When most of us look at a cheese stick, we simply think of a kid's snack. However, for Chris Noble, a cheese stick tells a very different story about harnessing the power of partnerships and creativity to create a sustainable new product line.
Chris' cheese story starts with the cows at his multi-generational family business, Noblehurst Farms, in Livingston County, New York. The cows are fed by grain grown on their land. The milk from those cows, and 7 other family-owned farms Noblehurst has partnered with, is then processed in their Creamery, which is powered by an anaerobic digester with the waste from those very cows, to create Craigs Creamery Cheese.
Clearly seeing the powerful impact of that collective effort, Chris accepted an invitation in 2020 to join the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for Food Future WNY, a 9-county planning effort to strengthen the region's food system to achieve resilience, equity, strong economic performance, and reduced food insecurity. Chris saw this as an opportunity to connect with other leaders in the food system with different life experiences.
"By bringing together different players with different perspectives, we are seeing things differently and our work is blazing new trails. For me, I was able to make important connections with fellow council members such as Alex Wright in Buffalo and Chris Hartman at Headwater in Rochester. I've learned so much about diversity and equity by having producers, buyers, and users of products in the same room for discussions," said Chris.
Chris admits that as a farmer, you can tend to be insular and being a part of the RAC and the Working Group really broadened his horizons.
"I really hope that some of the ideas and solutions we are coming up with are funded and blossom. We must drive this effort forward in a way that's smart, cost-effective and sustainable for our region's food future," said Chris.
This storytelling project was made possible through funding from the WNY Foundation