produce Pals. Children participate in a scavenger hunt, and their prize at the end is a $2 token to purchase produce at the market. Two of my kids chose berries from Munoz Berry Farm, and my child with a more sophisticated palate chose goat cheese from Skamokawa Farmstead Creamery. Delicious choices, all around!

Ann has worked hard to get a good array of vendors, and there is always room for more Contact the market to get involved. This is an excellent vending opportunity for people who are just jumping into markets. Tell her we sent you!

 

 

Happy eating!

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What’s a Website Got To Do With Me?

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garden delights website on different screens

Summer is here, and there are so many opportunities to sell your product. The real question is, how do you find the right place with the right customers? Whether you are looking at farmers markets, craft fairs, or trying to jump into commercial production, the task of finding a consumer outlet can be daunting. And, even if you find the right customer, how can you be sure you have the right marketing that will sell the product for you?

Small producers and entrepreneurs often rely on word of mouth to sell their products. When I am researching small businesses, I notice that many do not have websites. This is sometimes not a problem: for instance, if a restaurant opens up in a busy part of town, they do not necessarily need a large web presence to garner business. Word of mouth, coupled with passerby curiosity, will sometimes create enough traffic to support a business. However, if a business is situated in a less travelled part of town or in a rural area, a good web presence is absolutely crucial to expand business to the right customer base. Word of mouth will simply not be enough.

socialmediatree

I also see some companies rely on a single social media outlet. This approach can definitely have its perks: it is much easier to update on one forum, and some sites can act as a proxy for a website. One business we frequent uses Facebook and Twitter in lieu of a business page. This has its benefits, but they might be missing out on customers who do not use Facebook or Twitter. Believe me, there are a lot of people out there who have no social media presence. In this case, there are drawbacks to ignoring the need for a website – the business is losing potential customers.

Think about this: if you own a company, how is your customer going to search for your business? Chances are, they will put your name into Google or Bing or a similar search engine. If you do not have a website, a search engine will have difficulty connecting your customers to you. (Claiming your Google+ account will do wonders in this situation, but that is another story for another blog post.) The last thing you want is for customers to find your business via Yelp! or another review site. The point of all this is, you want your customers to find YOU, not someone’s opinion of you. If you neglect the need for a website, you are letting the internet tell customers what to think of you… and that’s not the internet’s job! You need to tell your own story so your customers can connect in a meaningful way. THIS is why we stress the importance of a website.

This can all seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you need help building an attractive site, hire someone to do so. Tell your story, find the right customers, and take charge of your own success. We are rooting for you!

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Vancouver Business Journal Features FeedUs.Media

Posted on Posted in Community

Happy Friday, friends! Today we’d like to thank Nicholas Shamnac and the Vancouver Business Journal for running an article about FeedUs.Media in this week’s edition!

Founded in January, Feed Us Media works with local farmers and food producers to meet the growing demand of our region’s consumers. The company helps food businesses address a range of issues including marketing, social media, web design and product promotion.

You can check the story out online at http://www.vbjusa.com/news/top-stories/new-marketing-firm-focuses-food/ or pick up a copy of the paper at many local businesses in downtown Vancouver.

People care about where their food comes from. Just look at Millennials. They want to know the story behind what they are consuming, and they aren’t afraid to pay a premium for that…. We want to be there, ready to help producers take advantage.

City of Vancouver Awarded Grant for Community Planning

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On March 2, the City of Vancouver received an award for the progressive Fourth Plain Forward Action Plan. The award was formally granted at the American Planning Association’s 2016 National Planning Conference in Phoenix, AZ, in April.

The Fourth Plain Forward Action Plan highlights the importance of small businesses in the International District of the city. The area is home to dozens of small businesses, restaurants, and family-owned enterprises, many of which are owned by first and second generation Americans. Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 10.16.23 AM The Action Plan addresses transportation corridors and the immediate need to connect producers with consumers along Fourth Plain Boulevard. The City of Vancouver has been working diligently with the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, and other community partners to promote businesses from I-5 to 65th Avenue along Fourth Plain.

For many years, the area along Fourth Plain suffered in economic isolation as the most economically depressed area of the city. It is home to many multi-unit housing complexes and at best, has served as a connector from Downtown to the Eastside of town. The city has put a lot of effort into promoting the benefits of the corridor; home to many Hispanic and Asian restaurants and businesses, the area is a veritable hub of small businesses. The award from the American Planning Association proves that the city’s promotion efforts have been a resounding success.

The collaborative efforts of all these partners helped produce a brochure of businesses in the corridor. You can find more information here: http://www.cityofvancouver.us/ced/page/fourth-plain-forward.

Congratulations again to the City of Vancouver for the reward of their efforts. By promoting small businesses in the International District, we can encourage positive economic growth while highlighting opportunities for future partnerships.