The Local Growers Guild began in 2004 as a conversation among friends and farmers who share a vision for a healthy local foods economy. Two years later the Local Growers Guild (LGG) established itself as an agricultural cooperative. We’ve accomplished a great deal in the past few years, and our vision remains strong. We hope to inspire others to support local foods, wherever they live, cultivating the positive community connections that can preserve the ecology of both rural and urban small farm operations.
Highlights in the history of the LGG
- Early 2004: A group of individuals began meeting to brainstorm ways to promote local food. The group developed the concept of the Local Growers Guild, creating a vision for “Supporting, connecting and educating local growers, businesses, consumers, community, and the Earth.”
- 2005: The LGG developed a Buy Local campaign and a Winter Education Series, as well as several Garden Gathering farm projects. Bloomingfoods Market and Deli hosted a day-long workshop connecting growers with retailers, held in January 2005 at the Encore Café (now the site of the NWS Bloomingfoods). Bloomington Cooperative Services/Bloomingfoods also provided seed money to the LGG from equity received from the Blooming Prairie Foundation, dedicated by the BCS board to support local foods.
- January 2006: The LGG received enough support from individuals and local businesses to be awarded a matching grant from the Indiana Cooperative Development Center and, after nearly two years of organizing, drew up articles of incorporation to become an agricultural cooperative.
- April 2006: The LGG agreed to assume management of the Bloomington Winter Farmers Market (BWFM), founded with support from Slow Food Bloomington. Today, the Winter Market hosts dozens of vendors serving several hundred customers each Saturday at Harmony School, from December through March.
- July 2006: As part of the USDA Growing Healthy Communities grant in collaboration with Middle Way House, the LGG was awarded funds to develop an incubator kitchen and hire its first part-time Guild Manager, Maggie Sullivan. Jessica Williams was hired to work as the Winter Market Master.
- May 2007:The LGG published its first Local Growers Guide, a guide to local food in southern and central Indiana containing information about member farms, farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and businesses that sell, serve, and support local foods.
- March 2008: The LGG expanded its board of directors from seven to nine, to include retailer and community representatives. In March 2011, LGG founder and longtime Board Treasurer, Bobbi Boos, finished her third term, stepping off the board. Katie Zukof joined the staff as assistant director.
- May 2008: The LGG launched its enewsletter, supplying updates about local foods events, conferences and meetings. The enewsletter also includes a classifieds section for advertisments and announcements about farm equipment, labor needs, and other useful information. Today, our enewsletter is distributed to over 450 individuals, households, and groups.
- July 2008: The LGG received a $16,800 ISDA grant to study the feasibility of creating a centralized storage and distribution warehouse for locally grown food. The study was completed in August 2009 and the report can now be found at www.localgrowers.org/archive.html.
- November 2008: The LGG partnered with the Indiana Holistic Health Network (IHHN) to implement its first annual Harvest Dinner, in conjunction with the Simply Living Fair. Now a tradition in Bloomington, the Harvest Dinner is an annual fundraiser for the co-op. Held the past several years at the Upland Brewing Company Banquet Facility, the Harvest Dinner is a one-of-a-kind event featuring food prepared by five talented local chefs, using ingredients and beverages donated by growers and producers.
- Summer 2009: Former community board member Gina Wertz proposed and developed an Apprenticeship Program that would support grower members in developing the tools necessary to host apprentices on farms while offering a streamlined application system for those interested in apprenticing. The Apprenticeship Program continues to be a pilot project as we adjust to the needs of potential participants. The hands-on education of new generations of farmers and growers was identified as an important need within our region. Kim Kanney became the director of the LGG, with Katie Zukof as assistant director.
- October 2009: The LGG was awarded an ISDA Market Promotion and Distribution grant to support the Community Kitchen of Monroe County’s Backpack Buddies Program. Bi-weekly throughout 2010, LGG producers supplied locally grown and produced food along with educational newsletters to selected low-income elementary students participating in the program. Nine producers and two farmers’ markets contributed product to over 1,100 backpacks serving children and families in need. Jessie Skaggs became the assistant director of the LGG.
- Summer 2010: The LGG began meeting with farmers and leaders in the food and agriculture movement to develop the Indiana New Farm School, a forward-looking, collaborative model for regional food security. The Indiana New Farm School aims to build local food security by growing the skills of future generations of sustainable farmers through a three-year educational program.
- September 2010:marked LGG’s first year of a community-wide Going Local Week campaign in collaboration with Local First Indiana, Bloomington Independent Restaurant Association and www.goinglocal-info.com. Eight days of events supporting local farmers, restaurants, and businesses kicked off with an LGG gallery opening at Monroe County History Center and continued with restaurant dinner specials, film screenings, performance fundraisers, and the Going Local Challenge. The Local Growers Guild is recognized as a contributor to a healthier economy in our region.
- December 2010: For the first time, the Bloomington Winter Farmers’ Market kicked off its season in December, following the final November Saturday of the Bloomington Community Farmers Market. By extending the Winter Market season, the BWFM gives people in our region access to a nearly year-round direct market source of local foods.
- September 2011: Vanessa Caruso became guild manager of the LGG. The LGG started a bulk order program for amendments, cover crops, and chicken feed.
- 2012: Megan Hutchison became guild manager of the LGG.
- Summer 2012: The LGG piloted LGG on the Farm to promote LGG members and provide useful information on different farm topics.
- Fall 2012: Purdue-Extension and LGG collaborate on Farming Rountable discussions with growers and community members.
5 YEARS! Grower/Producer Members Beginning 5th Year of Membership:
Five Oaks Farm, Fullcircle Farm, Hart Farm, Harvest Moon Flower Farm, Hazelbrake Farm, Heartland Family Farm, Homestead Growers, Hunter’s Honey Farm, LIFE Certified Organic Farm, LIFE Certified Organic Farm, Linnea’s Greenhouse, Lost Pond Farm, Loveland Farms, Marble Hill Farm, Meadowlark Organic Farm, Melody Acres, Musgrave Orchard, Olde Lane Orchard, Schacht Farm, Seldom Seen Farm, Inc., The Chile Woman, Weber’s Sugar Camp, White Violet Center for Eco-Justice
3-5 YEARS! Community Individual Members for at least 3 Years:
Lucille Bertuccio, Cindy Bradley, Rick Dietz, Marcia Meyer, Linda Roos, Martha Sattinger, Brandi Smith, Amy Thompson, Meg Torrence, Victoria Wesseler, Jessica Williams
Retailer Members for at least 3 Years: Bloomingfoods, Bloomington Bagel Company, FARMbloomington, Laughing Planet, Lennie’s, Lost River Market & Deli, Nick’s, Oliver Winery, Roots on the Square, The Limestone Grille, Upland Brewing Company
Community Individuals: 93