This conference is now over. Wondering what's next? Here's a message from conference chair and Spokane City Council president Ben Stuckart:

Our economy is stagnant, and the best way to fix it is to localize it. Our region is on the northern edge of the largest wheat production area in the world, yet many people don’t know where their food comes from locally. The truth is that only about 2.4% of the food we're eating and buying is regionally produced, and we know that by 2020, we could increase that to 10%. We have a tremendous opportunity to improve Spokane’s food system, which is critical to our economy, health and sustainability.

Here are just a few facts from the conference that demonstrate the economic potential for growing our region’s food economy:

  1. There is over $750 million in revenue from food processing industry currently, with a huge potential for increase.
  2. There are over 1,400 jobs in food processing industry, with a huge potential for increase.
  3. Nearly 50% of Spokane's farms earn less than just $1000 annually and only 12% of Spokane farms make over $40,000
  4. annually.
  5. There are over 600,000 acres of farmland in Spokane, just 2,500 farms, with a potential for increase.
  6. Farmers' markets are growing, and contributed over a million dollars in sales in the community.

The Power of Our Regional Food Economy conference hosted 145 people and resulted in a Regional Food Economy Action Plan, to address the region’s potential for growing our food economy.

Next steps will be to create an urban farming ordinance, establish a regional food council, and sponsor a food systems study that will inform the food council. With this roadmap in place, and with the community’s support, we’ll reach our goal that 10% of food that is consumed locally will also be produced locally. We invite anyone to join this effort by registering on the web site www.realfoodspokane.org.

Please visit this site regularly to keep a pulse on progress and ways you can get involved.

Ben Stuckart
Chair, Food Conference Committee and Spokane City Council President


Here’s what a few people had to say about this year’s conference

"As a young person concerned about Spokane’s future, at the conference I learned that there are people in our local government that are behind us and there is a movement for change!" - Kate Burke, harvest coordinator, Second Harvest

"The biggest factor in the gap between what farmers earn and consumers pay is the money that’s made by the middle man – the people who process, package, transport, etc. the food.  So my conclusion was then that that’s where the biggest opportunity for local economic gain would be: creating all those businesses here to stop that money from leaking out of our local economy." - Susanne Croft, executive director, Sustainable Resources INW