RUMFORD – The Oxford County Local Food Network will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at No View Farm, 855 South Rumford Road.

The network is a group of small farmers, potential markets and businesses that was formed in January of 2005 in response to the Fund for Rural America Projects. The group has the potential to make a difference in development of new markets for small farms and increased distribution of local food and will strengthen local economies in Maine.

The network has been selected to receive technical assistance as part of the Fund for Rural America project administered through the Department of Resource Economics and Policy at the University of Maine.

Technical assistance has been contracted with Bob Kasputes from the Small Business Development Centers of Maine. Barbara Murphy, Oxford County Cooperative Extension, and Ken Morse, Healthy Oxford Hills, are lending expertise to the project.

The group is working toward common goals: create a local food network directory for farmers, sellers and buyers; include a glossary of agricultural terms; and create a hard copy directory for distribution and an on-line directory that allows the growers to update information.

Through educational outreach, the network will increase area interest in local foods and farming. Farmers and interested residents will participate in on-farm and in-school projects and activities and increase food access to the public by promoting more community-type gardens.

It will create the opportunity for food stamp recipients to purchase locally grown products at farmers markets and create an Educational Fresh Food Feast Expo where farmers can exhibit and retail their products.

The group has authored and received a grant of $1,000 from Maine Initiatives and a $300 donation from the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. The funds have been earmarked for the creation and distribution of a local directory.

Anyone interested in helping is invited to attend the next meeting. A local foods dinner will be served. RSVP Annette at 364-7085 for directions and additional information.

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