Sustainability:

    I received this press release today which was issued from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry concerning a project that I am very excited about. My friend Robert Waldrop (a modern-day Hobbit and urban farmer) is the force behind this but momentum is quickly picking up.

      OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD, AND FORESTRY

      2800 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105

      February 4, 2003

      RETAIL FOOD COOPERATIVES COULD

      BRING FARMERS AND CONSUMERS CLOSER

      AND ENCOURAGE LOCAL CONSUMPTION

      For More Information Contact: Robert Waldrop (405) 557-0436 or (405)

      613-4688 Or Jack Carson (405)522-4575

      Oklahoma City- Ben Franklin said a penny saved is a penny earned. Using his logic, by keeping more of the Oklahoma food dollar in-state works to create wealth for small farmers and rural Oklahoma.

      Bringing farmers and consumers together for mutually beneficial direct marketing is something the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry (ODAFF) has toward for decades. Now a new idea has been proposed that to benefit both groups and could be a financial boon to the state as well.

      Recently a private group has proposed beginning Oklahoma Food Retail Cooperatives across the state and meetings getting the idea to farmers and consumers are planned statewide.

      The premise for the plan is fairly simple, said Robert Waldrop, organizer for the group. Producers and Oklahoma food companies will be offered the opportunity to stock their goods on store shelves and consumers will be invited to join the cooperative for a small fee or surcharge to take advantage of local foods.

      “The concept complements our current farmers markets but offers the advantages of year round hopping and a greater variety of products,” he notes. “Fresh meats are probably not an option but the storescould easily carry frozen meat or even feature a meatless meat market where consumers order meats for pickup on a specified date.”

      Individual cooperatives could tailor their practices to meet the needs of their communities, Waldrop adds. Town meetings have been scheduled to provide more information of the project and let interested producers and consumers sit down to talk about how their local cooperatives should be designed.

      “Our first meeting was last week with a group of small farmers and representatives of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah,” he said. “They are very interested in pursuing this type of cooperative and have agreed to pursue the project. I would imagine that the type of cooperative agreement they work out will vary from what would work for Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or even my hometown of Frederick.”

      Future meetings are scheduled for Stillwater, Oklahoma City, Norman, Woodward, McAlester, Clinton, Bartlesville and Lawton. For more information contact Waldrop’s website at www.oklahomafood.org/retail.htm or call at (405) 557-0436 or (405)613-4688.

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