Local Foods of the Inland Northwest
Sandpoint Transition Initiative takes on local food
The power of local food is no longer a secret. Now that the good word is out,
there is only one thing left to do: produce and distribute enough food
locally to fill all these hungry mouths and root cellars)! There is no one
answer to this challenge; in fact, the beauty of small food production is
that the solutions in and of themselves must be as diverse and
individually nourishing as the food itself. We must support existing
producers by providing outlets for their products, tax cuts for their land,
and information networks for their use. We must foster the emergence of
new producers, and of businesses aiding in the processing of local goods.
We must preserve our regional farmlands before we lose them all to
development. All of these steps require participation of the people,
and endorsement from the government.
This month, we have the opportunity to create a tangible
canvas in which all of these seeds can begin to take root.
The newly formed Sandpoint Transition Initiative (STI) is an
international movement to optimistically and creatively prepare
communities for peak oil. One of its sub-groups, the Local Food Work
Group, is working with the city of Sandpoint to integrate some of these
sustainable ideals into the city’s infrastructure, and it appears that
the city is supportive. The group will come before the city council on March
18th with a proposal, sponsored by Mayor Gretchen Hellar and
Councilman John Reuter, requesting that a community garden be approved
within the city. THe proposed site is ”Dub’s Field” the city-owned park
next to Dub’s bordered by Highway 200 and Lake Street.
The garden would comprise 1/3 of an acre of the park, split into two
sections. One section would host garden rows available for rent by individuals in the community to grow
whatever they choose. The other portion of the
proposed space would be managed by community
members, and its produce would be available for consumption by
volunteers, or for donation to the food bank or local soup kitchens. This
space would be the site of regular volunteer-days, where anyone could
come for the afternoon to learn, work, and reap the benefits of community gardening. One idea is that
volunteers would be rewarded with coupons to local restaurants, who
would turn the coupons back in to the garden and receive fresh produce in exchange.
The proposed garden would be developed in collaboration with the
Ponderay Garden Center.
Last year, Sandpoint resident Jeff Burns spearheaded a volunteer-run
community garden next to the K-2 Inn, which proved to be a prolific and
widely celebrated addition to downtown. With that space in
jeopardy this year, Jeff and the Transition Initiative hope to expand
to a larger, more visible location to provide more hands-on education and
opportunities for the public.
In addition to the garden, the group is discussing with Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Director Kim Woodruff the possibility of managing the entirety of Dub’s Field chemical-free this
summer. The methods used would be trialed this summer as an experiment for a model that all Sandpoint city
parks could one day adopt.
With successful models across the country gaining national momentum,
the city council would be on track to the kind of sustainable growth the
STI believes necessary to thrive through current and future economic
For more information about community gardening or other
Transition Initiative projects in Sandpoint, visit their website, here.
Local Food of the Month: Carrots
Carrots stored in a root cellar, cool room, or even
unwashed in the fridge can still be bright and fresh this
month. Try this carrot soup one of the last of the cold
nights this month, from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
2 Tb butter
1 onion, diced
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 Tb parsley
1 tsp. paprika,
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
salt and pepper to taste
7 cups water or broth
In a soup pot, melt the butter
over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots,
bay leaf, and parsley; cook to soften the
onion, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Add the spices, salt, and pepper, and cook 5
minutes longer. Add liquid and bring to a
boil, then lower heat and simmer, partially
covered, 25 minutes.
Puree, season to taste, and serve hot.