September is the time of year we go BIG to encourage our community to support local food businesses, educate them on the importance of eating local, and celebrate the bounty that’s in our backyard! We take every opportunity to tell the story of the local food businesses through special events, media, and partnerships.
Participants reap the benefit of inclusion in our September Eat Local Month printed and digital guide. 45,000 print copies are distributed throughout Northwest Washington. View the 2018 September Eat Local Month guide here. In addition, participants receive extra PR, media, web and social media promotion.
Here is a snapshot of our current digital reach:
- Our Eat Local First Facebook page has over 2,400 followers
- Eat Local First Instagram has over 1,200 followers
- The Eat Local First newsletter goes out to over 3,000 subscribers
- The Sustainable Connections website recorded over 60k users in the past 12 months, with a 25% increase last year during September Eat Local Month
There are many ways for both members and non-members to participate:
“We always love doing the farm tour. We do it every year. And we often have family come to visit from out of town specifically to go on the farm tour because it is so much fun.”2018 Farm Tour Participant
“It was just great to learn about all the variety of local food available. Definitely gave me more appreciation for local producers. And more willing to pay higher prices for higher quality products!”2018 September Eat Local Month Participant
“The farm tour weekend was by far the highlight! We went both days and made it to almost all farms. I learned so much about how dairies and creameries work. It was fascinating. I also loved the flower farm. What a beautiful area! I felt closer to the community by learning more about our local options.”2018 Farm Tour Participant
“It was fun to see what dishes and local ingredients the participating restaurants came up with. I really hope they continue to let diners know when they use local ingredients, as that is often a deciding factor for me in choosing from the menu.”2018 Eat Local Month Participant
Be a stop on the Whatcom County Farm Tour – September 7 & 8
The Whatcom County Farm Tour has been going strong for over a decade! We’re always looking for local farms who want to throw open their barn doors and welcome the community to come see and explore what really goes into producing food in Whatcom County. It’s educational, meaningful, and FUN!
Always the second weekend in September, it’s a great opportunity to help the public connect with how their food is grown, caught, raised, and made. Join us in building the very relationships that lead to people knowing, and truly valuing our local food producers.
This two-day event will feature 10+ local farms who are passionate about engaging with the public. Hundreds of people will plan their weekend around exploring both new, and veteran farms this year — and you’ll meet customers old and new.
*This opportunity is open to members and non-members.
1. Attend Two REQUIRED Meetings:
- The first meeting will be set in July with a Sustainable Connections staff member to review your farm logistics and education plan. You will receive an email after being confirmed to set a day & time.
- Volunteer orientation on Tuesday, September 3 from 6-7pm. This meeting is crucial to your preparedness and success. You will pick up your tour day materials and get oriented to the materials and informed of day-of logistics.
2. Create a VIP Farm Tour Offer:
We offer a VIP Farm Tour experience to people who make a donation to the Farm Tour Fund. It encourages tour goers to fully participate, and create even more draw to each stop. We ask that you create an exclusive Farm Tour VIP offer for the day of your tour. In the past folks have had awesome giveaways: Ferndale Farmstead gave away insulated lunch bags with full sized cheese logs; Boxx Berry offered free berry sundaes; Ten Fold Farm gave away free tote bags. Other suggestions include: coupons for a percent off of their purchase that day at the farm, 2 for 1 deals, or, if you purchase “this item” you’ll receive “this”. Please note – you have full discretion and autonomy as to how many offers you give out. We can include language such as ‘while supplies last’ or ‘for the first 100 visitors’ to make sure you are not overextended.
3. Education and activities:
We ask that you do something beyond your normal farm operations to teach the public about local agriculture. Activities can be just for fun, but we ask that you offer at least one opportunity for education. Sustainable Connections staff can help you plan this.
4. Toward Zero Waste:
Like all Sustainable Connections events, the Whatcom County Farm Tour is Zero Waste. This means we will work with Sanitary Services Company (SSC) to offer Food Plus and recycling services on your farm for the day. ALL disposable materials must be compostable (paper or corn based cups or utensils) or recyclable. No Styrofoam.
5. Restroom Facilities:
You must have a public restroom or rent a portable toilet for the day.
The fee for participation in the Whatcom County Farm Tour is $85 for Sustainable Connections members, and $185 for non-members. Membership starts at $190, so this is a great time to become a member if you haven’t already! Fees are used to cover a small fraction of the costs of staff planning time, promotion, and printed materials for the tour. (Fees will not be collected until we have reviewed all applicants and finalized participants.)
7. Certificate of Liability:
We will need a copy with Sustainable Connections named as an Additional Insured on a minimum $500,000 liability policy (this should be quick, easy and affordable by contacting your insurance company). We need this certificate in hand ASAP after your farm is confirmed as a stop.
You will need to have adequate staffing to accommodate several hundred people on the day of your tour. We may be able to provide one greeting volunteer for the day, but having staff on site to answer questions, direct parking, guide activities and conduct sales is your responsibility.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that pathogens don’t get transferred between humans, animals, or crops. We encourage you to have a hand wash station, or at least have sanitizer available. You may also consider having a place to sanitize shoe soles.
Farms can anticipate an average range of 200-500 visitors per day of the farm tour, and should be able to accommodate 40-50 parking spots at any given point in the day (9AM-4PM). Also consider this as you appropriate your staffing needs, whether or not your location will need a parking attendant/guide.
If you’d like to participate, fill out the Eat Local Month Participant Application before May 17th. Spots fill up quick!
Be a Featured Restaurant during September Eat Local Month by:
- Creating a local food special
- Labeling local food items
- Donating a prize
In addition to being heavily promoted on our website and social media channels, featured restaurants will be listed in 45,000 copies of the Eat Local Month guide and listed on our website event pages for the entire month of September.
*This opportunity is only open to Sustainable Connections members. Join or renew today!
1. Eat Local Month Specials
Participating restaurants need to feature:
One special Eat Local Month Appetizer, composed of 50% or more locally* sourced ingredients at an $8.00 price point
One special Eat Local Month plate, composed of 50% or more locally* sourced ingredients at a $14.00 price point.
*We define local as food grown, caught, harvested, or made in Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan and Island counties.
A huge portion of the success of Eat Local Month is directly tied to our local Producers and Buyers actively promoting one another. We know that farms are proud to be featured in local restaurants, and local restaurants are proud to be able to tell their local food seeking customers exactly where the kale in their salad came from, or that the cheese on their pizza was crafted within a 20 mile radius! We need our participants to be committed to telling the story of their local sourcing in the following ways:
- Commit to having something on each table for the month of September that tells the consumer where we sourced the local ingredients in our Eat Local Month specials. This can be on your menu and/or a table tent.
- Commit to making sure all of my Front of House staff are aware of the Eat Local Month Specials, and will be able to tell customers the farms we are featuring to create them (i.e. “We have two Eat Local Month Specials going! A caprese salad with basil and tomatoes from Twin Cedars Farm, and Mozzarella from Ferndale Farmstead…” etc.
- Commit to using our social media channels to co-promote our featured farms, and Eat Local Month at least once a week for the month of September. (i.e. one post a week to Instagram/ facebook to tell consumers about your locally sourced menu items, and/or highlights about why you source from the farms that you do “Look at these bright tomatoes delivered to us fresh from Rabbit Fields Farm just this morning – these beauties will be featured in our #EatLocalMonth Special – caprese salad for just $8!”)
Please know that the Food & Farming team will be generously supporting you in the months prior to, as well as during the entire month of September. We will provide plug & play content and examples for you so that you don’t have to spend time creating content if you don’t want to! Most businesses report a huge sense of value and connection when they make the effort to co-promote each other – It’s pretty Special! (Click here to see some examples from previous Eat Local Month promotion successes)
3. Set up a time for us to come in and brief your staff
Commit to scheduling a meeting with a Food & Farming team member in August to brief my staff on the purpose and play-by-play for Eat Local Month! We’ll pop in for a short and sweet 15 min meeting with your staff at the end of August to give them the Eat Local Month rundown! You’d be surprised how far this brief interaction goes to boost your team’s pride and ownership when they feel connected to the story of our local farmers – it truly adds more meaning to their work, and adds value for your customers!
If you’d like to participate, fill out the Eat Local Month Participant Application before May 15th. Spots fill up quick!
Be a Collaborative Partner
We’d love to spread the word about any food or farming events you may be having in the month of September! The sky is the limit, here!
EDUCATION We love opportunities to intentionally share a learning space with our community. Are you a Wellness Director? HR Manager? Community Activity Coordinator of any kind? Hit us up, and we’ll come to you with a brief, engaging presentation on what it means to Eat Local First, and why it is important for our community!
COMMUNITY Do you have an annual event on your farm that you want others to know about? Have an awesome foodie event planned already? Let us know what you’ve got in the works now so we can start planning and find creative ways to promote!
ART We’re looking for opportunities to tie in our arts community this year! We’re thinking poetry, music, creating of any kind – we’d love to highlight the beauty that lies in the fields, farms, and foods we all enjoy.
Can’t host an event, but still want to help spread the word? We’d love to supply you with posters and Eat Local Month guides to have at your business! Let us know we can drop some by!
*This opportunity for collaboration is open to members and non-members.