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Phoenix Project aims to put local foods in mainstream markets

MILAN -- The potential to grow the local foods economy in the region from a niche-oriented enterprise to one serving the mainstream is not lost on Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel of Milan.

MILAN -- The potential to grow the local foods economy in the region from a niche-oriented enterprise to one serving the mainstream is not lost on Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel of Milan.

They operate a community supported agriculture venture based on their low-cost greenhouse that produces fresh greens for area families during the winter months. Garden Goddess Enterprises has won national attention as a potential model for local foods production.

They also authored the book, "The Northlands Winter Greenhouse Manual'' for those looking to duplicate their local foods venture.

Waibel said they realize there is a need for an entity to aggregate local foods production in the region to serve institutions and mainstream markets.

They have proposed the Phoenix Network as a community-based venture for that goal.

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Their goal is to develop a working food production facility in Milan that would be geared to research, development and education. The food handling aspects of the business would focus on an approximate, 50-mile radius of Milan.

They announced their proposal when Sarah Goodspeed reported on the results of her survey of west central institutions to local foods producers in Milan earlier this summer.

Waibel said the response to their proposals to launch the Network, and to create a means to aggregate and market local foods production has not exactly caught fire. People don't seem quite ready for the idea yet, said Waibel, who indicated they will continue to promote it.

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