serves up food news and networking

(view more articles in SOS Tompkins Weekly)

Tompkins Weekly 6-29-15

By Alison Fromme

I’m so pleased to introduce a new community resource: Hot Potato Press, the online food news and networking site for Ithaca and Tompkins County. Everyone can access it at

What makes Hot Potato Press different from other food and farming websites? Hot Potato Press aims to connect the many, many residents who care about the health, fairness, and sustainability of our food system and 150+ organizations in our county working in food and farming. It offers an online space to learn about food and agriculture issues directly affecting us and provides an ongoing forum for generating cooperation –and solutions– among community members. Everyone can participate in online conversations, ask questions, comment on issues of concern, contribute articles and find community events, classes, and celebrations of food.

Hot Potato Press is truly a community effort. It was launched by GreenStar Community Projects (501c3) and the Feeding Our Future Network, and it is tightly linked to in-person networking events. Many volunteers have contributed time and energy refining the concept of the site, offering organizational help, and contributing writing and photography. The effort is also supported by The Park Foundation, CFCU Community Credit Union, Reimer Consulting, and Ancient Wisdom Productions.

In addition to offering frequently updated news and conversations, we also started a pilot Citizen Journalism Training Program, supported by a Sustainable Tompkins Neighborhood Mini-Grant, to help ensure that Hot Potato Press includes multiple perspectives on food system challenges. This spring, Ithaca residents Phoebe Brown, Katie Cox, and Michele Jones met with me (editor of Hot Potato Press) at Southside Community Center to start this Program. We talked about what journalism is, how it’s done, and its potential. We participated in an online course with NewsU, a program of the prestigious Poynter Institute. Then, each citizen journalist created her own plan to research and report on a food or farming issue that is important to her. The first of these articles, written by Phoebe Brown, now appears on the site, and the others will be published soon.

It is our hope that the writers trained by this program will become a core group who will write or edit for Hot Potato Press into the future. This is a way to create opportunities for leadership – for the writers themselves – and civic engagement for the readers of the site. We want this project to support and stimulate community-based activities by offering aspiring writers the chance to feature their own food and agriculture concerns –and successes– to the broader Tompkins County population. This is key to improving the long-term health of our community.

Hot Potato Press is a community resource that will grow and change as more people use it – and we hope you will participate! Storytelling, “news you can use,” and conversations are the heart of this online effort. The site has the potential to build and reinforce real-life relationships and foster a deep understanding of what’s wrong with our current food system – and what it takes to make it healthy, just, and sustainable.

You can join this effort, in small or big ways: Visit and share the site with your friends. Sign up to receive weekly updates by email. Contribute your own comments, questions, stories, ideas, and events. “Like” Hot Potato Press on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Suggest ideas for topics you’d like to see on the site. Volunteer to be a reporter or photographer. Consider donating to keep the site going, or consider sponsoring an article about a specific topic, or a specific reporter, or the site as a whole.

There is so much to celebrate, and yet there so much more work to be done to ensure that we have a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. We hope you’ll join the food news and networking conversation at or email for more information.


If you liked this article, you may want to check out our complete archives of SOS Tompkins Weekly articles