How do we take localization to the next level? One important step it to be able to readily identify what really is local. Certainly another important part of the picture is tapping the power of a wider neighborliness, i.e., regionalization. Great as it is to have things being made in Ukiah, it is also true that many producers will never be able to make a living selling only to people in the Ukiah area.
Creating the linkage between what is really made in this area and a wider, regional market is the focus of North Bay Made, a recently launched initiative to help make our local economy as strong as it can be. North Bay Made works on several levels.
It starts with set of beautiful county-specific product brands created by Local Works in Santa Rosa. You can view the brands at the project’s homepage, which is http://www.northbaymade.org/.
North Bay Made is also working to create a network of brick and mortar retail locations throughout the North Bay that will all use this same shelf branding so that customers throughout the North Bay will have an easy way to identify products that are truly local to their region.
In Mendocino County the roll-out of the project is being coordinated by me, Scott Cratty of the Westside Renaissance Market, 1003 W. Clay Street in Ukiah (https://www.facebook.com/WRMUkiah) and Sarah Bodnar of the Eat Mendocino project https://www.facebook.com/eatmendocino and Social Media Sisters http://www.socialmediasisters.com/. You can already look for North Bay Made logos on the Westside Renaissance Market shelves. Other early adopters of the program in Mendocino are Harvest Markets in Fort Bragg and Mendocino, Mariposa Market in Willits and Surf Market in Gualala … in another month or so you should soon be able to look for the North Bay Made brands at those locations to find locally-made, local economy boosting everyday groceries, processed foods, as well as crafts and manufactured goods for everyday use and for the holiday season.
Stores that join the North Bay Made Program pay a fee to license the brand, part of which goes to promote North Bay Made products throughout the region and part of which stays in the county to create an incubation fund to support select local businesses. Following the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model found in agriculture, the incubation funds can be used to pre-buy goods, thereby furnishing a local business with the capital it needs to expand to a regional scale.
Eventually the brand will not only be on retail shelves, it will also be licensed for use on the packaging of select, top quality products – products that deserve to represent Mendocino throughout the region (and beyond). The first product slated for use of the Mendocino Made brand will be the (delicious) organic speckled bayo beans being produced at McFadden Farms in Potter Valley ( http://www.mcfaddenfarm.com/ ). After that, look for it on products from the Mendocino Grain Project (http://mendocinograin.net/ ) Those products will also benefit from access to the multi-county network of North Bay Made partner retail locations.
Do you know a retail store that should be in this network? Do you have a product that you think represents the best that Mendocino has to offer? Or are you just so darned excited about the program that you would like to become a sponsor to help us get the program fully launched? If any of these apply to you, contact Scott Cratty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 462-7377.