Member Updates

Update for Sep 20, 2022 - White House Conference September 28

The North Dakota Public Health Association (NDPHA) Nutrition Section and the North Dakota Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (NDAND) are excited to offer a joint watch party during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health (WHC) on Wednesday, September 28th. The WHC is being streamed online live, and the watch party is being offered through access to a Zoom “room” (connection). You may need up to 2 devices to take part in both at the same time. The Zoom Room will be open all day during the hours of the WHC; you can use the Chat Box function to comment or share ideas and impressions. You may want to drop in during the scheduled hours of break in the WHC agenda, which is from 11:00 a.m - 12:30 p.m.CT for a more interactive discussion.

It’s been more than 50 years since the first and only White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health was held in 1969. That pivotal event helped galvanize actions that included the creation of life changing programs like school lunches, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and changes to how we label foods.

The 2022 White House Conference will catalyze the public and private sectors around a coordinated strategy to accelerate progress and drive transformative change in the U.S. to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and close the disparities surrounding them. Please visit the Conference website to register to retrieve your live stream link, view the agenda, and learn more the WHC background and details.

The NDPHA, NDAND, and other like-minded organizations and their members are invited to our interactive Zoom watch party, which we will run simultaneously with the Conference live stream. The Zoom meeting room will be open all day (8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST), and we encourage participation even if you are unable to join for the entirety of the event. According to the draft agenda, there will be a long break from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. CST, and we anticipate a time for discussion for those joining the Zoom event, plus the opportunity to share comments and links in the “chat box” throughout the day. 

Please see below for additional Zoom meeting details:

We look forward to seeing you on the 28th!

Topic: White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health - Watch Party
Time: Sep 28, 2022 08:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

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Passcode: 54321
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Update for Aug 16, 2022

The Northern Plains RC&D Council has initiated an effort to promote more local foods in Park River.  There are a few things they will be considering to begin in 2023.  We also have a couple of local food projects that are requesting assistance.  We are trying to arrange mutual times to get together and get that started.  Once we get through both local food and farm harvest season, more work will be undertaken!

Update for Jul 19, 2022

White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health will take place in September, 2022, and seeking organizations across the U.S. to take action
The conference will be streamed, and so actions could range from holding a watch party, a follow-up discussion, and/or a Day of Action to address hunger, food insecurity, and diet-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.


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Learn about Warehouses4Good at the Rural Developers Assemply on August 10 in Mandan

Hosted by RE&T

Rural Electric Telecommunications Development Center

Rural Developers Assembly
A gathering of rural people interested in new concepts to strengthen our rural communities

When: August 10, 10 am - 12 pm CDT

Where: NDAREC Headquarters, 3201 Nygren Dr. NW, Mandan, ND

Featuring: John Kane, founder of Warehouses4Good, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Texas that develops nonprofit warehousing systems to improve access to goods in hard-to-serve places (such as sparsely populated states like North Dakota.)

Why should we care about warehousing?

Rural retailers pay a premium for wholesale products due to their low sales volume, making it more difficult to compete with urban and online retailers. A warehousing system for rural North Dakota could make wholesale products more accessible and affordable for rural businesses and provide a system to distribute locally produced products.
John Kane, from Warehouses4Good, will offer ideas and insights on helping solve the supply
chain issue in rural North Dakota. He will discuss ways to use the empty building space that exists in almost every rural community.

To register, please contact Mary Helvig at or call 701-663-6501. Registration deadline is August 8.

View the Flyer

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Update for Jun 21, 2022

NDSU Extension is a resource for farm stress and mental health, succession planning, becoming a SNAP authorized retailer, Double Up Dakota, disaster management, along with trainings, workshops and a multitude of learning and partnership opportunities. Your county Extension office is a good first contact. 


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Growing the Impact: Building Capacity for Statewide and Regional Food System Plans

NDLFDA is participating in a “community of practice” for local food systems policy councils in the north central states.

It is organized by Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems and funded by a North Central SARE Professional Development Program grant.

We are one of at least nine states participating including Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, etc.

The goal is to create a professional development community of practice among those who are working to develop food systems plans/charters in their states. Participants in food system plan/charter efforts – such as extension educators, farmers, food hub managers, local food council members, statewide food, agriculture, health networks and organizations, and local and state policymakers and agency staff – will increase their knowledge and capacity to conduct their work with an equity lens and build their networks to engage in cross-state collaboration to strengthen local and regional food systems.

Representing NDLFDA in this group are Stephanie Blumhagen, Board Chair (FARRMS), Jan Stankiewicz, (NDSU Extension), and Ann Olson (Strengthen ND).

This community of practice will hold four workshops,  with at least 1 workshop this year, and 3 in 2023. The primary audience is people currently working on or interested in working on state food system plans. Workshops could take various forms. E.g. farmer guest speaker, focused discussion, etc.

We will make sure NDLFDA members know about these workshops and can participate. There's a lot to be gained by meeting with peopel from other states doing the same work we are doing. It helps to know that other states face similar challenges, or to gain inspriation seeing what is possible.

Project leaders interviewed 1 farmer each from MO, KS, MN, IN, OH to ensure they were including a farmer perspective.

If you'd like to view the notes from our first planning meeting, including the responses from the farmer interviews they are here:


Update for Jun 19, 2022

USDA Ag Secretary Vilsack announced a new food systems transformation framework. Read the press release and learn about new funding opportunities from the USDA here:

KX Conversations on upcoming market season

Had a chance to sit down with KX News in Bismarck to talk about our upcoming market season!

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Introducing FARRMS Coffee O’Clock! ☕️

FARRMS will be hosting monthly conversations to connect with fellow farmers. This is a space for farmers to gather, connect and grow our farming community. We'll have a theme each month to spark conversation and fun activities!

Wednesday, May 25 • 12PM-1PM CDT

Register to attend & get email reminders: ⬅️

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FARRMS Announces Holly Rose Mawby Growing Farmers Grant

FARRMS is now accepting applications for the Holly Rose Mawby Growing Farmers grant program in honor of Holly Mawby, a leader in the North Dakota local food movement. 
FARRMS Executive Director, Stephanie Blumhagen says, “Holly planted the seeds of our local food movement and grew North Dakota’s farmers markets. I believe every farmers market vendor or local food producer in the state has been touched by Holly’s work, directly or indirectly.” She added, “Holly was a natural teacher and loved helping new farmers grow. We at FARRMS felt the best way to honor Holly’s legacy is to continue the work by helping local food producers succeed.”
  • This grant is available to local food producers in North Dakota & the Red River Valley.
  • Applicants may request up to $500 for expenses associated with production of local food.
  • Application deadline is Monday, May 23.
  • Find application and more information at

May 17th 2022 NDLFDA Monthly Membership Meeting

NDLFDA Membership Meeting 

May 17, 2022

  1. Welcome: Meeting called to order at 2:00 pm
  2. Introductions.
    1. Stephanie Blumhagen, NDLFDA chair, FARRMS executive director, Bottineau
    2. Ellen Knudsen Duffy, NDLFDA board member, River Road Gardens and Lightspring Solar, Bismarck
    3. Felicity Merritt, FARRMS Program Manager, Fargo
    4. Craig Burns, NDLFDA Vice chair board member, UND Social Work professor, Wana Wota Food Pantry, Devils Lake
    5. Jill Haakenson, USDA Rural Development, BFRDP, Devils Lake
    6. Claire Lowstuter, NDLFDA board secretary, Bismarck Local Foods Coordinator, Folly Hill Farm, Bismarck
    7. Ann Olson, Hilltop Farms, Strengthen ND Local Foods Coordinator 
    8. Karen Ehrens, NDLFDA Board member, Bismarck
    9. Francesca Zetar, NDLFDA AmeriCorps applicant 
    10. Mary Podoll, NRCS State Conservationist 
    11. Jan Stankiewicz, NDSU Extension, Bismarck


  1. Warm-up question: How are you welcoming the warmer weather?


  1. Local Food Systems Discussion (2:10 to 2:20pm) 

Adding an education component to our meetings. We can learn a lot from other similar organizations. Today’s learning comes from the FARRMS Sustainable Ag Intern curriculum.  

  1. Nourish Means . . .
    1. What we do as a local foods alliance is more than creating marketing opportunities. We are trying to nourish our communities. 
  2. Food Systems Diagrams
    1. Industrial food systems vs local food systems
    2. These systems don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Especially in areas like North Dakota where we can’t grow all of our own food.
  3. Nourish Food System Map
  4. FARRMS Sustainable Ag Intern lesson: 

What Are Sustainable Local Food Systems?


  1. Discussion on Mission, and Vision (2:20 - 2:35pm)
    1. Mission Statement - “What do we do and who/what do we do it for?”
    2. Thank you Ellen for organizing the mission statement conversation and survey.  

NDLFDA brings together local food advocates, producers, and consumers to co-create resilient local food systems, resulting in equitable, healthy communities. 

  1. Vision Statement - What is the vision we are working toward?
    Breakout rooms of 2 or 3 for five minutes, five-minute report back: What is our big dream? What would “resilient local food systems” and “equitable, healthy communities” look like? Please see Notes document
  1. ND Compass Article (2:35 - 2:40pm)
    1. NDSU center for Social research publication
    2. Article on NDLFDA by Karen Ehrens and Stephanie Blumhagen
  2. Update on Farm to School in ND (2:40 to 2:47pm)
    1. Notes from 4/26/22 Farm to School Discussion
      1. Purchasing local foods can be complex or confusing for schools. Both real and imagined barriers exist.
      2. Parents are contacting schools and pressuring them to buy local but don’t understand the complexities of purchasing local products (focus on beef).
    2. Funding for Farm to School Producer Education
      1. $2,000 stipend
      2. Available to people who attended training in fall of 2021. 
      3. Trainings have to happen between March 16th and September 30th. 
      4. Could it be used to develop a Farm to School cookbook? 
        1. Incorporate amounts relevant to schools, like how many ½ and ¼ cup servings the recipe makes. 
        2. Quantity foods cooking can be very different from cooking for a family at home. 
      5. Farm to School promotional video? 
    3. NDLFDA Farm to School Folder
  3. AmeriCorps Position Update (2:47 to 2:50pm)
    1. NDLFDA Coordinator 
  4. Member Updates (2:50 to 3:00pm)
    1. View Updates:

Meeting adjourned at 3:02 pm by Chair Stephanie Blumhagen.

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Get Connected to Regional and National Local Food Systems Resources!

There are so many webinars and resources about local food systems. We can't all attend them all, but if we each attend one or two and share what we learned here, on the Member Updates page, then more of North Dakota's local food community can benefit.

I've been attending the "Local and Regional Food Systems Response to Covid" webinar series. It's a great resource and connects you to other local food systems networks around the nation. Every webinar is recorded and the webinars and written summaries can be viewed on their webpage.

Some resources I gleaned from the most recent webinar include a research study done by Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center and Illinois Public Health Institute. "Critical Analysis of Economic Impact Methodologies In Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement"


Another interesting project focused on urban agriculture, came from University at Buffalo Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, "Growing Food Policy from the Ground Up"

I was also pleased to discover the Center for Good Food Purchasing.   

The Center for Good Food Purchasing uses the power of procurement to create a transparent and equitable food system that prioritizes the health and well-being of people, animals, and the environment. We do this through the nationally-networked adoption and implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program by major institutions.

They've created a report on better institutional food purchasing (including local and organic food) The Good Food Purchasing Program: A Roadmap for the Post-Pandemic Food System We Need

THey also produced a case study on school meals in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation.

True Cost of Food: School Meals Case Study


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BisMarket Starts June 4th!

BisMarket is celebrating its 10th season this summer! There are so many ways to celebrate:

  • be a vendor
  • volunteer
  • work with us!
    • hiring for a Food Navigator/SNAP coordinator
  • Shop and support local farmers & makers!

April 19th Monthly Membership Meeting minutes

NDLFDA Membership Meeting     April 19, 2022

  1. Welcome: Meeting called to order at 2:00 pm
  2. Introductions.
    1. Stephanie Blumhagen, NDLFDA chair, FARRMS executive director, Bottineau
    2. Ellen Knudsen Duffy, NDLFDA board member, River Road Gardens and Lightspring Solar, Bismarck
    3. Felicity Merritt, FARRMS Program Manager, Fargo
    4. Craig Burns, NDLFDA Vice chair board member, UND Social Work professor, Wana Wota Food Pantry, Devils Lake
    5. Lucas Brendel, Apple Creek Acres, Lincoln ND
    6. Jill Haakenson, USDA Rural Development, BFRDP, Devils Lake
    7. Claire Lowstuter, NDLFDA board secretary, Bismarck Local Foods Coordinator, Folly Hill Farm, Bismarck
    8. Shelby Hazel, FARRMS Communications Coordinator, Minot
    9. Kristine Kostuck, ND Dept of Ag Local Foods Marketing Specialist, Bismarck
    10. Karen Ehrens, NDLFDA Board member, Bismarck
  3. A Short History of NDLFDA & Review of Strategic Planning Meeting in Carrington on April 11th, 2022
    1. Appreciating where we have been. History: (
    2. Slides from 4/11/22
  4. Strategic Planning Update 
    1. Thank you to Jodi Bruns for facilitating! 
    2. Continued Discussion 
      1.  Summary of 4/11 Meeting
      2. Take the Mini-survey and view survey responses 
    3. Accomplishments
      1. Monthly meetings. Ensure these continue and we keep building this community. 
      2. Website
      3. Making connections and sharing resources.
      4. Bringing together different voices
      5. 501c3 status
    4. Opportunities to help
      1. Ad hoc groups rather than task forces
      2. Tangible projects/tasks that can be shared among NDLFDA membership (currently being done by Felicity and Stephanie). 
        1. Tasks don’t always have to be done by the same person. 
        2. Thank you for volunteering! There is something for everyone. 
    5. Goals
      1. 2 paid staff
      2. 5 years of stable funding 
        1. Create plan for seeking grants. 
          1. Who will help?
        2. Decide what specifically we want funded. 
          1. Create messaging and talking points. 
          2. Develop clear mission and vision.
            1. NDLFDA board will gather to work on this. 
          3. What is the problem that NDLFDA solves? 
      3. Ability to respond to local foods needs. 
      4. Mapping our organization and creating a road map to navigate local foods involvement 
    6. Revise AmeriCorps position description. Consider switching to AmeriCorps ND position at 300 hours to be completed by September 15th 2022. Souris Basin Planning Council said we can do this; they will need to review the revised position description. 
      1. This person can also help coordinate volunteers to help with various tasks to benefit organization: Opportunities to help
      2. FARRMS’ Communications Coordinator Shelby (an AmeriCorps member) may be able to help with NDLFDA social media. 
  5. Update on Farm to School
    1. We are seeing continued interest across the state and forward momentum.
    2. New resource guide for school food service staff. Developed by ND Dept of Ag and ND Dept of Public Instruction. 
      1. ND School Nutrition Conference in Fargo this June.  
      2. More Farm to School videos will be coming from NDDA. One focused on local meat in schools and another focusing on education. 
      3. NDDA applied for the USDA Farm to School grant to fund a part-time Farm to School coordinator. This position will be promotional for Farm to School with the state. They will find out in June if they were awarded the grant.
    3. How can we support the movement?
      1. This year’s Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant due in May has a Farm to Institution track. This could be an opportunity for NDLFDA if we wanted to work on a specific Farm to Institution project. But this is not the only funding opportunity.
      2. What are the gaps in Farm to School in ND? What are we not able to do because of funding?
      3. Claire will help set up a meeting to reconvene the ND Farm to School training group and anyone else interested in being involved. 
  6. AmeriCorps Position Update
    1. NDLFDA Coordinator 
  7. Local Food and Sustainable Ag Grant Opportunities
    1. Reminder: Deadlines are approaching.
  8. Member Updates
    1. View Updates:
      1. USDA Rural Development: Value Added Producer grant is still open. Paper copies must be postmarked by May 2nd. Other specialty grants are happening for local foods too. 
      2. FARRMS: seeing a need for resources for “advanced beginner farmers”. Would like to collaborate with other organizations (ex: NDSU, Northern Plains Resource Conservation And Development Council) and hold meetings to develop curriculum. Mostly targeted to the small producers that FARRMS currently serves, but maybe include larger scale regenerative farmers. Contact Stephanie if you are interested:

Meeting adjourned at 3:05 pm by Chair Stephanie Blumhagen.

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Read the Timeline of NDLFDA's Development

Where did NDLFDA start? Where have we been? What have been the milestones along the way and who has participated in helping build our community?

View the timeline of NDLFDA's development. You can also see the slides from the timeline review at our 4/11 Strategic Planning Meeting

Update for Jan 18, 2022

The Northern Plains RC&D Council is in the process of wrapping up our work with the USDA Technical Assistance Grant funding.  We identified four communities in our service area who wish to make a more concentrated effort on developing local foods and will work with them in the future.

The Council also continues work on a local food mobile app, and expects to have a working model available by March 15th.

We have been providing support to the efforts of the Red River Council to develop a business incubator combined with a commercial kitchen in Grafton. This is an exciting regional project and if they can get funded may become a model for other communities in the region.   We have also been providing input to the local foods effort of Strengthen ND.  

The Council is meeting on Wednesday, January 19th to lay out our directions for the next one to two years to support our mission of using natural resouces to promote community development.  

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NDLFDA is Hiring! NDLFDA Coordinator VISTA

NDLFDA is hiring a Coordinator. This is a 12-month VISTA position. The NDLFDA Coordinator will assist in communications, coordination, outreach, education, and fundraising in order to grow the ND Local Food Development Alliance and build local food systems in North Dakota.

View the position description: NDLFDA Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA.


AmeriCorps Position Title:

NDLFDA Coordinator, VISTA Member


Member Position Description:

This is an AmeriCorps VISTA Position under the Souris Basin Community Builder Program. The NDLFDA Coordinator will coordinate the North Dakota Local Food Development Alliance’s communications and activities and grow NDLFDA’s membership. Our mission is to design and implement a local food development plan to achieve the vision of a vibrant, prosperous, local food sector.


This position reports to the NDLFDA Board Chair, Stephanie Blumhagen. VISTA positions are for 12 months. VISTA members receive a living allowance between $14,000 and $14,950 per year, limited health benefits, a housing allowance, a relocation allowance and childcare assistance, (if eligible). VISTA members also receive an end of service benefit of a choice of education stipend or cash award.

Learn more about the Souris Basin VISTA program HERE.

Essential Functions: Duties, Service Activities and Assignments

Coordination and Communications

  • Coordinate monthly NDLFDA member meetings (agendas, meeting reminders, speaker recruitment, take notes)
  • Manage NDLFDA’s website which serves as a central point for communications and information sharing.
  • Identify and share resources of interest to NDLFDA membership, such as articles, data on local food, and grant opportunities
  • Assist in coordination and outreach for NDLFDA webinars, workshops, or events

Outreach and Recruitment

  • Recruit new NDLFDA members and raise awareness of local food systems
  • Manage social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube)
  • Create visually appealing and engaging outreach materials including social media posts and videos


  • Create a local food education campaign with messaging about what local food is and why it matters


  • Identify and apply for grants to support NDLFDA’s mission

Other Duties as Assigned

Participate in trainings and activities sponsored by AmeriCorps such as AmeriCorps Days of Service


To Apply:

Submit a resume, cover letter, and three references to We will begin scheduling interviews the first week in February 2022.

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Virtual Cooking Class

Join FARRMS for an Introduction to the Mediterranean Diet for those of us who live on the Prairie! Karen and Duane Ehrens, longtime cooking course instructors in Bismarck, will bring us together online Monday, January 24 from 6-7:30 p.m.
Follow along with Duane as he prepares two recipes which will be shared with attendees. Learn the basics and health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet approach to healthful eating and how to incorporate local foods into this meal pattern.
Tickets are required. A suggested donation of $25/ticket helps FARRMS bring you more local food events and workshops.
Buy Tickets:
Find Facebook Event:

Local Food Loans & Grants from USDA RD!

The Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program is a part of USDA’s Build Back Better initiative to strengthen critical supply chains and our food system. This program guarantees loans of up to $40 million for qualified lenders to finance food systems projects, specifically for the start-up or expansion of activities in the middle of the food supply chain. The program will support new investments in infrastructure for food aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storage, transportation, wholesaling, and distribution to increase capacity and create a more resilient, diverse, and secure U.S. food supply chain.

North Dakota USDA Rural Development will be hosting a Rural Business Development Grant Program webinar for those interested in the FY22 application cycle on December 17, 2021 at 10:00 am CT. The webinar will be offered again on December 20, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. CT. RBDG is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities. More information on the RBDG Program is available by visiting: If you wish to attend one of the webinars, please email: or to receive an invite to the webinar.

USDA Farm To School Grants Available - Due January 10, 2022

Learn more here:

Each year $5 million is provided to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support grants, technical assistance, and other activities related to USDA’s Farm to School Program. Additional funding for the Farm to School Program was made available from the FY 2018 through FY 2021 agriculture appropriations acts and, as a result, USDA expects to award approximately $12 million under this solicitation. The USDA Farm to School Grant Program is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS).

Authorizing language in Section 18(g) of the NSLA (42 USC 1769(g)) directs the Secretary of Agriculture to award competitive grants, designed to improve access to local foods in eligible schools, for activities such as:

  • Training;
  • Supporting operations;
  • Planning;
  • Purchasing equipment;
  • Developing school gardens;
  • Developing partnerships; and
  • Implementing farm to school programs.

The NSLA also directs the Secretary to ensure geographical diversity and equitable treatment of urban, rural, and tribal communities in the distribution of grant awards, as well as give the priority to funding projects that, as determined by the Secretary:

  • Make local food products available on the menu of the eligible school;
  • Serve a high proportion of children who are eligible for free or reduced price lunches;
  • Incorporate experiential nutrition education activities in curriculum planning that ;encourage the participation of school children in farm and garden-based agricultural education activities;
  • Demonstrate collaboration between eligible schools, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, agricultural producer groups, and other community partners;
  • Include adequate and participatory evaluation plans;
  • Demonstrate the potential for long-term program sustainability; and
  • Meet any other criteria that the Secretary determines appropriate.


Update for Dec 14, 2021

Northern Plains RC&D continues to work on community outreach to develop a stronger local food initiative in regional communities.  To date meetings have been held in Langdon and Rugby.  Meetings are being worked on for Devils Lake and Park River/Walsh County.  

We are also continuing to work on developing a Local Foods Mobile App.  We anticipate doing some beta testing with producers during the month of January and then consumers in February and/or March.  Goal is an app that is completed and put to use in the 2022 growing season!

USDA Community Food Projects grants - closing December 20, 2021

NIFA’s Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) is soliciting applications to fund two types of grants. The types are entitled (1) Community Food Projects (CFP) and (2) Planning Projects (PP). The purpose of the CFP is to support the development of projects with a one-time infusion of federal dollars to make such projects self-sustaining. CFPs are designed to create community-based food projects with objectives, activities and outcomes that are in alignment with Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) primary goals. The purpose of a Planning Project (PP) is to complete a plan toward the improvement of community food security in keeping with the primary goals of the CFPCGP. Projects and plans are to focus on a defined community and describe in detail the activities and outcomes of the plan or project.


Learn more:

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Register for Farm Beginnings - Free until December 20!

FARRMS is currently accepting registrants for our 2022 Session of Farm Beginnings!

  • ​Classes are led by local farmers who understand that farming is not just a business, it’s a way of life.
  • We’ll help you craft a farm plan designed to achieve the quality of life that you and your family want.
  • You’ll be paired with a farmer mentor who understands the unique rewards and challenges of sustainable farming because they live them daily.
  • We’ll connect you with educational and financial resources in your community to help keep you growing.

Farm Beginnings is offered online. Classes are Thursday evenings, 6 pm - 8 pm CST from January 2022, through April 2022. Registration is free until December 20 and tuition is $500 per farm. We offer scholarships and payment plans to ensure the course is accessible to all.

Visit to register or learn more.

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Gather Food Sovereignty Grants Accepting Applications

Apply by January 13, 2022

First Nations Development Institute will award grants averaging $32,000 for programs and services that focus on developing Tribal Food Sovereignty. In this round of the Gather Food Sovereignty Grant, First Nations expects to award up to seven grants averaging $32,000 to support Native American-led food sovereignty work.

Learn More:

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FARRMS is Hiring a Communications Coordinator

Our current Communications Coordinator will be completing her AmeriCorps Service at the end of the year. We’re looking for a new Communications Coordinator to continue the great outreach work she’s been doing.
FARRMS has stories to tell and we need a Communications Coordinator to help us tell them. We put our farmers front and center in our programming and in our marketing. We share photos and stories of our Farm Beginnings graduates, interns, and mentor farmers to recruit new program participants and donors. In order to reach a diverse audience, we tell our stories on many different platforms. We use Facebook, Instagram, our FARRMS News page, MailChimp for e-news, press releases, and targeted e-mails. We maintain several contact lists, with hundreds of contacts. We’ve decided to hire a Communications Coordinator to help us do all of this even better.
Our Communications Coordinator is an AmeriCorps position at 900 hours through September 15, 2022. This is about 25-30 hours per week. The AmeriCorps member will receive up to $11,700 total (roughly $13/hour) and is eligible for an education award up to $3,172.50 upon completion of service. FARRMS staff currently work from home so this will be a remote work position with occasional travel to events, farm field days, and farmers markets during the summer.
View full position description:
Learn more about AmeriCorps:
We will begin interviews on November 22, 2021 and continue until we’ve selected a candidate.

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NDLFDA Will Host Holiday Social

Join us Tuesday, December 21 at 5:30 PM, for an informal gathering to meet, connect, and celebrate local food! This event is open to all and will be an opportunity to learn more about the NDLFDA, and meet others interested in local food. We have some fun holiday activities planned. Grab your favorite Christmas sweater and join us! 


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Bismarck Farm to School- CLICK HERE

BPS Farm to School December meetings

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Update for Oct 18, 2021

BisMarket finished its 9th season on October 16th. The Fall Vendor & Annual meeting will be Thursday, November 4th from 6-7:30 pm in Meeting room A of the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library. 

Update for Oct 18, 2021

North Dakota School and Rural Distribution Challenges

School foodservice operations are facing many challenges this year. Among the challenges are staffing shortages at the local level, manufacturers facing their own set of staffing and ingredient challenges, distributors facing warehouse worker and truck driver shortages, all amid the food supply chain unsettling that first began during the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. For schools, this is resulting in outages and short orders of food and supplies. These factors are impacting schools (and other businesses and institutions that prepare and serve and sell food) across the United States, and have been covered in both the

New York Times, “No Veggies, No Buns, Few Forks: Schools” (pdf of article accompanies summary) and

Washington Post, “The cold truth about hot lunch: School meal programs are running out of food and workers”

Specific to North Dakota, a school purchasing co-op, North Dakota Educators Service (ESC) Cooperative, had facilitated a bid order for food items serving 100+, or about half of the school districts in the state. The co-op and schools received word that Cash-Wa Distributing would not fulfill the contract as of the beginning of November, 2021.


U.S. and North Dakota organizations have been coming together in response. Here is a summary of some groups’ responses:

  • The USDA is supporting schools through the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. They are not penalizing schools who are unable to meet meal pattern guidelines due to national supply chain difficulties, and have announced “up to $1.5 billion to provide assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions”
  • The ND Department of Public Instruction, Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Programs, is meeting with other states and the USDA to inform them of the situation and learn about what other states are doing in similar situation. NDDPI personnel are providing technical assistance including a procurement assistance web page at: .
  • The ESC Co-op is trying to work with some other food service distributors to try to fulfill the bid and seek other solutions, and meeting with grocers and other groups across the states seeking solutions.
  • ND Department of Agriculture has increased information on their website,

producer guide:

  • School foodservice professionals in kitchens across the state are responding with creativity and determination when they find their food orders have been shorted or do not arrive, and are continuing free school meals for all students although many schools are short of workers.
  • The Creating a Hunger Free ND Coalition is bringing information and the chance to learn of and brainstorm potential solutions through meetings in August and September, and bringing network of connections to the table.
  • The ND Local Foods Development Alliance is holding calls and contacting local food growers who might have product, especially produce, that can be sold to schools. This topic was on the 9.21.21 agenda, meeting summary at:

Meeting recording at:

Organized a K-12 Food Supply Chain Shortage & Farm-to-School on 10.2.21, meeting summary at:

  • FARRMS Executive Director Stephanie Blumhagen is sharing information about opportunities for local producers, such as, in a high tunnel/hoop house, it can be possible to still grow short season crops such as radishes and greens. They have been sharing information to local food producers on disaster preparedness and the role of local food systems in pandemics and other unexpected, unknown situations. Informational webinar posted at Pandemic Response and Safety Grant: Their approach to this time and circumstances is to consider at an “opportunity for transformation.”
  • NDSU Extension Service is reaching out to local growers and has published an online Guide to Buying and Selling Local Food

  • ND Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Lori Capouch, Rural Development Director, shares that the NDAREC’s, using knowledge and connections gained through working on viability of rural grocers, which also is impacted by distribution/logistics (, is bringing grocery stores into the conversation as a source of ordering food for schools. The NDAREC’s is also continuing conversations with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) on opportunities to utilize the postal service, who still makes deliveries to every North Dakota community. The USPS can be an effective option when transportation to a particular location is the main issue. NDAREC’s is also holding discussions with the Great Plains Food Bank for potential to work with their delivery trucks.

Karen Ehrens, summarizing the issues in role as the Coordinator for the Creating a Hunger Free ND Coalition


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Bismarck Public Schools Farm to School Info Meetings for Producers

Please contact Claire Lowstuter, Local Foods Coordinator, to RSVP or with any questions. email:; phone:701-955-8522. Thank you!

NDSU Extension Monthly Update

USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provided a breakdown of information to ND DPI, NDSU Extension and ND Dept of Ag regarding the North Dakota specific farm to school census. 

71% survey response rate (aim to have closer to 80%)

66% of school food authorities(districts) report doing at least 1 (of 30) farm to school activities. We will work to get more information around the level of involvement in farm to school activities (i.e. of the 30 activities, % of schools doing 1, 5, 10+). 

48% of the schools are serving local food (nat'l avg = 50%)

16% of the schools have an edible garden (nat'l avg = 22%)

Avg $ spent on local foods = $3300 (regional avg = $16,000) [some local product is donated, which could skew the $$]

Will work to get the breakdown by food product (i.e. of the $3300, $$ spent on meat, F/V, honey, dry goods, etc.)


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USDA offers Pandemic Response and Safety Grant for specialty crop producers and farmers markets

The USDA Agricultural Market Service is offering grants up to $20,000 for small specialy crop producers, food processors, manufacturers, distributors and farmers markets to recover costs incurred by responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The application period opens September 23 and closes on November 8.

FARRMS offered a webinar on September 16 to help farmers and farmers market managers prepare to apply for this grant. We will hold a second webinar on September 30, 2021 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm CDT. In the second webinar we will walk through the application forms and process to submit an application. We have collected resources and guidance for those interested in applying for this application and posted them on our website and Facebook page

View the Webinar Recording and Applicant Resources

View our Facebook Event

View the USDA AMS Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Fact Sheet

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Update for Sep 20, 2021

September is Hunger Action Month 📣
The 2018 Hunger in North Dakota study conducted by the Great Plains Food Bank revealed that of the North Dakota respondents surveyed 69% can't afford to eat balanced meals and 93% of partner agencies and food pantries agree it is important to offer healthier food to clients.
We need your help to support efforts to decrease hunger in our communities! That is why FARRMS is partnering with the Great Plains Food Bank and hosting a virtual food drive. We are currently at $330 of our $500 Dollar goal! Every penny counts! 
Virtual Food Drive:
If you are up for some hands-on hunger relief let's talk Gleaning! Gleaning is to gather leftover grain or other produce after a harvest. Farmers are often able to bring excess produce to the local food pantry to be distributed each week (call ahead to confirm they have the capacity for perishable items).
In the United States, it is estimated that 30-40% of the food supply is wasted . Farms, transportation, factories, distribution, stores, and homes all play a part in food waste. We can cut down on some of the waste at the farmer level by donating our excess produce or starting a gleaning program.
Do you make use of all your plants have to offer? Do you know a farmer who would allow you to glean after harvest? The USDA put together a Gleaning Toolkit in 2009 (that has some outdated stats but a lot of great info) on how to get started and feed your family or community!

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Update for Sep 20, 2021

Hunger Action Month

 Hunger Action Month is spearheaded by Feeding America, the nation’s network of foodbanks, of which Great Plains Food Bank in North Dakota is a member. GPFB has more information for Hunger Action Month on their website: and calendar with daily suggestions for action: 

The Governor proclaimed September as Hunger Action Month, with a special acknowledgement of the work of many organizations and people across our state who helped get food and/or resources to people during the COVID Pandemic (which unfortunately is continuing on) 

Household Food Security in the United States in 2020
This month the USDA Economic Research Service released its annual data compilation all about food insecurity. The amazing thing is that the national rate of food insecurity, 10.5%, remained unchanged from 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic) to 2020 (the initial nearly full year of the pandemic). Food insecurity rates in North Dakota remained steady at around 8 percent.
How could that be, you ask?
Think of waivers and increased amounts of federal food programs, and increased donations of food and funds, and federal COVID assistance programs from unemployment insurance to child tax credits and other safety net payments that helped provide people with resources to purchase food. With that, food insecurity rates remained steady; without the extra aid, it could have been much worse.That said, there are still people in our state and nation without enough to eat. Read the report here:
Farmers Markets
It’s a great month to take in fresh local food at your farmers market. Farmers Markets in Bismarck, Fargo, Rolette, Spirit Lake, Stanley, Wahpeton and Washburn accept SNAP benefits. The list can be found at and shared from: Benefit%20 Markets.pdf
Even better, thanks to NDSU Extension Service and other advocates, there are Farmers Markets where SNAP purchases can be doubled as an incentive to purchase more fruits and vegetables.
SNAP Double Up projects are in place at these markets:


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Felicity Merritt hired as Program Manager for FARRMS

We are delighted to announce that we have hired Felicity Merritt as the new Program Manager for FARRMS. In this position she will develop and implement all of FARRMS' educational programs including Farm Beginnings, Internship programs, Mentorship Program, workshops/webinars and farm field days. Welcome Felicity!

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Success Strategies for ND Farmers Market Vendors - Webinar on June 16, 2021

Success Strategies for ND Farmers Market Vendors

Summer is coming and farmers markets will open soon. Have you dreamed of selling your own homegrown, homemade products at a farmers market? This is your year! 

Join us on June 16 from 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm CDT for Success Strategies for ND Farmers Market Vendors.

Are you selling at a farmers market for the first time? This webinar is for you! Have you been selling at a farmers market for a few seasons, but you want to learn some new tips? This webinar is also for you!

We’ll bring you market managers and seasoned farmers market vendors from rural and urban farmers markets across North Dakota. They’ll share their tips and real life stories to help you have a successful season as a farmers market vendor. 

  • How do I find a local farmers market?
  • What questions should I ask my farmers market manager?
  • How should I prepare for market day?
  • What supplies do I need and how can I make my booth stand out? 
  • Where can I find additional resources for my farm-based business?

Register at

Facebook Event:

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NDLFDA applying for RSP Grant

NDLFA is excited to apply for the Regional Food Systemes Partnership grant!

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Update for Jun 9, 2021

Most of our trees and berry bushes survived the first winter and currently seem to be thriving. We were able to fill our raised beds and get plants (generously donated by Legacy Gardens in Moorhead, MN) into the soil on 6/8/21.

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Update for Jun 9, 2021

  • Community Garden in progress.
  • Tilled 35 gardens for community members.
  • Approved for SNAP at Spirit Lake Mobile Farmers Market.
  • Working with FARRMS for a market intern.
  • Received hydroponics system--waiting for construction of new greenhouse to install system using student apprentices to learn the ins/outs of assembly and function (food sovereignty effort with young adults).
  • Hired Assistant Director Jessica Fish who will be representing CCCC at NDLFDA in some/all future meetings.
  • Corn maze and pumpkin patch coordinated, disked, fertilized, planted for Fall 2021.

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Cass Clay Food Partners COVID-19 Response

Cass Clay Food Partners COVID-19 Response published Description, summary, and recommendations of the response of food partners on the border in North Dakota/Minnesota published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development.

“The Cass Clay Food Partners is a network of professionals, stakeholders, and residents serving Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota, in creating a healthier, more just local food system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cass Clay Food Partners quickly implemented a multipronged response that leveraged three critical assets of our network: (1) our unique structure, (2) our nuanced understanding of the social ties across overlapping networks, and (3) our ability to quickly pivot our work to address community needs. In this paper, we describe how our network re­sponded to both the challenges and opportunities presented to our food system by the COVID-19 crisis. We also provide tools and recommendations for other food policy and food network practitioners.”

full text article:

Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens,

North Dakota Compass provides a look at the 3 phases of the data collection in their “Data Visualizations” project.

Overarching pieces of information from the survey specifically for North Dakota:

  • Food insufficiency was more prevalent in households with children than in households without children prior to the pandemic.
  • Food insufficiency increased during the pandemic.
  • Affordability was most frequently reported as a reason for not having enough to eat. 
  • Households with children were three times more likely to have received free groceries or free meals.
  • School programs with free meals were the predominant source of support for meals and groceries for households with children.
  • See the results for the Pulse survey “Food Insufficiency” measure here.

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Update for May 18, 2021

Start of Community Garden, Garden Tilling Programs this season.  Farmers Market and accepting SNAP in planning/process.  

Questions? Contact Heidi Ziegenmeyer,

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Changes happening that impact access to food and nutrition benefits

  • April 30, 2021, North Dakota ended its emergency declaration around COVID. From the ND Department of Human Services (emergency benefits brought all participants up to the maximum benefit level; the 15% increase to regular benefit levels will continue through the summer):
  • “North Dakota’s COVID-19 emergency declaration will be lifted on April 30, 2021. Federal regulations allow for SNAP to issue additional benefits for one month after the end of the state’s emergency declaration. Therefore, the benefit month of May 2021 will be the final month the additional benefits will be issued. SNAP participants will continue to receive their regular SNAP benefits based on the benefit amount for which they qualify.
  • 15% BENEFIT INCREASE - The temporary 15% increase to SNAP benefits will continue and has been extended through September 2021. This increase is included in the SNAP benefit issued on the first of every month.”


June 19, 2021, North Dakota will terminate its participation in the federal government’s pandemic-related unemployment assistance programs. It is unknown how this will impact people’s ability to have enough resources to purchase food.

The American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 (ARP)

The American Rescue Act Plan of 2021 (ARP), signed into law on March 11, 2021, is a multi-faceted package that will provide assistance to the people who are still working to increase their lost or reduced earnings and dig out from debts that have been accumulating over the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ARA includes provisions to help with health, childcare, food, unemployment insurance and more.

Specific food and nutrition help provided through the ARP includes:

  • Extending the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September 2021; 68 percent of these benefits are estimated to go to families with children. This increase averages to about $28.00 per person per month, meaning that there is about one million dollars per month more being spent on food in North Dakota.
  • Extending the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program for the full duration of the pandemic. P-EBT benefits are provided for children whose households participate in SNAP for make up for meals missed when schools are closed.
  • Support for state agencies with matching funds to administer increased program demand.


Maybe the most remarkable thing about the ARP is the potential to lift children out of poverty, which can help our children achieve their fullest potential, and help our whole nation succeed. It seems that all people can agree that we would like a better life for all our children. 

Analysis shows that elements of the ARP including extension of pandemic unemployment benefits, extension of the higher levels of SNAP, the $1,400 recovery rebate payment, and that advance on the Child Tax Credit (CTC) have the potential lift 40 percent of children in the United States out of poverty. 

The CTC changes include making it available to people who previously earned too little to benefit from it, extending the benefit to children aged 17, and increasing the amount of the benefit from $2000 to $3000 for children ages 6-17 and to $3600 for children under age 6.  Based on just the expansion of the CTC in North Dakota, it is estimated that 4,000 children will be lifted out of poverty and 10,000 children will be lifted above or closer to the poverty line. Moreover, nearly all North Dakota children, about 157,000 (92 percent) will benefit from the CTC changes.

The additional money from the ARP will help families be able to afford enough food every day for a healthy and active lifestyle, and prevent families from having to make difficult decisions between paying for food and paying for rent or for medications.

Though the impacts of COVID have been severe, we are beginning to build back. But after going through such a trying period in our state and nation, we have the potential not just go back to where we were, but to get to an even better place than we were before.

    Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens,

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American Rescue Plan Act signed into law

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law. There are several channels by which food and nutrition services will make their way to people living in our state. Here are some key funding actions:

  • $3.6 billion to purchase food products from farmers for distribution through food banks, nonprofits, or restaurants
  • Increases the fruits and vegetables cash value benefit to $35/month (tripling the benefit) to WIC participants, and other funds to modernize technology and conduct outreach
  • $37 million for senior nutrition through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program
  • $750 million designated for nutrition services (home-delivered and congregate dining programs) within the $1.4 billion for the Older Americans Act (OAA)
  • Extends access to the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program for children of school age for the duration of the health emergency
  • Extends the 15 percent increase (about $27 per month per person) in SNAP benefits for all participants through September 30, 2021, plus state administrative support and funds for expanding online purchases
  • Support for farmers of color
  • Support for rural areas of our country: rental support, refinancing help, rural hospital and community funds.

More in USDA fact sheet at:

Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens, Coordinator |

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Monitoring at the state level- bills impacting food availability

There is a proposed study of nutrition resources for public schools. Of interest to the NDLFDA membership in the current language includes "A review of the potential to use local and state products in school lunch programs and public-private partnerships." Find more information on the bill here. If interested in seeing this pass, reach out now to district representatives in the ND House. 

Monitoring bills and executive actions at the federal level. The large budget appropriations/COVID relief bill known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 passed Congress at the end of 2020. In ND so far, this bill has resulted in a 15 percent temporary increase in SNAP food assistance benefits through the end of June, 2021. 

Food insecurity is acknowledged by the Great Plains Food Bank: During 2020, the Great Plains Food Bank provided food for nearly five million meals more than 2019, and served a total of 145,587 individuals, which is more than 43,000 more than one year ago. Each of these increases are records in the long 38-year history of the Great Plains Food Bank.

Learn more: Contact Karen,

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Update for Jan 14, 2021

Working with FARRMS on BFRDP planning grant-possible food sovereignty certificate at CCCC. Prepping for upcoming year of community garden, farmers markets, corn maze & pumpkin patch. Working to become SNAP eligible farmers market

Heidi Ziegenmeyer,

Update for Dec 16, 2020

2020 has been an incredible year for all of us living at this time. When it comes to access to food, there have been many changes and challenges. From the Creating a Hunger Free North Dakota Coalition, we offer up our appreciation and sincere thanks to all the people whose hands have helped get food to people. 

CHFND's partners have recently shared how they are responding to unprecedented food needs deepened and widened by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic stresses. State agencies and nonprofit organizations have been working to expand and/or change services to deliver them remotely. More WIC operations and services are able to be accessed remotely. Federal funding has increased SNAP monthly amounts for many who receive it, and Pandemic EBT benefits were made available to families with children when school was not in session. School food service personnel have been adapting rapidly to meet the different ways in which education is being delivered, and meals prepared and served to children from schools are available at no charge with the support of federal funding.Senior meals providers received extra federal funding to cover additional costs of packaging for meals picked up or delivered. CARES Act funding was designated to help increase cold-holding infrastructure for food pantries and rural grocery stores and to help small grocery stores with online ordering. Farmers to Families food boxes and additional federal funding, along with donations from individuals and the private sector,  boosted amounts of food available through the charitable feeding networks that include food pantries and soup kitchens.

Needs not being met include transportation and volunteers to get food to people.  We are exploring how the increase in gardening and donations of locally-grown food helped people meet food needs. 

Questions? Contact Karen Ehrens,

Information sharing is a key role of the North Dakota Local Food Development Alliance. This page is a way to collect updates from the local food community and make that information available in a shared location. Here you can create and share updates, find information about upcoming events and activities, and comment or interact with other’s posts.

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