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Conference discusses local food

Food and agricultural author and speaker Mark Winne will headline a daylong event open to the public next week in Rogue River.

The Rogue Valley Food Summit is the culmination of a year of collaborative workshops throughout Jackson and Josephine counties held with the goal of improving the local food system. Presented as a conference, the March 8 summit will provide information on planning and implementing the priorities identified by more than 400 of the region's residents in about a dozen meetings since last March. Known as FEASTS and Community Conversations, the most recent meeting was earlier this month in the Illinois Valley.

Emerging from the meetings as top concerns in the region were: cooking-skills education, healthy-food access, local-food infrastructure and marketing, community gardening, mapping food-system resources and measuring local-food consumption. These topics will be covered from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in lectures and breakout sessions at New Beginnings Church, 270 W. Evans Creek Road, Rogue River.

A lunch made from fresh, local ingredients is included in the $15 registration fee, if paid by Tuesday, March 5. A limited numbers of spaces will be available at the door for $20. Register at www.tinyurl.com/b79dnln or call 541-618-4019.

Goals of the summit include sharing the outcomes of the Rogue Valley food system-planning process, fostering collaboration and leadership and engaging the community in making positive changes across the food system. The event is hosted by ACCESS, Thrive and the Food System Steering Committee with funding from Ashland Food Co-op, Meyer Memorial Trust and Jackson County Department of Health & Human Services.

Winne is one of several "expert panelists" participating in the summit. He is the author of "Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty" and "Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners and Smart Cookin' Mamas." He also has co-founded a number of food and agriculture policy groups.

Read more in next week's food section about recent projects initiated during the FEAST process and upcoming efforts to make a difference.

— Sarah Lemon