RCED Director Luke Mahin was able to attend the Harvesting Opportunity Conference in 2018 through his work on the North Central Kansas Food Council. Mahin was quoted in the article ‘Building Local Food Systems Through Conversations’ below by Sarah Green for the Kansas Rural Center. Click below to read the full article.
Luke Mahin, executive director of Republic County Economic Development and a member of the North Central Kansas Food Council, attended the Harvesting Opportunity in Kansas symposium and found it useful in thinking about how the regional council could be helpful to local food and agriculture businesses.
Some of it, he said, reinforced his current approach to economic development.
“The conversation needs to be asking a farmer what they want to do and what their goals are, instead of the government angle of ‘we’re here to help,’” he said.
Mahin and Bates spoke about the symposium to the Kansas House Agriculture Committee on Jan. 29, 2019, and, more broadly, about some of the efforts to build local food systems in Kansas.
The committee members asked questions about economic impact and future plans, but they also told stories both during and after the informational hearing about their own experiences with gardens, farms, markets, and local producers, Bates and Mahin said – underscoring the need for those conversations to be part of the bigger narrative.
“If you don’t have a good experience with a farmers’ market or a local producer, it is hard to connect to that value,” Mahin said.
Rep. Jason Probst, a Hutchinson democrat who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, suggests inviting policymakers to farms, markets and other businesses in the food system to help them better understand what’s going well and what could be changed through policies.
North Central Kansas Food Council
The North Central Kansas Food Council is made up of a diverse group of public and private stakeholders in a collaborative effort to advocate for enhanced quality of life for all residents through sustainable access to regionally produced food options, economic opportunity, and educational resources. The group met for the first time in February 2017 and encompasses all 12 counties in the NCRPC primary service area including Clay, Cloud, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Marshall, Mitchell, Ottawa, Republic, Saline, and Washington.
The mission of the Council is to advocate for enhanced quality of life for all residents through sustainable access to regional produced food options, economic opportunity, and educational resources.
Regional Food System Assessment
Healthy and robust community food systems help to support and sustain healthy communities and strong local economies. In 2017-2018 the North Central Kansas Food Council contracted with an independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the North Central Kansas regional food system to better understand current strengths and gaps. The North Central Kansas Regional Food System Assessment summarizes those results. Reports were also prepared for each of the 12 counties in the North Central Kansas Food Council.
Click to view the county assessments.