Beth grew up in the New York metropolitan area in Central Jersey. She jokes it is not the epitome of the Garden State, more like the Paved State. She earned a degree in Urban Planning and started her working life. Using an expression she picked up living in Tennessee for 17 years, Beth is very “tickled” that her past six years have been involved with farms and farmers.
After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Beth and her husband Graham decided they would try to change their eating habits to source food as locally as possible and to try to eat foods when available in season. A few months into providing blogging about West Virginia small farms for The Collaborative for 21st Century Appalachia, Beth heard of the desire to open a year-round indoor local food market in Huntington. Helping first by providing a list of local farmers, then making farm visits and blogging, then more and more as The Wild Ramp opened and thrived, Beth felt the power of individuals with good ideas.
After Graham and Beth moved to McMinnville, Oregon in 2012, she got in touch with numerous farm organizations but it was a summer job helping a farmer when it all clicked into place. Knowing that food waste is part of the problem about feeding America, Beth had felt guilty of her own fuzzy left-overs in the back of the refrigerator. And she was well aware of how much food gets tossed into dumpsters at grocery stores and restaurants. But it was not until that summer on the farm that she became aware of how much perfectly good food was not reaching consumers. Getting the brainstorm while weeding 6 hours in the sun, Beth approached the farmer offering to take care of the legalities if they could go into a partnership of sorts to reduce the amount of wasted food.
And so, with naivety similar to the group which started the year round indoor local food in West Virginia, the concept of a food processing enterprise servicing very small farms was born. Officially licensed in July 2015 with four regular farm partners and many other individuals with surplus produce, Can-Do Real Foods got to work!
Marketing began officially in September at the McMinnville downtown farmers’ market and has continued after the harvest season ended at other markets as well. The off-season also provides time for education at numerous conferences and development of new recipes and products lines for the 2016 harvest.