Connecting, Strengthening and Scaling Food Supply Chains in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Region

A Message from the Center: Greetings from Oregon!

Greetings from Oregon! I’m glad to welcome you to this month’s NWRM RFBC newsletter, as the regional co-lead for the Center.  I’m writing to you from the mid-Willamette Valley, where we are enjoying a few more warm and dry days before heading back into wet and chilly. I can only imagine how busy farmers in our area are right now, as we slide into spring.

My regional co-lead job fits right into my work at Oregon State University, as the Director of OSU’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems and also as a statewide extension specialist in community food systems. For many years, my research and outreach activities have focused on local and regional scale supply chains – the processing, aggregation, distribution, and marketing part – and also public policy related to food systems.

So of course when I heard, in 2022, that USDA planned to set up new regional food business centers, I immediately reached out to Dawn Thilmany and Becca Jablonski at Colorado State University, asking if Oregon could be part of whatever they proposed.

Here we are, two years later, with an awesome regional partnership of agencies, universities, nonprofits, and businesses working together to strengthen farm and food business viability and expand markets and market access across our 6 state region. We have a lot of innovative people, ideas, and projects here in Oregon (check out one of my faves, the Oregon Food Hub Network), and it’s exciting to learn what’s happening in other states.

Finally, when I agreed to lead the design of our region’s Business Builder grants program, I knew it would be complex but didn’t know how it would take shape. After months of listening to partners and stakeholders, we’re close to finalizing a three-part approach that will be (1) specific to place, (2) integrated with training and technical assistance, and (3) be useful to the many different audiences and opportunities around our region. The opposite of one size fits all.

Take care and stay connected,

Lauren Gwin

Associate Director of OSU’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems

Associate Professor, Crop & Soil Science Department

Extension Community Food Systems Specialist

Scroll to Top