Building a Stronger Economy Through Food

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By Ashley Robinson


The Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Santa Fe College (SFC) and the Florida Farmers Market Association hosted a symposium in Gainesville highlighting food safety, entrepreneurship, business planning, marketing and more. The one-day event, “Growing a Stronger Economy Through Local Food Entrepreneurship,” took place Feb. 14 at the SFC campus and included growers and food entrepreneurs. 


The event offered speakers, trainings, workshops and roundtable discussions aimed at educating and providing resources to growers and small business owners who are looking to sell directly to consumers. Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to hear from local food and business experts and explore the SFC organic garden.

Gainesville’s newly established Food Coalition System (FCS) was highlighted in the morning session of the event during a roundtable discussion led by Karissa Raskin, civic collaboration specialist for the City of Gainesville, and Shelley Rogers of Little Bean Productions.

The FCS is a grassroots coalition of diverse stakeholders working to improve the local food system. Its mission is to improve accessibility, justice and sustainability of the local food system. “It was nice to hear growers’ feedback,” Raskin said. “By knowing what is going on, we can better use our collective capacity effectively.”

Concerns that growers addressed during the discussion included gaps in consumer education, market access and food regulations. Raskin and Rogers hope that through collaboration, different sectors of the food system will come together to improve economic development, policy and food accessibility within the community.

Other seminar highlights included food safety and regulation, business marketing, building a food safety plan, fueling entrepreneurship and edible mushroom cultivation.


The Gainesville educational event was one of a series of five symposiums taking place throughout the state of Florida. Three upcoming symposiums will take place in March in Tampa, Fort Pierce and Tallahassee. For more event details or to register for one of the upcoming symposiums, visit Registration is free.

To learn more about Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, visit

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