SHERIDAN — While consumption of local foods is quickly becoming a norm in Wyoming, there are still plenty of topics to be addressed in order to sustain its prosperity.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, local food producers, consumers, merchants and other local food stakeholders will participate in a panel titled “Eating, Growing and Selling.” The panel members will discuss how people can help to create a statewide sustainable food economy in Wyoming.
The panel discussion will wrap up the Sheridan Local Food Expo and Gala events that have taken place throughout the week. The panel itself will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 8 at the Sheridan College atrium.
Panelists include Frank Wallis with EZ Rocking Ranch in Recluse; local food producer at Shiloh Valley Family Farms Theresa Shaw; Kentz Willis with the University of Wyoming Department of Agriculture; Paul Sackett with Sackett’s Market; Megan Taylor with the Powder River Basin Resource Council; Donald Legerski with Landon’s Greenhouse; and Ami Erickson with Sheridan College’s horticulture and life sciences department.
Erickson organized the panel and selected the panelists.
“I was looking for some marketers, growers and merchants,” Erickson said. “I was looking for people who were active in the local foods community.”
The ultimate goal of the panel, according to Erickson, is to discuss the challenges and opportunities local producers and consumers have concerning local foods. The panel will consist of questions for all of the panelists followed by a discussion and a question and answer period for audience members.
One of the topics that panelists plan to discuss is House Bill 56, commonly referred to as the Food Freedom Act.
The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead in 2015, made it possible for local producers to be free of most regulations for certain foods and products.
“Wyoming was really the first to jump into this,” Erickson said about the Food Freedom Act. “It really had a great impact on locally-produced foods.”
Also attending as one of the panelist will be state Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance. He was author of the bill and said he continues to be a local foods advocate on the floor of the Wyoming House of Representatives.
“I’ve gotten to be pretty knowledgeable on the subject mainly just through research,” Lindholm said. “I am really honored to be thought of to participate on this panel.”
Lindholm said that he hopes to address options for local food producers and consumers while discussing some of the issues that may be brought up at the federal level.
“A lot of the feds don’t like what we are doing up here,” Lindholm said in regards to the Food Freedom Act. “So, I think we could address that.”
“These panels can really shape our movement,” he added.
This is the first time that a panel addressing this subject has taken place. Previously, the panel at the Local Foods Expo and Gala has consisted of brewers discussing craft beers.
“I think that food freedom will be a great topic for us to discuss,” Erickson said.