Food Network Solutions

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

“Agriculture can serve life only if it is regarded as a culture of healthy relationships, both in the field—among soil organisms, insects, animals, plants, water, sun—and in the human communities it supports.”

-France Moore Lappe

Reporting in from the Food Solutions New England convening in Burlington, Vermont.  Exciting and challenging conversation happening here about how to knit individual state food planning efforts into a robust regional network that ensures greater availability of and access to “local” food.  As part of the proceedings, we have heard a very informative and inspiring presentation by Rich Pirog, now of Michigan State University and previously of the Leopold Center in Iowa.  Rich has been part of very impressive work nurturing regional food networks, profiled in a report that served as pre-reading for the gathering.

Some of the highlights from the report worth mentioning here are the implications raised for other regional food networks, including:

  1. Local engagement and leadership at the grassroots level is essential for making decisions and making the work relevant, useful, effective and additive.
  2. Institutions must work collectively and take cues from grassroots organizers and leaders to provide resources that support local decision makers.
  3. Collectively held values and power should be shared within and across organizations.  To this end, constantly measuring and building trust is critical.
  4.  Success is dependent upon a high tolerance and respect for process (group decision-making, getting everyone up to speed and on board, negotiating a common language, adding new partners, recognizing the value and contribution of each partner, building relationships, etc.).
  5. Nested networks are a key to resilience and support.

More great information can be found by reading the entire report Creating Change in the Food System: The Role of Regional Food Networks in Iowa.

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