In 2014, I was inspired to help establish a cohesive local food system in the Inland Northwest. After many meetings with individuals in the Coeur d’Alene area to assess the level of interest for such an initiative, it became clear that the answer was a definitive yes!
The first convening of the board of directors was held in April 2014 and after much deliberation, the group landed on the name of the Inland Northwest Food Network. Our mission is to connect people, place, food and farms through education and outreach. We provide solutions-oriented programs to help us achieve our vision of a resilient, community food system that celebrates our region's food and promotes health for individuals, the environment, and our local economy.
In January 2015, we launched our first public program with a presentation by local historian Robert Singletary entitled “The History of Food and Farming in Kootenai County”. Since then, we have hosted Chew on This, a monthly educational program that explores myriad aspects of food systems, created a Local Lending Program, organized the Food for Thought Book Club, the popular Seasonal Kitchen cooking classes, the Power of Produce (PoP) Club children’s program, farm to table dinners, Seed Swaps, and workshops on a variety of topics.
Four years later, we are still finding our way forward. We have had tremendous public interest in our work and are busily working to establish systems and structures to support our vision. Many talented volunteers have stepped forth to help with organizing our programs, creating policies and procedures, and laying down a foundation for us to grow. We have benefitted from our partnership with the Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development Council (based in Moscow, ID) that has served as our sponsor providing much needed fiscal and legal oversight, but we are now in the process of securing our own nonprofit status!
We are excited about our plans for the future and invite anyone who wishes to be more involved to consider becoming a member, making a donation (running an organization like this takes more than goodwill!), or volunteering. We also invite you to check out our upcoming events on our website (sign up here to receive our monthly e-newsletter) or on Facebook. Let’s work together to build a movement that supports our individual health while supporting our local economy and our planet!
About the Author:
Teri McKenzie is passionate about both food and community building, and recognized early on that any social gathering worth its salt includes food. A returned Peace Corps volunteer and inveterate humanitarian, Teri has decades of experience both in the nonprofit sector and in higher education. With a Masters degree in Whole Systems Design/Nonprofit Leadership and drawing inspiration from the teachings of the natural world, she is a firm believer in the collective wisdom and creativity of people to address the problems we currently face. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, music and zoning out with her cat.