It's been a busy last two days.
Yesterday I worked all day gathering data so I could set up an action plan for getting a local food atlas for the northern counties off the ground. I called Miriam Grunes from the REAP organization (thanks to my friend, Jane Hansen at UWEX for the contact info) for advice and help. Then I called the Iron County Development organization and Northern State Bank to see if they might be interested in sponsoring or underwriting an atlas. The bank said "yes" and to call them back when I get the project more formalized, but Iron County hemmed and hawed -- quite understandably. I realize I need to work the project the other way around; that is, first I need to at least get a rough idea of how many producers who might be interested in listing their operations in an atlas. What I did was compile a list of all the farmers markets I could find in the northern 12 counties -- Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Vilas, Forest, Florence, Price, Oneida, Taylor, Lincoln, and Langlade. I will call them all next week and see if I can get a rough idea of the number of vendors for each market. I also looked up the Native American reservations in the target counties and got contact information for them. I will also call them next week to see if they might be interested in listing in an atlas. I was surprised at the number of Reservations; I had no idea the Native American population was so large in Wisconsin. (I suppose if I were a native Wisconsinsite I wouldn't be so surprised.) There is Red Cliff, Bad River, and Mole Lake representing the Ojibwe; Forest County Potawatomi, Mohican at Stockbridge-Munsee, and the Menominee. I e-mailed Langlade County and found out that they do, indeed, have a farmers market, and they kindly provided me with the farmers market contact info. Terrific! The guy at Iron County Development gave me the name of a man named Dave Dumke who is active in Douglas County with local food, and he suggested I link up with him. I will certainly do that and see if we might be able to join forces. I would love to get enough people together who would be interested in forming a structured regional food economy group -- a group that would work on local food policy issues with local governments; a group that micro-agripreneurs could ok to for business guidance and resource information; a group possibly organized as a non-profit organization that would be better able to obtain grant monies to help start agriculture related community projects like organic meat, poultry, and fish processing facilities or community kitchens. But that, of course, is just a dream at this point in time. I keep remembering that line from the movie "Contact" where Ellie's dad says, "Small steps, Ellie; small steps."
I spent most of the day today trying to figure out what size paper I would need to create a 3-crossfold (right angle) brochure where when folded the front cover is 11" long and about 6.25" wide. I would like to set up a "dummy" atlas to work on as I compile data, save the final version to a CD, and take the CD to a printer to get their advice on format. I will try to work up the dummy with my Publisher 2007 program. I may be able to work the location balloons on the different County maps with my Paint Shop Pro program. (WisDOT says we can use their maps with due credit as the maps are paid by taxpayer dollars and therefore public domain.)(ALWAYS go to the Government first when you are looking for information because the chances are that somewhere in the bureaucracy is exactly the information you are looking for and it will be free to use because taxpayers have paid for it!) I think when I finish with this Atlas project I'll write an e-book detailing how to do it so the next person who wants to get an atlas off the ground will save some time and trouble. Maybe I'll do it in Google docs and just publicly post it; I'll have to think about it.
I ordered three more poultry brooders, some latex work gloves, and a logging chain so I can drag logs out of the woods from Farmtek and should get the order by Tuesday at the latest. Also ordered some books from my Wish List at Amazon (even though I know I shouldn't have!).
Well, have to run. Talk to you soon!