Media Release

Earth Day Countdown - Florida Food Summit

Friday, April 9, 2010 11:30 AM

14 Days until Earth Day.

Driven by the County Commission's Guiding Vision, everyday is Earth Day in Alachua County.  In April, each day leading up to Earth Day (April 22), the County will be highlighting programs, services, and strategies designed to lead Alachua County into a more sustainable future.

To view all "Earth Day Countdown" press releases on the County's Facebook page, click here and click on the Earth Day tab at the top of the page.

ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County is partnering with the University of Florida (UF) Office of Sustainability, Darden Restaurants, Aramark Higher Education and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to host the "Florida Food Summit," April 12 - 13, 2010. The Food Summit, which is at UF, will facilitate networking, dialogue, and visioning among members of the Florida food system, and help develop the connections needed for robust farm-to-institution programs.

As a state-wide gathering of industry leaders, government agencies, and consumers, it is the first summit of its kind.  "We hope these discussions help promote economic development in regional food systems and healthy food choices." said Sean McLendon, Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager.  

Support of this event ties into Alachua County's efforts to promote food security, especially for the impoverished and malnourished in our County.  This event will be followed by the upcoming Fall 2010 Hunger Summit, an Alachua County Commission priority in addressing the Hunger Abatement Plan (click here to view).

Florida has long history of being an export market for agricultural goods.  However, there is also substantial public interest in organic, locally grown and value added food stuffs.  Based on this McLendon said that, "local food represents a remarkable growth industry creating new jobs that will also preserve the County's agricultural heritage."

The County Commission has promoted local food production and entrepreneurship with their support of the Citizens COOP (click here to visit website), and Blue Oven Kitchens incubator programs (click here to visit website).  Click here to view interviews with these organizations from the County's half hour television interview show, "Alachua County Talks."

A full schedule of the Florida Food Summit events, with information on time and location, is available on the University of Florida Office of Sustainability's official Web site (Click here to visit website).

Florida Food Summit events include:

  • Food on the Lawn, Fair and Farmers Market - April 12th, 11a.m. - 3 the Plaza of the Americas
    • This is the first ever farmers market on UF campus. Local produce will be sold and information tables from local and state food organizations will be available.  The goal of this event is to raise awareness of social, economic, and environmental food issues and to educate the public on ways they can implement sustainable food practices in their daily lives.
  • "Can Food be Local Healthy and Fair?" Keynote by Michael Dimock - April 12th, 8 p.m. - 9:30 p.m., at the Reitz Union Rion Ballroom
    • Michael Dimock is Executive Director of the "Roots of Change Fund."  Since the early 1990s, he has been helping communities, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), and businesses to build consensus and implement plans related to agricultural policy and marketing, resource stewardship, and sustainability.
  • "Florida Cowboys: Reflections on the Past and Visions for the Future" Keynote by Robert Stone and Carlton Ward Jr. - April 13th, 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m., at the Reitz Union Rion Ballroom
    • Robert L. Stone is a folklorist based in Gainesville. He worked for more than two years documenting and researching Florida�s cattle ranching culture and co-curating the 2,400 square-foot, multi-media exhibit, Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition.
    • Carlton Ward Jr. is an environmental photojournalist from Clearwater, Florida, with graduate training in ecology and anthropology. Through his photographs, he aims to promote conservation of natural environments and cultural legacies. Carlton seeks pictures that capture the essence of subjects in a way that will engage readers and help carry the science-based messages to broader audiences.

For more information, contact Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager, Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.

40 Days of Change - For more information concerning events on and leading up to Earth Day, go to the University of Florida, Office of Sustainability's "40 Days of Change" website by clicking here.



If you have a disability and need an accommodation in order to participate in a County program, service or public meeting, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 at least 2 business days prior to the event. TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).