On Tuesday, October 30, FCS Professionals and guests gathered at The Good Acre in Falcon Heights. Our speaker for the evening was Emily Paul, Programs Director. Emily came to Minnesota via Washington DC where she was in charge of a soup kitchen that served 91,000 meals per year. The soup kitchen was atypical–she described it as “a restaurant where no one pays.” They focused on scratch cooking using fresh ingredients. Her husband hails from Duluth and when in Minnesota for a wedding she connected with the executive director of The Good Acre. His knowledge area was organic farming and needed someone with kitchen experience to run that side of the organization.
The Good Acre is a nonprofit organization founded by the Pohlad family. They desired to develop a program that connected local farmers to institutions (like schools and hospitals) and to increase access to healthy produce for all consumers. The Good Acre celebrated its third birthday the day of our program!
What do they do? They have a multi-faceted approach to delivering on their mission. For one, they are a food hub. They warehouse produce from local farmers and distribute to institutions. In essence, they collect and re-distribute produce. At this point they are not set up for raw animal products from local farms. They also house a shared commercial kitchen. This kitchen is used by twenty one local businesses that pay an hourly rate to rent and create food items for their food businesses. The kitchen is also used for cooking classes and culinary training.
The Good Acre is heavily involved in the Farm to School movement. Not only do they distribute locally grown produce to Twin Cities metro schools, but they also provide culinary training for school nutrition services staff and consulting on food service equipment. In many schools, scratch cooking has not occurred in years and kitchens are not set up for prepping and cooking the produce efficiently. The Good Acre also has created recipes and communications the school can use to promote their program and educate parents and families.
More recently, The Good Acre has partnered in a pilot program with Anoka-Hennepin school district’s FACS program to further the use of locally grown produce. The kids are eating the produce in the lunchroom and now can learn more about where it has come from and how to prepare it themselves in the FACS classroom. They have developed a lesson planning matrix that incorporated the frameworks of the state FCS standards.
After learning from Emily, participants went on a brief tour of the warehouse and the commercial kitchen. The evening concluded with dinner: BBQ pulled pork, mac and cheese, ginger glazed carrots, coleslaw, salad, and traditional apple pie. Throughout the evening members and guests participated in a mentoring game, getting to know one another and connecting.