She isn’t mentioned in our front page story, but everybody in favor of buying local, eating healthy foods, and doing something in the best interests of children, owes a big debt of gratitude to Karen Kleinkopf.
It was Kleinkopf’s vision that helped form and launch Focus on Agriculture in Maine Schools.
It was her drive that helped FARMS become the organization it is today with a paid executive director and a place to call home above the Rising Tide Community Market in Damariscotta.
Kleinkopf started with the idea that it would be better for the children if we could get fresh, local food served in school lunches.
What that meant was Kleinkopf loaded up her car and went around to AOS 93 schools doing cooking demonstrations, all in the effort to convince kids that things like rutabaga French fries could actually taste good.
Along with Amy Winston in the earliest days, Kleinkopf did the legwork, making the pitches to local school boards and local farmers and establishing the connections between the two.
The challenges were daunting and only began with the budgets. You literally cannot go wrong supporting a locally-owned business, however it is also true the same economy of scale that allows Walmart to deliver a pair of pants to consumers for $8, works against your local small business person.
The forces of the marketplace will always be a factor, but now that FARMS has a home, the organization’s mission is solidified and the stage is set for FARMS to follow the track blazed by local organizations such as the Damariscotta River Association, the Medomak Valley Land Trust, and others; even the now-defunct Citizens Offering New Alternatives, or CONA.
All are organizations that continue enriching the lives of the residents of this area for years even after their founders have handed off the baton.
What started as a nice idea is now an ongoing effort and with FARMS formally opening the doors to their Community Kitchen this month the organization has turned a corner.
All of these entrepreneurial start-ups began with an idea, a simple logical idea. The fact that FARMS is where is it is today, is proof that a good idea and a lot of hard work can go a long way toward improving the community we share.