January 26, 2015 — Gloucester’s effort to develop a specific brand for the bounty of seafood yanked from local waters, as well as the means to promote food produced at local farms, is receiving a boost from the Obama administration.
The White House’s Rural Council chose Gloucester as one of 27 communities nationwide from about 350 municipal applicants to participate in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative designed to help transform locally harvested food into local economic development and healthier eating.
“It’s really a feather in our cap for us as a city to be recognized in this way,” Di Stefano said. “Farm-to-table is a very recognizable concept these days, and what we want to do is develop a similar concept along the lines of sea-to-table or dock-to-dish.”
As part of the initiative, city officials will work with experts in the areas of agriculture, transportation, environmental affairs, public health and regional economics to produce local food projects that could help regenerate the city’s ailing fishing industry while also promoting other regional sources of food and healthier eating.
The projects, according to Di Stefano, could include test kitchens, downtown food hubs, food business incubators and food security outreach programs.
Working with the experts will help the city and its food businesses more narrowly focus on the specific methods for expanding markets for locally grown and harvested foods, whether from land or sea, he said.
“They’ll be able to come in and advise us on what’s worked best in other parts of the country that we might be able to tailor to Gloucester,” Di Stefano said. “That way, we’ll be able to sort through all the options and focus our energies in particular areas that give us the best way to connect our resources to our residents. Who knows what this can lead to?”