November 8, 2007

6 degrees of separation

I recently had the privilege to attend a USDA Farmer’s Market Summit. I met many people from inside and outside of government who are working to support the existing and new small farmers. Here is one example of how Washington policy affected reality.

A Senior Program Analyst from the Office of Refugee Settlement in DC provided funding to the Fresno Office of Economic Opportunity. The Office of Refugee Settlement focuses on helping Hmong immigrants, many of whom are excellent farmers. Through another DC organization, the Institute for Social and Economic Development working with the Office of Opportunity, a grant was provided to the Growers Collaborative. GC is part of the Community Alliance With Family Farmers with whom Kaiser Permanente has been partnering to get source identified sustainably grown food from small farmers onto the meal trays for patients in our hospitals. GC worked with some Hmong farmers who met these criteria. So that’s how Kalu Afu, a 29 year employee at Food Service Partners Kaiser Permanente’s inpatient food commissary, was able to place cherry tomatoes grown by Choua Vang, a Hmong farmer with 9 leased acres in Fresno, on the dinner salads for 4000 patients in 19 hospitals.