It's time for the second video in our FIN food business profile series! This week we are featuring Naija Buka: Chef Lilian makes delicious, authentic Nigerian cuisine. Try Naija Buka's popular jollof rice, as well as fried plantains, peppersoup, puff-puffs, and more. Check out their pop-up event at Project Feast's Ubuntu Street Café on March 9! Can't wait that long to get your fix? Visit Naija Buka's new website to see their menu and make your order. Then stay tuned for the next video in our business profile series.
We're excited to share the first of five videos profiling FIN Food Business Incubator participants! This week the spotlight is on Soozveen Mediterranean Catering. Sisters Sheelan and Zozan founded Soozveen because they wanted to share family recipes and stories. Try their dolmas, hummus, falafel, and other dishes made from scratch and flavored with the spices of Northern Iraq. And don't forget dessert -- their baklava and jasmine cookies are out of this world! Check out Soozveen’s menu, learn more about our Food Business Incubator, and stay tuned for videos featuring Sherehe Kenya Kitchen, Naija Buka, Mamá Tila Catering, and Taste of Congo coming out over the next four weeks!
As we closed Namaste Farm Stand’s second season with a celebration dinner, community members told us about their experiences at the stand. Hear what they had to say in our new video: Maria told us that easy access to fresh vegetables helped her control her diabetes. Clo said that her body was healing, and that she also felt better in mind and spirit. Melody shared that she’d lost 60 pounds in the five months since she started visiting the farm stand. She said she learned about nutrition from our partners at WSU Extension’s Food $ense, who provided cooking demonstrations at our Tukwila location. [caption id="attachment_2607" align="aligncenter" width="500"] WSU Extension's Food $ense team and FIN staff provided a total of 28 demos of how to turn farm stand produce into delicious meals and snacks. Bike blender smoothies facilitated by Anna from Food $ense were always popular items.[/caption] Maria, Clo, and Melody were among hundreds of community members who visited Namaste Farm Stand in Tukwila and SeaTac this season, which ran from early June until late October. We sold fruits, vegetables, and herbs from local producers including IRC New Roots’ Community Garden (Tukwila), Faith Beyond Farms (Enumclaw), and Collins Family Orchard (Selah) at affordable prices. [caption id="attachment_2609" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Community members who grow food at New Roots' Namaste Community Garden helped prepare our celebration dinner.[/caption] The farm stand launched in 2017 with 10 farm stand days at Matt Griffin YMCA in SeaTac. In 2018, we added a second location at Tukwila Village Plaza and extended the number of stand days to 39. In August, we were approved to accept SNAP/EBT, and began doubling customers’ EBT dollars through the Fresh Bucks program. Namaste Farm Stand is operated by Food Innovation Network and International Rescue Committee’s New Roots program with support from the City of Tukwila, Kona Kai, Communities of Opportunity, Les Dames d’ Escoffier, Matt Griffin YMCA, SHAG, and WSU Extension. Thanks to our partners, food producers, and customers for a fantastic season! We look forward to starting our third season in June of 2019. [caption id="attachment_2608" align="aligncenter" width="500"] We had a great time eating fresh produce with our wonderful community at our celebration dinner.[/caption]
Incubator program participant Ofelia Anorve brings authentic dishes from across Mexico to the Seattle area. Check out Mamá Tila's catering menu, and read on for our Q & A with Ofelia. Tell us about your business. My business specializes in traditional Mexican food. How did get the idea for your business? A lot of people would tell me that my food was really good, and I should have my own business. Also, there was a lack of traditional Mexican food in the Seattle area. What makes you different from other catering companies? I take my time when I cook my food, and I do it with love. What do you like best about your work? What I think is best about my work is seeing people enjoy my food. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? I think people would be surprised to learn that my food is authentic, fresh, delicious and healthy. What’s your business’ biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is that if my business is growing fast, I can be under stress since I am running it alone. What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? I would say that FIN is really helpful and you learn a lot. Contact Ofelia: (206) 265-9746 or email@example.com
We're excited to introduce you to incubator program participant Caroline Musitu! Her new business, Taste of Congo, has been a hit at farmers markets in Renton and Federal Way this summer. Visit her at a farmers market, check out Taste of Congo's catering menu, and read on for our Q & A with Caroline. Tell us about your business. My business is a catering food service. I cook African food -- Congolese food. I make samosas, rice with vegetables, goat, chicken, salad, French donuts called beignets, and more. What inspired you to start this business? I am from Congo, from Kinshasa, a beautiful city where people like to dance and to eat. There’s lots of parties and celebration. When I was young, my mom used to do catering for weddings, parties, and church; I used to help her make things. But when I came here, my Congolese community would just cook food on their own for events. I said, Why not start a business cooking for them? Special events like weddings happen once in your life, and you have to have food that wows! What makes you different from other catering companies? I have the only Congolese food business in the area! Once people try Congolese food, they’ll know it’s good. It’s very fresh and healthy, too. What do you like best about your work? When my food makes people happy. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? I’ve cooked since I was 10 years old. When people visited, I’d go to the kitchen and cook for them. My siblings don’t like to cook, but I love it. My mom showed me how to cook, but I like to invent new recipes; I don’t like to do the same thing, I want to keep it fresh and different. What’s your business’ biggest challenge? I’m learning how the market works, and how to present Congolese food to people who aren’t Congolese. What services or programs have been helpful? Ventures and FIN have helped with the business side: the formal lessons, marketing, calculation, prices. What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? FIN are good people to work with; they help us small businesses to get started, grow, and even become big businesses. Contact Caroline: 206.778.5615, firstname.lastname@example.org, Taste of Congo on Facebook
At the end of last year, we sent several advocates to the Community Food Systems Conference. Here's what they learned...
My general perception is that the conference central topics were farming and projects/programs related to farming. One of the workshops that I attended talked about doing partnerships with churches that have land to offer farming opportunities for low-income families. I am convinced that FIN has to be innovative in building new partnerships.
I noticed that most of the non-profits had white board members but serve immigrant and refugee communities. I like that FIN is inclusive and gives the opportunity to advocates to be part of the steering committee and being part of the voices that make decisions. However, we do need to have more visibility in the community. I think that seeing from others and learning from other organizations around will give us the opportunity to improve FIN work. I am proud about FIN diversity in the steering committee and community/partners - our mission and vision are led by the people that we serve. I like that we are listened to as FIN Advocates. The advocates are the most authentic members of FIN, they are the connection with the community and their needs.
-Jaqueline Garcia, FIN Advocate
At the end of last year, we sent several advocates to the Community Food Systems Conference. Here's what they learned...The conferences were informative. The conference was packed full of topics, like food, community and organizational involvement, healthy eating, nutrition, social justice, gardening, and farming. It promoted public markets and encouraged better use of SNAP benefits. I was particularly inspired by the food justice workshops that were lead by Native Americans. They focused on teaching children the importance of farming, gardening, land, nature, and spirit. There is a focus on where food comes from and they want children to understand and appreciate the idea of farming and gardening. My takeaway for FIN is the importance of working with children. We should invite or visit schools to promote healthy eating, farming, and gardening. I believe it’s important for children to know the source of food they eat every day. -Zozan Shamdeen, FIN Advocate
At the end of last year, we sent several advocates to the Community Food Systems Conference. Here's what they learned...I learned about movement-building in food systems: the case of Puerto Rico, how people have the ability to sustain themselves, besides early colonial context, production, focused on exportation. Most of their produce comes from outside of the island. They are building a network collectively with people who want to work the land and have little or none knowledge of farming. Children start to learn about farming since first grade through third grade, they are bringing agricultural back and they are applying to math and science concepts. They are trying to influence in Public policy, GMO and pesticide regulation. I also enjoyed Winona LaDuke talk. She mentioned that abundance is the nature of life and discussed how to make America great again in the food access context. We need to farm something to feed our soul. We are interested in feeding the next generation of our people, this is where we will restore the food system. More consumers are seeking farm-fresh food and more farmers,-especially small- and mid-size operations are profiting from these new markers. I learned that every year the USDA awards up to $5 million in grants to help schools connect with local producers and teach children where their food comes from.As a FIN member, I think we can look for partnerships in schools to provide farming support to the children. Favorite Quote: “A country that doesn’t produce what it eats is not free” Jesus Vazquez Thanks FIN for such a great learning experience! -Gladis Clemente, FIN Advocate