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Dear REAP Friends, We are all still cheering over a strong year-end campaign, excited that countless hours of deliberation on how to grow and deepen our impact is starting to come to fruition and that your support and investment means we hit the ground running in 2022. In that context, there is another big change coming: this spring, I will be moving on after serving as the Executive Director of this vital community organization for the past five and a half years. My family has an opportunity to temporarily relocate overseas, and as we see the window of time as a family of 4 get ever-smaller, we feel this was the right time to take the leap if we do this together. It has been a true honor and deep privilege to learn, listen, work and celebrate with so many smart and passionate people who choose to work to make the world a better place. Given the scale of our global - and local - problems, it’s tempting to give in to cynicism, maybe too easy to convince yourself you can’t do anything about it. And yet, every single day, I am surrounded by caring, creative humans who - to quote Theodore Roosevelt - step into the arena and dare greatly to rise to the challenge of dismantling racism, rebuilding a just food system, reversing environmental destruction and co-creating the community that reflects our diversity and shared values. And as I listen to the conversations of my own young teens, I feel even more hopeful that we are in good company with the next generation of changemakers coming our way. REAP is doing important work at the nexus of food systems, social justice and environmental protection and we are seeking that next dynamic leader to harness the momentum, continue to forge deep partnerships and lift up the ridiculously talented team at REAP who serve farmers, children, chefs, and food businesses and dare greatly every day to build a just and sustainable local food system. Maybe you know that person? Maybe you are that person?  I couldn’t imagine a better place to land, or a better time to be joining REAP. And I look forward to joyously writing those checks, attending farm dinners and contacting elected officials as a proud member of REAP Food Group. The position description is posted on our website, please help us spread the word. Yours truly, Helen Sarakinos ...

We’re pleased to announce that REAP Food Group recently received a USDA Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) grant through the Local Agriculture Marketing Program (LAMP) Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). The $250,000 award will be used to design and pilot a Wholesale Farm Fresh Atlas and readiness program to serve small- and medium-scale farmers in southern Wisconsin.   Building off of the strengths of the direct-to-consumer Farm Fresh Atlas, REAP will design and pilot a digital Wholesale version of the Farm Fresh Atlas. It also plans to create a Wholesale Readiness technical assistance program for small- to medium-scale farmers who want to sell wholesale in southern Wisconsin. This includes sales to aggregators, food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants, and anchor institutions such as hospitals and schools. With a projected cost of $256,284, the planning project will focus this program in southern Wisconsin, though many of the technical assistance materials will be available and useful to producers and buyers statewide.  “With many years assisting Wisconsin’s second largest school district with local food procurement, our farmer connections and our partnerships with hospitals and higher ed, REAP is well positioned to help both food producers and buyers understand and overcome the hurdles to get local food into institutional kitchens,” says REAP Executive Director Helen Sarakinos.  REAP Farm to Business Director Anna Landmark adds, “With the wealth of family farms and anchor institutions in southern WI, this region can really reap the economic benefit of investing in local and sustainably-grown food.”  The USDA invested a total of $75.4 million across 41 states to 172 LAMP projects within the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). LMLFPP grantees’ efforts support the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer markets and local and regional food business enterprises.   “These grants will help maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems. The [LAMP] grants have a history of generating new income sources for small, beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and creating new market opportunities for value-added and niche products.” -Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Meanwhile, we’re thrilled to congratulate Madison-based FairShare CSA Coalition on their own LFPP grant to build capacity and increase access to markets through an aggregated CSA model. ...

Pachamama es Vida by Julio Cachiguango

On November 23, REAP Executive Direction Helen Sarakinos teamed up with Mariela Quesada Centeno of Roots4Change in a thought-provoking FB Live conversation with the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies on Food Innovations in COVID-19. The pair shared the roots of and lessons learned from the collaborative Farms to Families Fund (FFF) which provided food for Latino families and supported local farmers and food producers hard-hit by COVID-19 from Spring, 2020-Spring, 2021. WI State Assembly Representative Francesca Hong, Grassroots Farm LLC farmer and Monticello Community Kitchen Co-op co-founder FL Morris, and La Crosse Environmental Sustainability Planner Lewis Kuhlman joined in the panel, sharing their own unique projects to improve food access during the pandemic. Watch the entire conversation here. ...

The Farm Fresh Atlas is here! Go beyond farmers’ markets to support local farmers through the Farm Fresh Atlas of Southern Wisconsin, organized by Madison-based REAP Food Group. Originally launched in 2002 as a trifold pamphlet, the latest edition is 40 pages detailing the region’s farms, farmers’ markets, restaurants, specialty stores, grocers, and other businesses dedicated to promoting good food grown well. Grab a copy at your local farmers’ markets or browse statewide at farmfreshatlas.org. ...

REAP and our Farm Fresh Atlas partners were recently in the national spotlight! We were featured in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Seeds of Success series which highlighted a USDA Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grant we received in 2016. The grant was awarded to launch, promote, and study the effects of a searchable, mobile-friendly, and online Farm Fresh Atlas. This support allowed us to create a consolidated Farm Fresh Atlas website for all state-wide Atlas publications. As a result: Atlas listees sales increased 50% from 2017 to 2019 Weekly customer counts increased 293% from 394 in 2017 to 1,500 in 2019 A three-year economic survey of farmers indicated 80% had increased sales resulting from the guides, an increase of $4.1 million in the state farm economy Forty-six beginning farmers and 322 experienced farmers received marketing training and resources to further advance their businesses Thank you so much to the USDA for their support of this project! It is an honor to publish the Farm Fresh Atlas of Southern Wisconsin each year and to advocate for Wisconsin's farmers and food producers. To view the entire report, please click here. ...

[EDIT: POSITION CLOSED] Posting Date: March 18, 2021Deadline for Application: April 15, 2021Location: Madison, WIAppointment: Full Time Join a team that is passionate about creating a just and sustainable local food system for all residents in Dane County and WI. We seek a team member who will share our commitment to bring curiosity, inclusivity, collaboration to the work of building a just, culturally responsive and resilient food system in Dane County and Wisconsin. Position Summary:REAP Food Group, based in Madison, WI, is inviting applications for a Farm to School Director, a role that will bring more healthy, WI-grown, and culturally appropriate food to children in K-12 settings, and provide educational resources around food and agriculture that reinforce our organizational values of equity and inclusivity. The primary focus of the work will be at the city and county level. REAP’s Farm to School partnership with Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) has been a model statewide for growing markets for local farmers and increasing access to local and sustainable food for all children. The Farm to School Director candidate will collaborate with colleagues who oversee institutional food procurement and community outreach programming to implement REAP’s Farm to School Program and provide strategic direction and program management to continue to grow our impact.REAP’s mission is to transform communities, economies and lives through the power of good food by: building the next generation of healthy eaters and leaders through youth education; educating and connecting sustainable WI farmers to institutional and individual buyers; strengthening and amplifying community-led solutions to food system challenges; Educating consumers so they can be advocates for actions and policies that support an equitable, just and environmentally sustainable food system; and, celebrating with community around good food*. We define “good food” as food that is produced, processed, sold, consumed, and re-circulated in a manner that is transparent, is racially and ethnically equitable and socially just, builds up thriving local economies, and promotes healthy and sustainable natural, social, and economic environments. Position Summary: Strategic Leadership– ● Lead strategy and goals for the Farm to School initiatives including the Farm to School Partnership with MMSD ● Nurture our Farm to School Project partnership with MMSD while evaluating strategic opportunities to grow our work to other districts in the county; ● Be informed and when needed, engaged, on relevant local, state and federal policies affecting the Farm to School program; Program Management: ● Oversee our initiatives to engage and educate diverse communities of kids including Harvest of the Month activities, summer Farm to School programming, and fresh snack educational resources; ● Support and facilitate successful procurement and promotion of local foods by Madison Metropolitan School District for menu items, garden bars, snack program and UpRoot Farm to School food truck; ● Manage REAP Farm to School Snack Program to ensure qualified schools receive a weekly REAP-sourced fresh snack and accompanying educational materials; Outreach and Communication– ● Represent REAP and the Farm to School Program on statewide network of WI Farm to School leaders, and on local coalitions and committees....

REAP applauds the Governor's and DATCP's focus on Wisconsin farmers and food. On Friday, February 5, Governor Evers announced a $43M investment in local farms and food systems in the upcoming state budget. The plan is wide reaching but we are excited to see the unprecedented focus on small farms, local food system infrastructure and higher investment in conservation programs - initiatives that bring us all closer to a just local and sustainable food system in Wisconsin. Our friends at Wisconsin Farmers Union do a terrific job of advocating for good food farmers at the State Capitol and their analysis of the budget initiatives is a great resource if you want to dive deeper. Governor Evers' budget incluces the following investments (a full list of the proposed actions found here): Invest $20M to help connect Wisconsin food banks and pantries with Wisconsin producers;Fund the Farm-to-School Grant Program ($400K over biennium);Create and Fund Farm-to-Fork to build connections between farmers and non-school entities looking to purchase local food for their cafeterias ($552K over biennium);Increase the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program ($350K over biennium);Provide additional funding for Something Special from Wisconsin marketing program ($400K over biennium);Create and fund a Small Farm Diversity Grant program – support producers adding new products, increasing production of an ag product where market opportunities exist, or starting a new farming operation ($250K over biennium). "Coming out of a brutal pandemic, these initiatives are a wise and welcome investment in rural revitalization and food security," says REAP Executive Director Helen Sarakinos. "This budget represents a needed first step to rebuild resilience in our food system so Wisconsin farmers can feed Wisconsin residents." Every day, REAP works with our partners and supporters to develop local food supply chains, strengthen connections between community and farmers and grow the voices calling for a resilient food system. We couldn't agree more that it's time to join this fight for Wisconsin farmers to ensure a good future in Wisconsin for farmers, for eaters and for our clean water and land. REAP has advocated for funding Farm to School grants and programs in DATCP, for COVID-19 relief payments to benefit small and beginning farmers and we have worked hard to support farms that were hard-hit when closures of farmers' markets and businesses shut down their sales. So, what can you do? Stay informed! Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter to stay on top of REAP's work and opportunities to get involved. You should also follow us on Facebook and Instagram, where we post thought-provoking articles about food and sustainability. We will be posting updates and sharing additional opportunities to act in the coming months Voice your support! We ask you to take a moment to thank Governor Evers for valuing small farms and local food systems and for walking the walk. Let them know this budget reflects what matters to Wisconsin residents! Your email or phone call mattes and it only takes a moment.Call: Governor's Office: 608-266-1212,Email: share your approval online at this site.It doesn't have to be long, simply state who you...

Join a fun and tight-knit team that is passionate about creating a just, local and sustainable food system in Southern Wisconsin. We seek a team member who will share our commitment to bring curiosity, inclusivity, collaboration and fun to the work of building a better world. REAP Food Group, a non-profit organization based in Madison, WI, believes that you can transform communities, economies and lives through the power of good food. We do this by: building the next generation of healthy eaters through youth education; educating and connecting sustainable WI farmers to institutional to individual buyers; strengthening and amplifying community-led solutions to food system challenges; Educating consumers so they can be advocates for actions and policies that support an equitable, just and environmentally sustainable food system; and, celebrating with community around good food. ...

Last month, Roots4Change Co-op with REAP Food Group launched the Farms to Families fund to bring Resilience Boxes of nourishing locally and sustainably-grown foods from WI family farms to Latino/immigrant families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Two weeks ago, we launched a fund drive to raise $25,000 to support this unique and important work. Our communities rose to the occasion! In just over two weeks, you have helped raise $45,000 for this fund! We are humbled by the generosity of neighbors for one another in this community and so grateful we are able to hit the ground running. Over these last four weeks, we've reached hundreds of adults, children and elderly with fresh greens and nutritious eggs, meat, dairy and grains, even locally sourced handmade tortillas. We've supported more than twenty local farms and farm businesses, many of them minority-owned and operated. We have gotten positive comments from families and producers about the program, and gratitude for the labor put into growing this food. We are also enjoying seeing beautiful photos of the traditional dishes and recipes being prepared with the resilience boxes. We have had an outpouring of support from growers, food businesses and organizations who donated additional items including: Rooted & Badger Rock Community Center, Madison Sourdough & Neighbor Loaves, RE Golden, Landmark Creamery, Roth Cheese/Crave Brothers, Victor's Farm, David Heide & Liliana's, Agrecol and NessAlla Kombucha! The reality is that the need for these Resilience Boxes grows every day.  Our original goal of 100 families doubled to 200 families after the first week of resilience box deliveries. Despite our collective efforts, we are met with a growing number of families requiring support or/increased quantity of food/box due to their families' composition. The impact of this pandemic will continue to affect our neighbors and struggling farms and producers longer than we hoped. So, we're putting your investment to work, reaching more people for a longer time. The Farms to Families Fund is exemplifying that a truly just food system is one where those who grow our food and those who consume it are intrinsically linked, supporting one another's mutual well-being and health. We are setting a new stretch goal of $60,000 by the end of May to keep creating resilience boxes into the fall and to grow the number of families who can access them. To get there, we've lined up some great incentives to give! Two of our beloved food businesses in Dane County are stepping up to the plate to match the generosity of our communities.During the month of May, The Willy Street Coop will match every gift up to $5000. Also in May, Sitka Salmon Shares will match every gift for an additional $2,500.If you help us raise $7,500, they will make an additional gift of $7,500 which gets us to our stretch goal! Additionally, Willy Street Co-op is also generously matching another $5,000 to the Emergency Farmer Fund set up by Dane County Farmers' Market​ and FairShare CSA Coalition throughout May​! It's great to see this kind of support for our farmers at this time. We are grateful to everyone who has gotten involved with the project. Every dollar you give will be matched in May, make...

Pachamama es Vida by Julio Cachiguango

To address the impact of the pandemic on Latino/Indigenous families and small local farms, REAP and Roots4Change created the Farms to Families Fund/de Granjas a Familias Fondo. The program will purchase fresh, healthy, locally grown food from regional family farms and provide it to Madison-area Latino/Indigenous residents and families hard-hit by job loss, food insecurity, lack of access to social services, and federal anti-immigration provisions. With donor support, REAP and Roots4Change plan to purchase fresh food from local farms in the Farm Fresh Atlas network and minority farmers. They will then package and distribute food “resilience boxes” to a network of 200 Latino/Indigenous families, many of whom work in the heavily impacted food service and hospitality industries. Your support helps build resilience in our community for struggling neighbors, workers and family farms. All gifts will be 100% directed toward this emergency initiative. Donations to Farms to Families Fund / Fondo de Granjas a Familias can be made online at reapfoodgroup.org/farms-to-families. The $25,000 target will help us meet our goal to supply resilience boxes to 100 families weekly until July. ...

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