Local Events

Bloomingfoods Hosts Food Co-op Start-up Conference

Bloomingfoods is hosting a two-day intensive conference on February 19 and 20 to benefit those interested in starting food co-ops in their own communities. To be held at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center and the Courtyard by Marriott (with food catered by the co-op), the conference is a joint effort of the Indiana Cooperative Development Center and Bloomingfoods. Support also comes from the Howard Bowers Fund of the Cooperative Development Foundation in Washington, DC.

“My office receives many inquiries about food co-ops,” says Debbie Trocha, executive director of ICDC. “We are aware of nearly a dozen groups in our region who have an interest in starting a food co-op, but they lack the funds needed to hire those consultants who can help them map out a plan.”

Bloomingfoods General Manager George Huntington has often been called upon to offer advice to start-up co-ops. “We recognized the opportunity to bring some of the finest experts together, to share our collective wisdom and experience, and network in a more concentrated way,” says Huntington.

Presenters include experienced leaders from Cooperative Development Services and Food Co-op 500, as well as staff and board members from Lost River Community Co-op in Paoli, Indiana; Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in Carbondale, Illinois; and Bloomingfoods. Topics include financial planning, project management, marketing, and operations, considered from two angles: Laying the Foundation, and After the Paint Dries. Panels will consider the challenges involved in starting a food co-op, looking at successes, cases studies, and cautionary tales.  An evening meal at FARMBloomington is supported by Indy Fruit.

“We are able to offer partial scholarships to individuals and groups who may need them,” says Trocha. “We want anyone with a sincere interest in starting a food co-op to be able to attend.” Contact Debbie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 317-692-7707 to learn more, or register at www.ICDC.coop/start-up.

Food Films at the BCT

Fresh Movies at the BCT Offer Ingredients for Food Awareness

Bloomingfoods and Ryder Films will show Fresh, and Ingredients, on two Sunday evenings in July, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Fresh will be shown on July 11th and Ingredients on July 25th. Tickets are on sale at Bloomingfoods with special pricing available for members. The films feature interviews with food leaders who made visits to Bloomington during the past year as guests of the Food Studies program at Indiana University: Will Allen, Gary Paul Nabhan, Michael Pollan, and Joel Salatin.

ImageFresh: Described by food writer Marion Nestle as “a must-see for everyone who eats,” Fresh takes a look at innovative approaches to both urban and rural farming. It will show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater at 5pm and 7pm on Sunday, July 11. In the film director Ana Sofia Joanes turns her camera on Will Allen, founder of Growing Power, an urban gardening project in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Allen was the keynote speaker at the Food in Bloom conference held at IU in early June.

Fresh also shows Joel Salatin working on his family’s Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Once described as “the most worn-out, eroded, abused farm in the area near Staunton,” Polyface Farm is now an oasis for grass-fed animal husbandry and various agricultural practices that enhance and restore the environment.

Both farmers – one urban, the other rural – repair the soil, grow compost, and use their adaptive understanding of traditional farming to revive the land, build their communities, and inspire growers around the world.

Ingredients will be shown on Sunday, July 25, at 5pm and 7pm. Narrated by Bebe Neuwirth, the film travels across the U.S. from the diversified farms of the Hudson River and Willamette Valleys to the urban food deserts of Harlem and (finally) to the kitchens of celebrated chefs Alice Waters, Peter Hoffman and Greg Higgins. Ingredients reveals the people behind the movement to bring good food back to the table and health back to our communities.

Members of the Local Growers Guild will be on hand at the film screenings to give information about our organization. The mission of the Local Growers Guild is to create a local foods system in southern Indiana that provides quality food to communities through direct markets and retailers.


Reflecting on a Visit by Wendell Berry

“We’ve never known what we were doing because we’ve never known what we were undoing.” This comment was made by writer Wendell Berry in an evening of conversation with Wes Jackson, director of the Land Institute, moderated by Scott Russell Sanders. Bloomingtonians were given several opportunities to hear Mr. Berry speak in early November 2010, when he was here as a Patten Scholar at IU.

A picture of Wendell BerryAt this time, as we are realizing all too well what we have been and continue to “undo”, Mr. Berry’s voice of hope and commitment continues to be one of the most meaningful to hear. In his two public Patten lectures Mr. Berry read several stories he has written, illustrating the meaning of community and the tremendous changes that occurred in this country, not for the better, after World War II.

The two events I found the most engaging and insightful were his conversation with Wes Jackson and the brunch that he attended with about thirty-five people who are deeply involved in building and strengthening our local food economy.

Mr. Berry and Mr. Jackson have been close friends for several decades. Their friendship began when Wendell Berry wrote to Wes Jackson following the publication of Jackson’s first book. This began a friendship that has been based largely on extensive written correspondence and long phone conversations. Coming from similar childhoods on family farms, but different professional backgrounds (Mr. Berry as a writer and Mr. Jackson as a geneticist), both men have dedicated their lives to building an agricultural system that sees “the people, the land and the community as one.”  They have proposed a fifty-year Farm Bill that would sustain our need for food as humans, while respecting and nurturing all the other living things with which we share Earth.

A photo of Wes JacksonAt the public forum in November, they did not speak only about agriculture. Mr. Sanders asked both men to talk about work and what work has meant to them. Their responses seemed particularly appropriate for this time and for young people. They spoke of the sense of vocation in their work. They said that the purpose of work is to find satisfaction through doing something meaningful and being responsible to one’s community. While they certainly enjoyed being together, their obvious affection for each other was shown in a poignant exchange. After disagreeing with a comment Mr. Jackson made, Mr. Berry turned to him and said, “But, I've always liked you, Wes.” To which Mr. Jackson replied, “I love you, Wendell,” and Mr. Berry responded, “I love you too, Wes.”

On Friday morning, Mr. Berry joined the group working on the Indiana New Farm School and others working on other aspects of our local food economy, for a brunch and conversation.  Mr. Berry was very complimentary to the group working on the farm school, considering the proposal they have put together.  While expressing his approval of the document as a whole he said his favorite line was under the description of Year Two of the program: “This year can be repeated.” He went on to talk about the time it takes to acquire the knowledge of farming – a lifetime – and the pleasure that comes from being involved in work where one is always learning. He also spoke about the importance of the community of farming and bemoaned how some aspects of this community have been lost.  He remembered a time when “no one’s harvest was done until everyone’s was.”

In addition to being supportive and inspirational, Mr. Berry also responded to a number of very practical questions. He acknowledged the difficulties of making a living as a farmer and spoke of various resources and models that may offer some creative financing options. He also talked about some cities, including Louisville, which are doing a good job of bringing together disparate parts of the community to strengthen their local food economy. In much of what he said, he frequently returned to the importance of the community and the responsibility we all have to build our community. This was certainly an encouraging response for this gathering.

Bloomington is blessed to have the strong local food economy we have and to have so many of our citizens involved in so many different aspects of this. We also were so blessed to have Wendell Berry here – to have the opportunity to draw on his wisdom and inspiration for the work we continue to do.


Janice Lilly is currently on the Bloomingfoods/BCS Board of Directors.

Here's a link to Berry's essay "The Idea of a Local Economy"

Here is a link to a video featuring Wes Jackson: "The Next 50 Years on the American Land"

LGG Winter Gathering - Learn from Local Growers

Photo of Root Veggies with a Trowel

The Winter Guild Gathering on Saturday, January 22nd at Harmony School offers workshops with many local growers, on topics ranging from the most practical to the most ambitious and visionary. Come for the morning, the afternoon, or both, and continue the conversations on into the evening (beginning at 5:30 pm) at the Upland Brewing Company, 350 W. 11th St. The Winter Guild Gathering is a project of the Local Growers Guild.

9am to 5pm on Saturday, January 22nd 
Harmony School, 202 E. 2nd St., Bloomington, Indiana

TICKETS to the Winter Guild Gathering are available $10/$15 at the Local Growers Guild website. After January 15th the price increases to $15 for LGG members, $20 for non-members.

Tickets are also available at Bloomingfoods, the Bloomington Winter Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings at Harmony, and at the door on the day of the event.

Winter Guild Gathering Workshop Schedule:

Workshop Schedule:
9:00am - Unique Food Usage with Emily Winter and Joe Fulton
9:50am - Wildcrafting and Mushroom Identification with Marti Crouch
10:40am - Backyard Garden Planning with Kayte Young
11:30am - Community Orchard Update with Tarn Mower

Noon - Lunch

1pm - Designing Logos and Labels with Kaye Johnston
2pm - Water and Irrigation, Mark Stoll with Tracy Branam
3pm - Winter Growing with Pete Johnson
4pm - The Indiana New Farm School Update with Jeff Hartenfeld

Workshop Presenters:

Emily Winter - Urban Grower and Chef
Joe Fulton - Nutritionist and Local Food Enthusiast
Marti Crouch - Market Mushroom Inspector
Kayte Young - Mother Hubbard's Cupboard
Tarn Mower - Community Orchard Volunteer
Kaye Johnston - Kaye Lee Johnston Creative, Graphic design with food packing specialty
Mark Stoll - Gypsy Ridge Farm and Supply Company
Tracy Branam - Market Farmer and Geochemistry Research Scientist
Pete Johnson - Lost Pond Farm, Green house designer and grower for over 15 years
Jeff Hartenfeld - Hart Flower Farm, Farm School visionary

Parking: Please save the Harmony School lot for market shoppers between 9 and noon. Free parking is available on side streets and in the IU Atwater garage, just 2 blocks away.

Call for Entries: Trashion Refashion Show

Trashion Refashion LogoThe Trashion Refashion Show is looking for innovative designs made from 90% recycled materials.

The juried show has two categories:

Trashion is the result of creatively turning discarded items into fashion.

Refashion is the result of modifying existing clothing into something more fashionable.

Design submission deadline is February 1st, 2011. The runway fashion show will take place on March 26th, 2011, at the Bloomington Convention Center.

The Trashion Refashion show is a fundraiser for the Center for Sustainable Living, a non-profit community organization that promotes sustainable ways of living in the Bloomington community. For more information about the CSL visit www.simplycsl.org

For more information email: bloomingtontrashion [at] gmail.com