The litany of bad news about poor New Port Richey is stifling. As a resident in Holiday, I live just outside the borders of New Port Richey, but I love the quaint little town where my Gulf High, my alma mater, resides. The city by the river in my eyes has a lot of potential.
I could imagine a thriving city where there is an abundance of activity and everyone is lucratively employed rebuilding our town for the future.
If you have followed my blogs in the past or if you search my name on the Patch, you can see my history: I've consistently been talking about how important local food is for our economy for over four years in the community. As a community networker, I've connected several hundred people to people and projects throughout the Tampa bay area. I'm working on a new project that I'd like to share with everyone.
Over the past month, working with several gardeners in the local area, we've helped set up a local food cooperative. The cooperative’s mission is to help establish a local food movement in the area and work as a hybrid both as a producer and consumer cooperative helping both cooperate in growing the local food economy.
In order to accomplish this, we have set-up a local online marketplace where local growers can list for sale their produce and cottage industry made goods. Over the past several weeks, the online market has opened up and grown beyond our expectations. We are so excited to be delivering fresh healthy local food to our community. We want to encourage the growth of local sustainable food grown out of our own backyards!
We currently have in our market more than 17 growers and 130+ products made locally in our own backyards. The online marketplace is located at www.suncoastco-op.com Weekly on Saturdays, producers bring their goods to West Pasco Habitat for Humanity Restore on Madison Ave, in New Port Richey, and customers come later to pick up the goods. More local pick-ups for at the New Port Richey Library and down south in Tarpon Springs are in the plans along with a delivery service.
The market is just like an eBay for local food. You can pick and choose what you want and make your grocery list from local farms.
So many issues are tied to our food system: Health, the economy, the environment and even community all are interrelated to what we put on the plate everyday. If every one of us shifted 10 percent of our diet toward local food, we could shift millions of dollars out of the hands of multinational corporations and into the local farmers that are working to grow the soil right here in our local area. By acting with every bite we encourage a healthier community, a robust economy, and an environment that when soils are tended with organic means actually regenerates fertility.
Over the next couple of months, keep checking back for more information as we roll out a local food movement in our area. We hope to stimulate change in West Pasco and North Pinellas towards a robust local food economy. If you would like to volunteer or assist us in anyway, please contact our co-op at email@example.com
We will be hosting several events both in Pinellas and Pasco as well as film showings relating to food. We are in need of several volunteers to help us roll out our mission of bringing fresh local food grown chemical free to our community. We will be also having workshops on how to become a market gardner as well as skill sharing. Stay tuned for the roll out of a time bank allowing you to accrue credit for your volunteer times and use them in exchange for services. Another project being focused on is Permablitz where as in our Habitat for Humanity garden (Youtube Video attached to blog) we gather volunteers together to sheet mulch an area to grow a garden. Please Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
But beyond helping adults, I personally want to encourage the roots of our society- the children- to learn how to grow food. That’s why I have put together a petition to the Pasco County School Board to raise vegetables and fruit orchards on school property. Children could raise food and sell it locally to help the school budgets while also learning important life skills.
Growing food allows children to learn how to become self-reliant. We as humans have for thousands of years always learned how to raise food yet only in the past 50 years has this knowledge been falling out of our school system while the waistlines of students keep creeping up along with government assistance for food.
I am volunteering my own knowledge and self towards that end. I hope that you all will take some time and read and sign my petition to support this and share it. http://www.change.org/petitions/pasco-county-school-board-grow-vegetable-gardens-and-fruit-orchards-at-pasco-schools-k-12
You can keep up to date with our events and see pictures of past events on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SuncoastCoop
Discuss local food and much more on our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/264378686981983/