Media Digest June 15, 2018

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Paul Soglin will propose a $17 vehicle-registration fee to help close budget shortfalls and maintain community service programs for low-income residents. Chris Rickert, Wisconsin State Journal, 6/15. Community

The Dane County Immigration and Refugee Task Force, created last summer, announced its recommendations, including a call for a universal drivers' card.  Madison 365, 6/15. The James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church on Madison's eastside is renovating its building to serve as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

Troy Farm’s Plant Sale Returns to Madison on Saturday

Troy Community Farms will host their Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 12. Troy Farm is five-acre organic farm located within the City of Madison. Troy Farm is a program operated by Community GroundWorks, a nonprofit organization that brings local and organic food to Madison residents. The farm promotes sustainable food systems through its organic produce and education of the next farming generation. At the sale, Troy Farm will offer 20 types of plants and 75 varieties of vegetables and herbs to purchase.

Get a Taste of the Madison Public Market!

The Madison Public Market Foundation is hosting a spring Taste of the Madison Public Market event on April 21, 2018, which offers the opportunity to meet some of the vendors that will launch their businesses in the market. The event will feature free samples and larger portions for purchase from 20 local businesses participating in the multicultural MarketReady program, which provides training and micro-grants for new and existing small businesses interested in joining the Madison Public Market. The family-friendly event is free and will offer kids activities sponsored by Madison Public Library and a free award-winning cheese tasting sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, whose mission is to preserve the history of dairy farms across the state. The event will take place on Saturday, April 21 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Madison College downtown campus on 211 N.Carroll Street in the 2nd floor community room. Parking is available across the street in the City parking ramp.

Café Social connects Colombia and Madison

When he arrived in Madison in 1999, Omar López did not know English. He had never seen snow before. But he did know one thing definitively, he could not find a cup of coffee in Madison that would compare to what he knew in his native Colombia. López opened Café Social in August 2016 with his partner Douglas Swenson. Enter the shop, you are greeted by the sweet aroma of freshly brewed Colombian coffee. Almost every day, López, 50, prepares his coffee shop for the day, then mans the counter.

Wisconsin Cheeses Compete to be the Big Cheese of Willy Street Co-Op

The Willy Street Co-Op is hosting their Fourth Annual Cheese Challenge, where 32 local cheeses compete to be the official “Big Cheese.”
Putting an edible spin on March Madness, Willy Street Co-Op customers are asked to fill out brackets predicting the winners of each round. The individual who is closed to predicting the actual results will receive eight pounds of cheese, one pound from each of the “Edible Eight” finalists. Although brackets were due March 14th, Willy Street invites customers to come in every Thursday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. to sample cheeses and vote for their favorites. The contest continues until April 1st. The 2017 winner of the challenge was Extra Innings Triple Play from Hook’s Cheese Company, which is a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk that is aged over a year.

Competitive Year for 2018 SEED Grant Finalists

On Monday, the Madison Food Policy Council (MFPC) gathered at the Central Library to meet individually with the 2018 SEED Grant finalists. Each finalist was granted 15 minutes to present their projects on how to increase healthy food access or education for City of Madison residents. This year, the SEED Grant program received 23 applications requesting a total of over $180,000 in funding. The MPFC winnowed the list down to 13 finalists, but the grant can only allocate up to $50,000 in funding with a maximum of $10,000 for a single grant. George Reistad, food policy coordinator, says the funding is limited but there is no set amount in terms of how many organizations receive grant funding.

March 2018 Backyard Heroes

Community Shares, a partner of Madison Commons, recognizes two volunteers each month. The volunteers come from Community Shares' member groups and are selected for their service to the community and to community issues. Bill Herman, FairShare Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Coalition
Bill Herman volunteers at FairShare Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, to build strategic partnerships for Workplace CSA Programs. CSA is a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community’s farm, with growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. FairShare CSA Coalition has made CSA more accessible by linking people who care about the food they eat to local farmers who grow top-quality food for their local communities for over 20 years. Herman serves on the board of directors, develops key relationships and speaks at farm conferences.

Willy Street Co-op to Award $25,000 in Community Reinvestment Fund Grants

The Willy Street Co-op is currently accepting applications for grants from their Community Reinvestment Fund until Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m.
This year, $25,000 in grants will be distributed to a variety of projects focused on improving food access, sustainable agriculture, community well-being, equity and more. Recipients must be 501(c)3 or cooperative organizations working on projects benefiting Dane County that have not previously been funded by the grant. According to Brendon Smith, Communications Director for the Willy Street Co-op, the number of grants given, and the amount of each, varies depending on the projects mentioned in the applications. Last year, 14 organizations received a total of $35,000 in funding from the Community Reinvestment Fund.

Madison Food Policy Council Releases New Food Access Improvement Map

The Madison Food Policy Council approved a new version of the Food Access Improvement Map in January, which shows areas in the City of Madison affected by food insecurity. The map highlights geographic locations with high average distances, or barriers to food outlets. The data was gathered using qualitative assessment since census tracts do not accurately reflect neighborhood-level variations in Dane County. Food Policy Council members charted the map in the summer of 2015 to help the Madison Food Policy Councildistribute grant funds through the Healthy Retail Access Program. “Since that time, the map has been updated to its current form and the MFPC is beginning to use it in other grant funding programs, with expansion of use to the City of Madison SEED Grants,” Food Policy Coordinator George Reistad said.

Madison Food Policy Council Launches 2018 SEED Grants Application

Potential applicants from the Madison community gathered at Meadowridge Library last Wednesday for an information session discussing the 2018 SEED grant application. For the fifth year, the Madison Food Policy Council will distribute $50,000 in grant funds to support projects that increase healthy food access for City of Madison residents. Proposals from organizations, groups or agencies devoted to improving the local food system will be considered, and the maximum of any one grant will be limited to $10,000. “Over the past four years this grant has been funded, there have been 39 grants funded with $200,000 total,” Food Policy Coordinator George Reistad said. The information session was well-attended, garnering nearly a dozen potential applicants from organizations like Community Groundworks, Independent Living, Inc., East Madison Community Center and Slow Food UW.