Fresh Taste helps develop strategy and secure resources for member-championed initiatives. Fresh Taste serves as a think tank for members championing new initiatives by conducting research, helping to educate foundation staff and trustees, developing strategy, engaging community groups around the work, and securing additional resources. Examples include:
Green Healthy Neighborhood Plan: Englewood 2009
Fresh Taste member Kathy Dickhut, Deputy Commissioner at City of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, championed the development of an urban agriculture district along an abandoned rail line in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. Fresh Taste staff worked with organizations in the Englewood neighborhood to engage more stakeholders in urban agriculture work, securing funding in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust from the Convergence Partnership for two years of support for the organizing work to improve the built environment and food production infrastructure in Englewood.
Fresh Taste staff provided support to members Renee Michaels of Kinship Foundation and Michael Davidson of The Chicago Community Trust in the development of Food:Land:Opportunity – Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a multi-year, multi-million dollar initiative of The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust designed to strengthen the resiliency of our region by increasing the supply of local and sustainable food. Fresh Taste staff provided strategic input and helped facilitate conversations between experts and trustees about the conservation and economic development impact of the local food sector in the Chicago region.
Regional Food System Study
Brad Leibov, president of the Liberty Prairie Foundation, invited Fresh Taste staff to participate in a collaborative initiative with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Openlands, and Michigan State University to develop a food asset inventory of the Chicago region. Fresh Taste provided strategic input on the scope of work, and continues to be closely involved in the project development. The study is being funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust..
East Central Illinois Asset Inventory
The Lumpkin Family Foundation enlisted Fresh Taste staff to conduct a food system asset inventory of their sixteen-county service area in East Central Illinois. East Central Illinois: A Place to Grow played an important role in the Lumpkin Family Foundation’s strategic planning process, which resulted in a stronger focus on local food system work, Land, Health, Community. In follow-up to this new focus, Fresh Taste facilitated three community meetings in 2016 throughout the Lumpkin Family Foundation’s service area to deepen conversation around elements of the strategy that could result in future proposals.
Agricultural Surplus Capture, 2015–present
Agricultural surplus capture is of interest to both the Lumpkin Family Foundation and the Emergency Food System Working Group of the Illinois Commission to End Hunger, on which Karen serves. Fresh Taste assisted in the development of several proposals to seek funding for a statewide program
Urban Agriculture Study Group, 2013-present
Chuck Wolf of the Walter S. Mander Foundation requested Fresh Taste staff’s help in convening a study group on the business potential of urban agriculture in 2013. Fresh Taste convened a series of conversations with local and national experts, including representatives from the University of Wisconsin Extension, the City of Chicago, Kinship Foundation and Cedar Tree Foundation, to explore urban agriculture’s potential contribution to neighborhood economies. The group determined that there is great value in community building and consumer education, and that effective business models are still evolving. Starting in 2015, several Fresh Taste members began meeting on a bi-monthly basis to strategize about promoting growth and identifying barriers in Chicago urban agriculture and community gardening.
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