Sustainable agriculture and strong local economies (including local food) have been a vital part of our mission since the very beginning. Our organizational goals are to achieve a just local agriculture and food system for all by:
- Strengthening access to affordable, healthy food,
- Bolstering sustainable practices and profitable family agriculture,
- Fostering businesses that re-circulate financial capital within and among rural communities,
- Encouraging local food production and consumption,
- Introducing local nutritious food to school children through Farm to School, and
- Supporting policies that remove barriers to local, sustainable food production, sale, processing and consumption.
To that end, we have been working toward that vision in the following ways…
Oregon Rural Action has led the way in enhancing and developing local farmers markets throughout Northeastern Oregon, partnering with the Oregon Farmers Markets Association (OFMA) to support the expansion of the state’s burgeoning farmers’ markets and helping promote markets through our networks. Find information about local farmers markets in Northeast Oregon.
In order to build our local foods systems and better make the connection between farm and plate, we have compiled and published a Food and Farm Directory for Northeast Oregon. After many years this continues to be the go-to source of information for finding local food in our region. Search the directory online.
In 2010 Oregon Rural Action joined U.C. Fit Kids in launching the first Farm to School program in Eastern Oregon. The program made great strides in working to ensure that students in Union County have access to nutritious school meals that connect them with the agricultural economy of the area and support local foods and farmers. Read recent updates on the program.
Food Security and Community Gardens
ORA members are addressing food security in a number of ways. An annual Gleaning Day has helped mobilize volunteers to harvest fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste and donate them to local food banks. And the Blue Mountain Chapter and Snake River Chapter have community garden projects meant to assist in the healthy food needs of low-income people in our area as well as to promote greater homegrown prosperity with access to land, tools and gardening education.
Food and farm policy has also been an important component of our work. From working at the national level as part of a coalition of family farm and environmental groups urging that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) comply with the Federal Clean Air Act to the local level where members of the Blue Mountain Chapter have worked to amend the La Grande municipal code to allow a small number of chickens and rabbits to be kept in backyards within city limits. Read about our policy work.
Finally, some of our past work has included Oregon Rural Action members implementing a Food Literacy educational curriculum to be taught to La Grande 1st graders. Once a month, members of Oregon Rural Action volunteered to teach classes on where our food comes from and the various ways in which it is grown and produced. Members of Oregon Rural Action also passed a Local Foods Resolution at the Annual Meeting on October 4, 2008.