Marketplace readiness workshop series helps grow local food economy

Fledgling food entrepreneurs can receive startup assistance by participating in the “Marketplace Readiness” workshop series offered in Hood River on Aug. 12, 13 and 14 from 1-5 p.m. OSU Extension, Gorge Grown Food Network and Columbia Gorge Community College are collaboratively hosting the series.

The classes are designed to assist new food business entrepreneurs working to launch a local food product. Information about the agenda, registration and workshop costs can be found online at or by calling 541-490-6420.

Each workshop in the series will feature a different focus area. The Aug. 12 workshop will address getting your product to market with Sarah Masoni from the Food Innovation Center and Laura Barton from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Topics will include pricing, labeling requirements, food safety, wholesale markets, and marketing strategies.

The Aug. 13 workshop will review the rules and regulations that food businesses must navigate in Oregon and Washington; local and state agency representatives will be on hand to deliver information and to answer specific questions.

The Aug. 14 workshop, taught by marketing professionals and graphic designers with food branding experience, will focus on how to develop a strong food brand. Students will learn about logo design, branding, labels and packaging and have a chance to work on their own branding concepts.

Additionally, immediately preceding the marketing workshop, CGCC is hosting an information session about the commercial kitchen it operates as a resource for value-added producers. Students who complete all of the courses will earn a “marketplace readiness” certificate.

New food enterprises are sprouting up throughout the Gorge. Banking on the idea that local ingredients make good business sense, local entrepreneurs are bringing new cheeses, hard ciders, hot sauces, sauerkraut, sausages and more to the regional marketplace.

These producers are referred to as “value-added producers” because they are adding market value to food by altering it from its natural state (for example, you add value to cucumbers by turning them into pickles).

GGFN, OSU Extension, WSU Extension, CGCC and other regional partners are working together to support these new value-added businesses.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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