Joel Williamson, Co-founder/LINC Foods
July 2, 2016
The inspiration for Joel’s work came from his family roots. In 1917 his great grandfather started Jacobson Greenhouses on the prairie outside of Spokane. Joel was raised on the property, and has memories of accompanying his father – who was also a farmer – on field trips to other farms and various ag related educational programs. The family had a thriving cut flower business until a series of circumstances including the advent of big chain stores and NAFTA, forced them to shut down.
Years later Joel got involved with a progressive theater that addressed social issues. It was through that experience that led him to gain insights about his family history and spurned his interest in organizing. Through a chance encounter with his now colleague Beth Robinette, Joel learned of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute MBA in Sustainability Program. It was there that they explored how they could improve the plight of small farms regionally, ultimately leading them to form LINC Foods.
What is LINC and how does it support our region’s food system?
LINC is a farmer-owned cooperative that allows small farmers to connect to larger institutional partners. In addition to helping to tell their stories, LINC assists farmers with marketing, and raising awareness about the value of their products. Connecting small farms to larger institutions saves farmers time and money while providing eaters with fresh, local food.
The decision to form the business as a cooperative is important because it empowers the farmer members to make decisions on their own behalf. They are committed to using safe, environmentally sustainable growing methods and follow food safety protocols to ensure the best quality food for all.
What is Palouse Pint?
Palouse Pint is a small craft malting project of LINC Foods. Joel, an avid home-brewer, had the idea to launch the business to support the local grain grower coop members and the craft brewers. Malting heritage grains and barley varieties that are less commonly used in craft brewing creates unique flavors that are highly sought after by the burgeoning craft brewing industry. Through the initiative Joel hopes to support the biodiversity of grains while also providing an outlet for farmers to market their product.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Trying to rebuild what the infrastructure, delivery systems, etc. that previously existed to support small farms. The need for these systems is extensive, complex, and costly with relatively little public awareness about the need for any of it.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Working with the farmers and the chance to do good, meaningful work that contributes to the betterment of society.
What do you envision for the future of our local food system?
To see the growth and development of other organizations like LINC working to rebuild the infrastructure and support systems that small farms need while also changing the current economic paradigm so that farmers can thrive.
For more info visit: http://www.lincfoods.com/