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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. ...

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