Building the Regional Food System

Fresh Taste convenes stakeholders to build the regional food system field. Fresh Taste partners with public, private and nonprofit organizations to convene meetings intended to deepen knowledge about important food system issues and create opportunities for networking, as a precursor to deeper collaborative work. Examples include:

Fresh Taste staff and members of the Illinois Farmers Market Association at the Fresh Taste office during You Get What You Measure, 2013

Fresh Taste staff and members of the Illinois Farmers Market Association at the Fresh Taste office during You Get What You Measure, 2013

You Get What You Measure® workshops 2014
Fresh Taste facilitated a two-part workshop for Illinois Farmers Market Association (IFMA) board members, demonstrating the Yellow Wood Associates’ You Get What You Measure® method of strategic planning. Participants learned how to create goals; identify conditions that indicate progress toward a goal; establish measures for tracking goals; and develop action plans – an approach that IFMA continues to use in its effort to more tightly-coordinate activity statewide.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food 2012, 2013, and 2014
Over the last several years Fresh Taste has worked with USDA and Illinois Farm Bureau to organize annual convenings focused on USDA programs and policies. These convenings give diverse stakeholders the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge on the role that USDA plays in supporting local food systems. Topics covered thus far include: successful local food system models, USDA grant programs, and key Farm Bill provisions.

Chicago Urban Agriculture Practitioners, 2009 and 2010
Fresh Taste partnered with urban agriculture groups to convene several meetings of urban agriculture practitioners in 2009 and 2010 to explore opportunities for greater collaboration. Fresh Taste provided support for a strategic planning consultant who helped Advocates for Urban Agriculture develop an organizational structure for a steering committee and working committees which it still uses to manage the 800-member association.

Locally grown carrots from Growing Power cleaned, sliced and ready to be eaten by Chicago Public School students.

Locally grown carrots from Growing Power cleaned, sliced and ready to be eaten by Chicago Public School students.

Locally grown carrots from Growing Power delivered to Chicago Public School

Locally grown carrots from Growing Power delivered to Chicago Public School

Illinois Farm to School, 2009
In collaboration with Seven Generations Ahead, the Healthy Schools Campaign, and the National Farm to School Network, Fresh Taste convened twenty-five farm-to-school advocates in Bloomington, Illinois to initiate exploration of interest, capacity and purpose for statewide farm to school organizing in Illinois. Participants looked at examples of other statewide organizing models and discussed the assets and challenges of farm to school coordination our own state.  The meeting resulted in identification of a National Farm to School lead, Julia Govis, who was subsequently housed in University of Illinois Extension.

University and community colleges, 2009
At the Allerton Park Retreat Center, twenty-seven representatives of community college and state universities came together to focus on how higher education can play a role in supporting local food systems. At that time, it was clear that each system had significant assets to offer local food practitioners, but that these assets were not connected. People who attended and co-convened this gathering were later instrumental in developing the successful funding strategy for the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) which was a significant initiative in the Illinois’ community college system.

Discussing land tenure issues at Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living near Pembroke, IL

Farmer training and land protection, 2008
Fresh Taste organized two meetings to bring farmer training and land protection practitioners together, the first more from the perspective of farmer training, and the second, from the perspective of land protection. Each session was centered on some core questions:  What would a seamless approach to farmer training and land tenure look like? What tools are available?  What doesn’t exist yet? What are the assets we’re working with? Subsequent to these conversations:

  • The Liberty Prairie Foundation and Angelic Organics Learning Center joined with the Michael Fields Sustainable Agriculture Institute in a successful proposal for a USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Training Grant.
  • Openlands made a greater commitment to incorporating local food in its land conservation work

 

Return to Our Work with Community overview