Amber Lambke, President and CEO of Maine Grains, Inc., will be speaking at Food Tank’s fourth annual Washington, D.C. Summit, “Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders,” which will be held on February 28, 2018 in partnership George Washington University, World Resources Institute, the National Farmers Union, Future Farmers of America, and the National Young Farmers Coalition.
Lambke co-founded Maine Grains, Inc. to supply flour, oats, and other grains to specialty food stores, bakeries, and restaurants throughout the Northeast. In addition to her role as President and CEO, Lambke also serves as the founding Director of the Maine Grain Alliance, which the public’s education of heritage grains and founded the Kneading Conference, spawning similar events across the country.
Food Tank spoke with Amber to discuss her inspirations, goals, and her recommendations for those who want to get involved in local food systems.
Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
Amber Lambke (AL): My hometown, a former mill town, was dying, and a new generation of entrepreneurs and collaborators needed to start businesses that addressed our most pressing needs such as providing healthy, local food, community spaces, and infrastructure to make use of Maine’s abundant natural resources and capabilities – like GRAIN!
FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?
AL: Maine Grains has rebuilt the critical infrastructure for cleaning and processing grain grown by local farmers so that we can market stoneground flour and rolled oats to bakers, brewers, and chefs throughout the region. In so doing, we are reviving a rich heritage of growing grains on farms for feed, food, and balanced soils.
FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
AL: We must come to see whole foods that are grown organically, and supported locally, as the key to improving the health of our bodies, economies, and communities.
FT: What innovations in food and agriculture are you most excited about?
AL: I am most excited to use perennial crops as solutions to challenges affiliated with annual crops.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
AL: Shop your local farmer’s markets and strive to spend as much of your weekly food budget on local food.
FT: What is the best opportunity for young or aspiring farmers and entrepreneurs to get a foothold in America’s agricultural future?
AL: Become involved with Maine Organic Farmer and Gardener Association’s Farm Apprenticeship program. Also, connect with your regional Farmland Trust organizations.
FT: How can we best stimulate young people’s curiosity about food and agriculture and encourage their participation in building healthier food systems?
AL: Eat family meals, engage kids in the kitchen from an early age, and cook from scratch as much as possible!
The D.C. Food Tank Summit is SOLD OUT but tickets remain for our next two Summits. Register HERE for the Seattle Food Tank Summit, Growing Food Policy on March 17. Register HERE for the Boston Food Tank Summit, Exploring the Paradox of Hunger and Obesity on April 19. These events will sell out – register today!