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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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, email@example.com, 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
Sherehe Kenyan Kitchen[caption id="attachment_2022" align="alignright" width="300"] Graduation day at Ventures.[/caption] Service Area: King County, Tacoma, and North to Everett Availability: I deliver Friday through Monday and prefer a week's notice Contact: 253 332 1615 or firstname.lastname@example.org Q: Tell us about your business? I cater home-style Kenyan food and drinks. You can't miss my signature Chai, brewed with fresh ginger, honey, and international award-winning Kenyan tea. My snacks include samosa a meat or vegetarian filled pastry, wrapped in mild tropical spices. All my meals are stewed in fresh natural fibers and herbs for flavors. I am the oldest of nine and developed my cooking experience and skills while helping my mother to cook for our large family. My siblings and family started expressing how good my food tasted and would always look forward to my next meal. I am a mother of one adult son and I noticed he too would comment positively about his mom’s cooking. He recently joined me here in the United States where he graduated from college and has been very helpful in supporting my business startup. Q: How did you get the idea for your business? While I was living in Kenya and working in an office in Nairobi Kenya’s capital city, I started volunteering at church as well as community events, then I moved to the United States and continued to volunteer at my church and certain community events, people in the community noticed that my food was tasty and encouraged me to cater small events for them, my church also put me in charge of food and beverage organizing during special occasions. The requests grew to where I have catered community weddings between 200-400 people. [caption id="attachment_2024" align="alignleft" width="225"] Lucy at her citizenship swearing in ceremony.[/caption] Q: What makes you different from other types of Kenyan restaurants? I am passionate about what I do, I care that people enjoy what I cook and I get great fulfillment from seeing them enjoy my food. I am creative and health focused. Working as a caregiver, I have the opportunity to feed healthy food to the seniors on my shift. They love and wait for my soups because they have not had any other employee treat them so special. I buy special containers for them so they can feel good about their food and they look forward to the days that I work. My employers are aware of this and I work hard to encourage my co-workers to pay special attention while feeding our seniors. Q: What do you like best about your work? The opportunity to share my ethnic food and social culture with other people, the chance to feed my clients special healthy meals and improve their health and quality of life. I enjoy interacting with others through food. Q: What is your biggest challenge and where have you found help? Time, I have a full-time job as a caregiver and it is not easy work either, I put so many hours of work in a week that I don’t have enough time to do my business tasks in time. Venture’s program “building business, changing lives” and also their coaching activities have been helpful. Startzone is currently helping me develop my business documentation, costing, pricing and invoicing. Q: What is something people might be surprised to learn about you? That I have a social life with close Christian friends and somehow, we find time to get together, pray and have fun singing Christian songs and supporting community events, and that am changing lives through food. Q: What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? I would highly recommend it, every immigrant interested in a food business ought to know about FIN, I would never have thought of growing my business without their help, I would still be cooking only for my familiar community. FIN staff has been so helpful in the process and I am gaining more confidence because of their encouragement.
MarakiMaraki, established in 2016, is an Ethiopian coffee and catering business. Business partners Fanaye Gebeyaw and Lidia Tadlla provide Ethiopian coffee and healthy snacks through the traditional ceremony that is perfect for social occasions. Service Area: Seattle and King County Availability: Call us anytime Contact: (206) 832-5979 Q: Tell us about your business We come to you and make Ethiopian traditional coffee. You will be able to see how a very tasty and original Abyssinica coffee is made, from roasting the fresh beans to brewing. You'll taste our coffee with a healthy snack in the comfort of your own home or at an event. Maraki began catering with the support of Food Innovation Network. In Ethiopia, the traditional way to drink coffee is around coffee stands that hold cups where friends and family members gather, chat, share ideas and have coffee. Maraki pairs traditional coffee with high-quality healthy snacks in the homely and relaxed atmosphere of a client's own space. We meld pure socialization with our traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. With high standards and reliable delivery schedules, we have been able to build and maintain a solid customer base within a short period of time in King County. As founders, we are both experienced in Ethiopian and western foods, give high priority to quality and healthy food. Q: What inspired you to start this business? We were inspired to take the influential culture from Ethiopia and do the same in our local atmosphere. The major inspiring factor for Maraki to start the business was the lack of culture we, as Ethiopians, noticed in the US. With this business, there will be more cultural festivities and an atmosphere just like Ethiopia. Q: What makes you different from other types of coffee businesses? Maraki provides unique service to its customers, we serve Ethiopian coffee with its traditional ceremony. The client watches as we roast the coffee bean which is directly imported from its origin, Ethiopia. Coffee catering is suitable to any social gathering- family, work or public. Our coffee ceremony highly facilitates social interaction. It creates a friendly and relaxed environment while enjoying our tasty coffee and healthy snack. Q: What do you like best about your work? We enjoy working with clients and like to see customers satisfied with our service. It's always a pleasure to socialize with people during the coffee ceremony and seeing them smile. Q: What is your business’ biggest challenge? Our biggest challenge so far is working capital. We would like to reach out many customers and participate in festivals but the working capital is a major challenge to meet that demand. Q: What is something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business? One interesting thing is that both owners are health professionals promoting healthy lifestyle and equity. When we initially established Maraki it was to introduce healthy Ethiopian food and coffee ceremony to the Western community. We believe we can create a healthy community through socialization and understanding each other’s culture. Q: What types of services or programs have been helpful? FIN services have been helpful for the success of Maraki as a catering service. The Network has supported us in accessing a commissary kitchen, creating a forum to network with potential customers, and facilitating us to get our business license and health permits.
Want to brighten up your next social event?
Call Lidia & Fanaye today!
[caption id="attachment_1834" align="alignright" width="300"] Yanzhi and her daughter, Manchun Yu[/caption]
Mian Dian NoodlesMian Dian is an authentic Chinese catering company run by Yanzhi Zhang and her daughter, Manchun Yu. Together, they make handmade food like they used to enjoy in China. Service Area: Within 20 Miles of Kent Availability: Delivery on Saturday and Sundays Contact: 425-524-2721
Q: What inspired you to start Mian Dian Noodles? When I first came to the US, I was surprised and delighted by how much Americans love Chinese food. But after a while, I discovered that most Chinese food sold here has been modified to suit an American palate. American Chinese food has been this way since the 1920s and is far from the kind of food I had back in China. So, I decided to make it my mission to provide Americans with an opportunity to experience real, authentic Chinese food, and provide Chinese people with the food they had back home. Q: What makes you different from other types of Chinese food? My daughter and I both grew up with authentic Chinese food handmade by our loved ones. Every part of our lives was embraced by our traditions and our food. We want to spread the blessing we've had to Americans. Q: What do you like best about your work and what is most challenging? Spending time with my daughter while planning the future of our business. Also being able to share the most important part of our culture with so many people through Chinese cuisine. My daughter and I both have day jobs, so it's very challenging for us to have time for a business. My daughter and I both have day jobs, so it's very challenging for us to have time for a business. My daughter and I have only been in the US for three years, though, and from difficulties with everyday activities to owning a business, we have come a long way. Q: What types of services or programs have been helpful? The project feast training I received two years ago has helped me out a lot in the process of creating my business. I learned a lot about the how to use a commercial kitchen, which I had no experience with before. Q: What would you say to other small food business owners thinking of working with FIN? If they have the opportunity to work with FIN, I highly encourage them to do so. FIN has provided us with all the resources that we needed along the way, they have helped me to make my dream come true.