Building a new complete, wholly integrated system for local food is daunting and challenging. However, there is such tremendous capacity in the knowledge and experience of people in the Fresno region. We know it can be done and done exceptionally well. Some of the same hard work, thinking, innovation and spirit that built the food powerhouse in the Fresno region, which exports and feeds people around the globe, can be turned inward to also build a world-class local food system that is community-centered and serving.
Imagine in the not too distant future, a Fresno mother sending her 13-year daughter to a neighborhood grocery store to pick up some salad fixings for dinner - fresh tomatoes, lettuce, a cucumber or two and a bunch of green onions – and some fresh baked bread. The store is not just any ordinary convenience-type store, but rather a Food Commons Fresno owned and run neighborhood market, a relatively small establishment but filled with the freshest, highest quality food from the local region around Fresno, a region known around the world for its agricultural prowess.
Imagine the fresh vegetables she picks are from Food Commons Fresno (FCF) farms, the jar of pickles she grabs is from a FCF processing facility, the bread from a FCF bakery, all delivered to her neighborhood store in a FCF truck, which operates out of a central FCF distribution hub where there is also a FCF processing plant filled with workers all trained in the craft of artisanal food making, not to mention a large bustling FCF public market at the same site.
In how product moves, it’s really not much different than in the current food system, except it is specifically designed for local food. Think about a back to the future scenario where we return to the way food was done 100 years ago, but with a 21st century spin. Dial back to when there were local dairies, local family farms, local meat processing, local canneries, etc. and to when we had neighborhood butchers, bakers and candlestick makers all there to serve the local community. Now fast forward and throw in the internet and social media, computers, cell phones and apps, the latest in farming and food processing technology, product safety, marketing innovations, etc. coupled with a new business and ownership model nurtured by community stewardship, and you have Food Commons Fresno.
Imagine the agricultural and food prowess and capacity of this region turned inward to create a model local food system, one that is admired and respected around the country/world, so much so, that other locales are copying the model and creating and building their own Food Commons. You don’t have to imagine this because it’s already happening in Atlanta, Georgia and Auckland, New Zealand and other communities are planning to come online in 2015.
Stretch your imagination a little further and imagine this whole local food system being owned by the citizens of Fresno, not unlike the citizens of Green Bay owning the Green Bay Packers. So the 13-year old girl shopping for dinner is doing so at her own store or at least one in which her family owns a share.
After 2+ years of careful and thoughtful planning, the first steps to launching such a system are being made by a talented team of Fresnans working in close partnership with our Food Commons National team of experienced food system leaders.
Our FCF Core Team, which is co-led by Karen Schmidt and Dan O’Connell along with Jenny Saklar and Kiel Schmidt are supported by a larger advisory committee made up of highly-regarded community leaders in Fresno.
We are so grateful for the tremendous cooperation and willingness of these leaders to work with us in this pioneering effort. We invite you to join with us in this bold venture that we know will have substantial benefits for you, your family and fellow Fresnans.
President and Coordinating Director