Thursday, January 31, 2013

A great program this Friday - CommUnity Wealth Creation Pembroke

My friends Dr. Jifunza Wright Carter M.D., M.P.H. and Fred Carter founded and manage the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living.

Their organization assists communities in reducing their carbon footprint and fossil fuel use.

Their good work also focuses on the many great opportunities available to create sustainable economic development through food and agriculture.

The Black Oaks Center works in both Chicago and the Pembroke Township area, an historically African American farming community southeast of Chicago.  

I plan on joining Dr. Jifunza and Fred this Friday at an event called CommUnity Wealth Creation Pembroke.  

This will highlight many good programs the USDA is supporting.

The program begins at 12:30 PM Friday Feb. 1, 2013 at the Lorenzo R. Smith School in Hopkins Park, IL.

Among the highlights of the program:

   - Honor our Black Farmers

   - Learn about USDA Programs
   - Learn about job and business opportunities in agriculture
   - Learn about Rotating Apprenticeship Farmer Training Pembroke (RAFT-P)

I look forward to learning more.  Join us!

Download the CommUnity Wealth Creation Pembroke event information.  PDF

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living.

Lorenzo R. Smith School.  4120 S Wheeler Rd, Hopkins Park, IL 6094.  (815) 944-5219 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Next presentation. The Farmland Investment Fair, presented by The Chicago Farmers. This Saturday Feb. 2. Join us!

My next presentation is this Saturday at the Farmland Investment Fair presented by The Chicago Farmers in Joliet, IL.

I'll be speaking about the profitable opportunities to grow agriculture sales in the emerging local and regional food markets.

The experiments we've run in Iowa County, Wisconsin and at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen show that new markets for safely and minimally processed foods can play a major role in both rural and urban economic development.

Farms can generate significant new income, diversify their sales channels and build brand awareness for their food and farm. 

Food entrepreneurs in urban areas can partner with rural processing facilities for year-round access to safe, nutritious, local foods of all kinds.

The Chicago Farmers is an organization that provides a forum for education and the exchange of information between its members and others allied to agribusiness. 

Their Farmland Investment Fair is this Saturday at the Weitendorg Agricultural Center in Joliet, IL.  There is a registration link on The Chicago Farmers site below.

Join us!  

Farms - like all smart businesses and all well managed portfolios - need to diversify.  Our Innovation Kitchen model gives smart farmers the chance to affordably plan, experiment, and grow with these new opportunities.   

The Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair  Saturday Feb. 2, 2013.  Join us!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship - Save the date - Sat. April 27, 2013 - Iowa County, Wisconsin

Spatulas Up!  Save the date.  April 27. 

The Wisconsin Grilled cheese Championship returns!

Iowa County is again hosting the Second Annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship.  It will be held Saturday, April 27, 2013 in beautiful Mineral Point, Wisconsin.  

Our inaugural event last year drew grilled cheese lovers from 7 states.

You should visit.  You should compete!

Don't miss the fun, the drama, the sheer Wisconsin melted cheese wonderfulness at the world's most interesting grilled cheese championship.

Only in Wisconsin.  Iowa County welcomes you to the second annual Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship!

Sat. April 27, 2013.  Be there or be unaware - of grilled cheese at it's greatest!

The Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship

Free general admission tickets.  That's right.  It's free but you need to register!

Visiting Iowa County

Thanks to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for continued sponsorship of the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championships.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cleveland Crops! - Cleveland rocks!

I love Cleveland.  

My last business had great friends and customers all over the Cleveland region.  I always loved visiting and working there.

This week, we hosted a really fun visit by new group of friends from the Cleveland area at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen. 

A coalition of folks visited from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Cleveland Mayor's office, and some really cool community groups.

We all enjoyed the visit.  I especially was grateful to learn more about a great program in Cleveland called Cleveland Crops, an agricultural training and employment of the Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities, in partnership with their nonprofit organization, SAW, Inc.

In addition to managing and operating greenhouses and a processing center for year-round production, Cleveland Crops will employ 100 people with disabilities and farm properties of one acre or more throughout Cuyahoga County.

My pal Zina Murray (far left in photo, next to Annette Pierce Mistress of the Universe) also came up from Chicago to join our discussions. 

Thanks for a great visit.  Cleveland Crops!  Cleveland rocks!

Cleveland Crops / Standard Farm Facebook page

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Acala Farms takes center stage with flavor-infused cottonseed oils

My friend Sarah Botham just posted a great update about their Acala Farms Flavor-infused Cottonseed Oils.

Our Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is proud to work with Acala Farms and Sarah to grow their wonderful new brand.

I'll link to original articles below.

From Acala Farms:  "Acala Farms Flavor-infused Cottonseed Oils took center stage before the media and the cotton community at the annual Beltwide Cotton Conference, held recently in San Antonio, TX, and came away a crowd favorite. We're so proud. Read all about it."

From Farm Futures: "Re-introducing cotton seed oil as a cooking choice and showing the way to provide the salt and spice flavor with no added salt or pepper, Botham Brands of Wisconsin is launching Alcala Farms cooking oils, with the help of Cotton Incorporated.

From AgWired: "Cotton Incorporated held one of the best press conferences I've ever attended... featuring a cooking demonstration with flavor-infused cottonseed oils."

Congratulations Acala Farms!

Farm Futures:  Flavored Cottonseed Oil for Gourmet Cooking.      Botham Brands launches Acala Farms cottonseed oils in various Southwestern flavors."  By Dan Crummett .  Published: Jan 11, 2013

AgWired: Cooking with Cottonseed Oil.   Posted January 11, 2013.  

Acala Farms.  

Innovation Kitchen

Friday, January 04, 2013

Future food trends - Wisconsin

My friend Greg Lawless with the University of Wisconsin Extension just posted a cool new series of interviews on future food trends.

My contribution is the role our Innovation Kitchens can play in this food renaissance.  Innovation and entrepreneurship are needed in food and ag. 

From Greg's eMail:

"I’ve had the good fortune in my career to rub elbows with many fascinating people in Wisconsin’s food industry.  In October, I asked the following nine individuals to share what they see as future food trends:"

--Brandon Scholz, President of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, Madison
--Jeff Mauer, grocery owner, Fresh Madison Market, Madison
--Will Allen, Founder and CEO of Growing Power, Milwaukee
--Bartlett Durand, meat processor, Black Earth Meats, Black Earth
--Peter Robertson, pasta maker, RPs Pasta, Madison
--Pete Tsiritidis, grocery owner, Pete’s Fruit Market, Milwaukee
--Mark Olson, pesto maker, Renaissance Farms, Spring Green
--Andrea Yoder, organic vegetable grower, Harmony Valley Farms, Viroqua
--Rick Terrien, Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, Mineral Point

Thanks to Greg and UW Extension.  This work promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in  food and agriculture.  Forward.

Visit the YouTube index for these interviews.   2-3 minutes each

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Thank you Thomas Edison. Happy 2013!

I was fortunate to be able to spend my late Dad's birthday at Thomas Edison's Botanic Research Laboratory in Florida.

Mr Edison invented to idea of a dedicated research lab - "set up with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement."  He is credited with 1,093 US patents as well as many foreign ones.

One of my favorite quotes about how innovation works is from Mr. Edison:  "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

I took this photo at the Edison and Ford Estates, in the Edison Family library.  I think it represents Mr. Edison's vision and execution.

While Mr. Edison did not invent the electric light bulb, he was the first to create a commercially viable electric light bulb.  It is a wondrous story of dedication, perspiration and the ability to build a smarter future.

I was also reading a great new book at the time about Mr. Edison called "Midnight Lunch, 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success", by Sarah Miller Caldicott, the Great grandniece of Thomas Edison.  It's a great read with many insights into Mr. Edison's work and how it can be applied to organizations today.

We are using many of these ideas to create and support innovative opportunities in small food processing through our Innovation Kitchen model.  We want to run as many experiments as we can in the most efficient ways to create smart, new economic opportunities for food entrepreneurs worldwide. 

This year is your time to make a contribution, to experiment with new ideas and new enterprises of all kinds.  Are you waiting for inspiration?  Remember Mr. Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."  

Start now.  Happy 2013!

Thomas Alva Edison at Wikipedia.  Quotes above from this entry.

Innovation Kitchens

Midnight Lunch: The 4 Phases of Team Collaboration Success from Thomas Edison's Lab, at publisher Wiley & Sons

Edison Botanic Research Labratory