Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oklahoman reports April's story.

Go here to read April's story in the business section of the Oklahoman today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ODOT starts to back-track on April Harrington situation

The story we broke to the public yesterday about ODOT's treatment of April Harrington was the lead story last night on Channel 4 Television.  Amazingly, ODOT is now saying "maybe we can re-engineer the highway so we don't have to take April's property."  Keep making those calls to state reps and senators and the governor's office, now is the time to keep the pressure on.

View the KFOR story here .

Some more background info --
  • Earth Elements has 8 - 14 employees depending on the season
  • They buy betwen 5,000 - 6,000 pounds of produce yearly from local farmers
  • They use 44% local food in their line of 300+ products
  • A yearly average of 7 local food entrepreneurs depend on her certified kitchen to process their products for higher resale value
April is asking for:
"Fair compensation for the building and the work having to be done for ODOT to settle this matter, also fair time allowance to rebuild or at least compensation for the time we are shut down."
FYI - April is this year's winner of an Oklahoma Sustainability Network (OSN) award for her work to grow and support the local food movement! 
Here is a way to find your State Senator and Rep:

Hat tip to Christine Patton/Transition OKC for the additional talking points.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A crime is being committed against April Harrington!

The growing of a local system is a complex endeavor.  In many ways, it mimics nature itself.   There are many different structures and systems that are involved, that grow and inter-act with each other.

The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is such a structure; so are the various producers that are marketing into the local economy. 

And so are businesses such as April Harrington's Market-Bakery.

She fills a unique and irreplaceable role in the local food system.  She buys excess produce from local farmers in season, preserves it, and produces delicious food products which are bought year-round by customers.  In addition, several other local entrepreneurs rent her facilities or contract with her to produce their products which they sell to their customers.

Unfortunately for April, her customers, her employees, the other food businesses who use her bakery, and the farmers whose produce she buys, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is doing its best to put her out of business.

The state wants to widen the highway that runs by her bakery, and so her building – and thus her business – will be taken by the state for the highway project. ODOT is talking low-ball money offers and a drop dead date of January 1, 2011 for her to get out of her building. That isn’t enough time to replace the facilities elsewhere and relocate her business, and I don’t think they are offering her enough money either.  AFAIK, they are offering nothing to help with business relocation, nor compensation for the down-time of her business while she relocates.  They will do nothing for her employees, for the other entrepreneurs who rent her facilities, nor for the farmers who are dependent upon her as a market for their excess and #2 produce.

What’s happening to April Harrington is a terrible crime of social and economic injustice.

A business like April’s just doesn’t happen over night. She has worked smart and hard to create a unique business that fills an important niche in the developing local food scene in Oklahoma. Times are hard enough these days without the State coming in and destroying jobs and businesses for no good reason in rural areas.

This is a political issue, and this is an election year.

Folks, it's time to swarm the barricades in defense of April Harrington, her employees, the entrepreneurs who rent her bakery, her customers, and the farmers whose produce she buys.

I urge everyone to contact their representatives and senators in the state legislature and the governor to demand justice for April Harrington – and her customers, employees, the entrepreneurs who rent her bakery, and the farmers whose produce she buys.