RUMFORD – A group charged with boosting the sale and consumption of locally grown foods will meet this week to further the effort.

The Agricultural Commission expects to create several subcommittees devoted to elements of a 32-page plan for growers and producers to get their products to market.

That meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at the River Valley Technology Center. Any farmer, business or organization representative interested in finding ways to provide local foods to area people is invited to attend.

Beverly Crosby, spokeswoman for much of the local food movement and administrative assistant for the River Valley Growth Council, said letters will be sent to each of the 10 River Valley towns asking selectmen to appoint a member to the commission. That will allow the commission to organize subcommittees to work on a farmers’ market, community garden project, shared kitchen, bylaw development, a liaison with schools and other components of the plan.

One component is a program where consumers agree to purchase a certain amount of produce from farmers. Similar programs are available in Franklin County and in the Norway area.

The commission began about two years ago after a study showed agriculture was or could have a significant economic impact on the River Valley area. It was funded by a $10,000 federal grant.

Additional funding sources must also be found, Crosby said.

Mark Hews, an agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Threshold to Maine, has been working with the commission, as well as with the Shared Use Kitchen Committee, as a technical assistant.

He said, during initial plans for developing a communal kitchen last fall, that such a facility would provide bakers, canners and others a place to produce their products that has the necessary licenses and equipment.

The committee met last month with the director of the Region 9 School of Applied Technology, Brenda Gammon, to discuss a possible partnership with the school.

“I am interested in benefiting the students of Region 9 as well as the committees we serve. We will need to gather much more information before we can make any decisions, and of course it will need to be presented to the board,” she said in an e-mail.

That conversation will continue at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the Region 9 school in Mexico when the Shared Use Kitchen Committee meets.

A proposal is currently being prepared by Hews that could soon go before the Region 9 administration, Crosby said.



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