Agricultural Connections Seeks Community Support to Increase Sustainability

Agricultural Connections has applied for a grant through Greener Fields Together — Cultivating Change. This local farm grant program aims to fund projects and pursuits that will help local farmers do what they’re best at: farming. Qualified growers and aggregators are able to win up to $30,000 annually through an online voting platform and peer review panel.

Agricultural Connections has been an aggregator/distributor of locally grown foods since January of 2010. We are the single entity in our Central Oregon region that works directly with local (Central Oregon) producers and regional (Willamette Valley) producers to bring fresh-harvested, organic and sustainable food to the commercial market year-round. Farm purchases from the immediate 50 mile radius region increased by over 40% from 2017 to 2018 with the total approaching $200K in 2018. Our farm-direct sourcing region spans beyond the immediate 50 mile radius to a larger 100-150 radius throughout Oregon.

There are two specific needs the business would like to solve with the help of grant funds: Adding a washing station to our new warehouse and incorporating re-useable plastic crates (RPCs) into our local distribution program. These two changes are critical to maintaining efficiencies into the 2019 season.

Agricultural Connections has been able to operate in the expanded space without the washing station during the winter season since the majority of product at this time of year from farm-direct sources is root/storage crops that generally do not require additional handling. However, once spring and summer of 2019 arrive, we will be lacking in efficiency without a warehouse washing station.

We aim to reduce reliance on non-recyclable/non-re-useable wax boxes. While wax boxes are grossly unsustainable from an environmental perspective, there are few container options in the industrial food system that maintain the quality of contents while solving the problem of move-ability/stackability and other activities that are critical to food distribution. The contradiction of this challenge is ever-present in the minds of Ag Connections and our farm partners. We believe that implementing an RPC program is the best solution to helping relieve the wasteful problem of wax boxes.

Supporters can vote once per day through the end of January 2019.

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About Agricultural Connections: Agricultural Connections (AC) delivers farm-fresh, LOCAL (Central Oregon) and REGIONAL (throughout Oregon) custom-harvested food year-round. They strive to supply Central Oregon homes, companies, restaurants, and grocery stores with the freshest, most authentically local, organically grown and high quality products year-round.

Agricultural Connections has recently moved into a 2500 square foot warehouse with expanded cold storage and office facilities to accommodate growing sales of Central Oregon and Oregon custom-harvested produce and proteins.

“This past summer we saw the highest volume of locally grown produce come through our warehouse in our nine year history,” said Elizabeth Weigand, Owner.  “We’re also thrilled to have more space for cold storage winter crops like carrots, beets, and potatoes.”

The new, larger warehouse provides excellent road access for easier drop-offs by the 20+ Central Oregon farmers and ranchers supplying local food to Agricultural Connections. The new facility also allows Agricultural Connections’ two trucks seamless loading for four times weekly deliveries to favorite Bend restaurants and markets including Jackson’s Corner, Dump City Dumplings, 900 Wall, The Root Cellar, Deschutes Brewery, Sunny Cafe, Lone Pine Coffee and Central Oregon Locavore!

The location on High Desert Lane, off of Empire Boulevard, places Agricultural Connections among Bend-grown businesses such as Monkless Brewing, Press Pros, Humm Kombucha, Empire Truck Works, Dealin’ in Signs, and more.

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