Strawn’s roots in the Florida cattle industry go back to the 19th century. She was raised around her family’s Deep Creek Ranch in West Volusia County, which raises Angus and South Poll cattle and Katahdin sheep. Long an advocate of locally grown foods, Strawn teamed up with Rebecca Reis-Miller as founder of Slow Food Orlando, to launch Growing Synergy at the UCF Business Incubator in St. Cloud.
“Demand for locally grown foods in rapidly expanding and growing. Synergy provides the distribution link to connect small Florida farms with Florida restaurants, hotels, and chefs, Strawn said.
Growing Synergy will focus on farm-raised proteins —typically the most expensive items on a menu —and hopes to expand eventually to include farm products produce and even specialty products such as cheeses, herbs and wines, Strawn added.
“We’re focusing on the area where we can have the biggest impact,” said Reis-Miller.
“The giant food processors aren’t going to go away and processed food will remain the largest part of the American diet,” she said, “But there is a large and growing demand for more sustainable foods that don’t require so much energy to produce, process, store, and truck to market.”
And there are big gaps in America’s food production chain, Reis-Miller added.
“If we can reduce the steps that go into food production and distribution, we can make food at the grocery store — and on the restaurant table — fresher, healthier and better for the world,” she explained.
About the UCF Business Incubation Program - Since its founding in 1999, the UCF Business Incubation Program has helped more than 200 emerging companies (including more than 100 current clients) create over $200 million in annual total economic output and more than 1,600 new jobs with an average salary of $59,000. With nine facilities across the Greater Orlando community, the Business Incubation Program is a collaboration in economic development between the University of Central Florida, Orange County, the City of Orlando, Seminole County, the City of Winter Springs, The City of Sanford, Lake County, the City of Leesburg, Osceola County, the City of Kissimmee, City of St. Cloud, Volusia County and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. Please visit www.incubator.ucf.edu and UCFBIP on Facebook.