Muncie, IN—With similar goals and missions, the Muncie Food Hub Partnership and Farmished have combined efforts to help local food systems succeed. Through elections held last week, Kate Elliott, Dr. Josh Gruver, Russell Kischuk, and Elaine Vidal were elected to the Farmished Board of Directors. The four bring a range of expertise and resources as they join existing board members Kelli Huth and Michael Wolfe.
Gruver, a Ball State professor of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, said the Muncie Food Hub Partnership team is eager to collaborate with Farmished to expand their shared focus on improving access to fresh, local food and goods.
“This combination will produce a greater output and broader services for the local food systems of our region,” said Gruver, who was instrumental in bringing the groups together. “Bringing stakeholders together to focus efforts on sustainably growing and distributing food products is continuing to gain momentum in Muncie and East Central Indiana.”
In addition to the elected board members, Muncie Food Hub Partnership brings a much larger group of engaged citizens who are passionate about our programs and services. They will dedicate their time and energy through several committees designed to support each service in the program, said Vidal, the food hub’s coordinator.
“We also have a robust new brand about to be unveiled around the program itself we are very excited to share in the coming weeks” Vidal said. “The combination of efforts around our local food system is to be applauded as the community bursts at the seams with existing and new non-profit organizations competing for local resources in order to carry out their missions.”
Russell Kischuk, CEO of FCA Management Inc., said he is grateful for the merger, knowing it will grow the local food system and increasing opportunities for both consumers and producers.
“Combining efforts, aligning resources, and working on a strategic plan that is financially sustainable for the organization are front of mind,” Kischuk said. “The value of this should not be underestimated in the community.”
The partnership comes on the heels of Farmished’s announcement of the Superfund Cleanup, an EPA-led remediation of the old Frank Foundry industrial brownfield site located on East 8th Street.
“Momentum is shifting and we are rallying behind and betting on our local food system to deliver real value for the community and the region,” Gruver said. “The best is yet to come.”
Dr. Joshua Gruver, the founder of the Muncie Food Hub Partnership is ideally positioned to launch this initiative. As assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management at Ball State University, Gruver’s research focus is in the human dimension of natural resources with an emphasis on stakeholder decision-making processes and social/cultural perspectives related to landscape change. He holds a dual-title Ph.D. from Penn State University in Forest Resources and the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. His work with local producers culminated in the development of the Muncie Food Hub Partnership and has informed the direction of the Mobile Market business model. Gruver will continue to act as the Muncie Food Hub Partnership’s liaison with Ball State, chairman of the board, and supervisor of the Food Hub Coordinator and mobile market staff and interns.
Elaine Vidal, Food Hub Coordinator, holds a Master of Arts in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from Ball State University, and is an accredited horticulturalist with the Indiana Nursery and Landscape Association. Her horticultural experience, project management skills, and service on the boards of the Living Lightly Fair and Muncie-Delaware Clean and Beautiful will enable her to tackle the community organizing needed to strengthen local food networks. Elaine will coordinate the efforts of students, faculty, and the board of directors toward strategic development, while running day-to-day operations of the market.
Russell Kischuk is CEO of FCA Management Inc, a diversified management firm with multiple local food businesses. He brings experience in federal compliance management, accounting, economics, and strategic planning. Under his management, the businesses of FCA Management Inc play an important role in the local food system and bring a multitude of resources to the table. His leadership skill developed through training in the Indiana Army National Guard, where he held the rank of sergeant, has proven to be very valuable to local food efforts.
Kate Elliott is a freelance writer, editor, and strategist driven to empower non-profits, individuals, and businesses to identify, strategize, and communicate core messages. She also writes for a range of magazines and universities throughout the nation. The Missouri native teaches writing, public relations, marketing courses within Ball State’s Department of Journalism. In the fall, she will guide journalism students through an immersive learning course to report on Muncie’s local food system. When she’s not chasing her two little kids around the park or blogging, Elliott is dedicating time to community-building as a member of Minnetrista’s Institutional Advancement Committee and the Oakhurst Museum Taskforce. She is also on the board of directors for ecoREHAB, a Muncie nonprofit that promotes and practices sustainable design, building, and outreach.
Kelli Huth is the Director of Immersive Learning Ball State University. She facilitates community-engaged teaching, research and service activities with faculty and students. One of her main responsibilities is connecting Indiana’s communities to campus resources. Through immersive learning, interdisciplinary teams of students collaborate with nonprofits, government entities, and businesses to address community and organizational challenges. Huth brings a unique background and perspective from spending four years working for the Cosanti Foundation and living at Arcosanti, an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability located just outside of Mayer, Arizona.
Michael Wolfe is the CTO for Ontario Systems. Originally from a small hobby farm in southern Johnson County, Michael has experimented with sustainable agriculture in recent years in the form of vermiculture, hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics. After becoming a big fan of Joel Salatin, Will Allen and others with their passion and love for restoring farming and farmland, Michael was able to participate in the Down to Earth seminar and interact with a whole new generation of college students that have a strong passion for the same. Forming Farmished was the next logical step to bring the community from where it is today to one with a thriving sustainable, local food economy.
The Muncie Food Hub Partnership (MFHP) seeks to nourish and strengthen our community through the robust exchange of fresh and affordable local food. MFHP manifests that investment in East Central Indiana food production through business development, education, and civic engagement. MFHP provides distribution, educational resources and business process advice to local food and value added producers. MFHP facilitates the exchange of food within the community and promotes economic development.
The specific objectives are:
• expand markets for local growers
• increase community-wide availability of fresh, affordable, local foods
• provide the next generation of students with critical training in food systems skills that will prove essential as Americans reframe ways we grow and eat food
• create jobs and the exchange of goods and services that improve economic development and prosperity in ECI
Muncie Food Hub Partnership on Wheels Mission Statement: to increase access to affordable local food by bringing a mobile farmers market to gathering places in Muncie. As part of the Muncie Food Hub Partnership, Muncie Food Hub Partnership on Wheels hopes to expand sales outlets for farmers, nourish our neighbors, and help grow an equitable and resilient local food system.
The Farmished mission is to provide charitable and educational services that promote a thriving local sustainable food system while increasing wellness and food literacy in the local community.
For more information, go to the Farmished website.
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