International Day of Peasant’s Struggle, April 17

The peasant movement, La Via Campesina is a bright light in the darkness that is spreading with global corporations controlling more and more of the natural resources across the world. This loose confederation of actions and organizations has its feet solidly in the food sovereignty movement, which I think U.S. activists should identify as our chief food system goal, rather than food security. Food security (availability of good food for all) is important, but more important is when it happens where the local community decides how, when and where to feed itself which is what food sovereignty encompasses.

“The international peasants’ movement La Via Campesina has been defending and expanding the practice and policies of food sovereignty around the world for 20 years. To launch another 20 years of struggle, we are calling for a massive mobilisation day on 17 April, the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles, to reclaim our food system which is being increasingly occupied by transnational capital. We invite everyone to organise activities, protests, art exhibitions, direct actions, discussions, film screenings, farmers markets etc., in your village, school, office, neighbourhood, organisation, community…”

Wherever you are, join this collective celebration on 17 April!

At the World Food Summit in 1996, La Via Campesina (LVC) launched a concept that both challenged the corporate dominated, market driven model of globalised food production and distribution, as well as offering a new paradigm to fight hunger and poverty by developing and strengthening local economies. Since then, food sovereignty has captured the imagination of people the world over – including many governments and multilateral institutions – and has become a global rallying cry for those committed to social, environmental, economic and political justice. Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations. Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.

Governance case study

In 2012, I did an introductory set of case studies on market structure to begin to get some good information to markets that are struggling with their founding or expansion.
The case studies that I did were of markets that had offered to share their background and systems with me that covered some regularly used types of governance.
However, I would like to stress that often when markets ask for help with their governance, what they really need is help designing appropriate management systems. In other words, if the market community has the ability to understand and even help decide on rules and decisions and manages its organizational risks well, then I often have to conclude that the governance is fine (although sometimes the pool of available advisors to serve is too small or maybe the work is as not clearly defined as it needs to be). What is more often in flux is the design of the management job and a market’s planning for project design.
It is clear that consultants need to have more options for management to match the many types of markets that exist. On top of that, how a market decides on projects to undertake every year should be more comprehensive than a manager’s good idea and willingness of volunteers to help.
I expect to do some work on management systems and project design in 2013 and to be able to share new resources. Until then, take a look at the Market Governance Case Study Report:
HPMG-MG report

Back to Burlington

The late winter and spring are mad times for a farmers market consultant. The numbers of workshops and conferences has doubled or tripled in the last few years and every year since 2005 or so, I have been honored to be asked to present at 4 to 10 state or national convenings. I very much appreciate the opportunity to work with many market and market advocates at one time and to hear about new ideas and to meet some of those names I read from reports and posts on listserves.
In January, I spoke at NOFA-VT’s Direct Marketing Conference for the second year and I must say it’s a favorite of mine-a great mix of market organizers, farmers and agencies. Very focused and well attended. NOFA does an extremely professional job putting this on without showing the blood, sweat and maybe even tears, but knowing them its probably blood, sweat and laughs…
Part of why I went there was to conduct interviews with farmers and market operators to ensure their point of view is included within the state feasibility report that I am doing for NOFA and VAAFM (Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets) on their EBT, WIC, FMNP systems and what steps it would take to build a comprehensive and universal system for their markets. (And no, I don’t ski or participate in winter sports so outdoor fun doesn’t factor in….)
Unfortunately, my schedule, vendors winter flu and other issues prevented me from getting enough interviews, so I decided to come back and to buttonhole some more folks at the other conference I have heard about from many Vermonters-NOFA’s Winter Conference. Workshops, TED talks, a multitude of different points of views from producers to “eaters” and a seed swap among many other things.
If you’re nearby and can make it, you might want to register and check it out for yourself. If you’re further away, you might want to download their brochure and put one on in your town.

How to Win Grants from Private Foundations


  • 2:00 pm EST
  • DURATION: 60 minutes


As governments cut back and donors get more selective, more and more nonprofits are turning to private foundations for support.

But attracting private foundation money is very different than seeking corporate aid or federal and state grants.

To learn how you can stand out from the competition and understand what foundations are seeking, join The Chronicle of Philanthropy for a Webinar that features insights from a veteran program officer who has reviewed thousands of proposals over the last decade. Tobi Printz-Platnick of the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation will offer practical advice for increasing your odds of success, shed light on how foundations make their decisions, and show you how to talk about your organization’s weaknesses as well as its strengths.

You’ll also hear from a fundraising consultant and author, John Hicks, who will explain how to build strong ties to program officers, demonstrate that your work aligns with a foundation’s mission, and set your organization apart from the competition.

What Will You Learn?
  • Tips for ensuring you give foundations the information they want.
  • Do’s and Don’ts for your next grant proposal
  • Strategies for improving your odds of winning support
Who Should Attend?
  • Grant-proposal writers
  • Chief development officers, development directors, and fundraisers
  • Executive directors and board members
Tobi  Printz-Platnick

Program Officer

Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

John  Hicks


J.C. Geever, Inc.

DAWN Launches Rural Worker Cooperatives Assistance Program | Democracy at Work Network

I do think that one of the emerging trends that is coming to community food system work – especially markets – will be worker cooperatives. Take advantage of the excellent peer work that DAWN offers to learn more about this and to assist rural farmers and producers in your area.

DAWN Launches Rural Worker Cooperatives Assistance Program | Democracy at Work Network.

Overview of Paid Market Manager Positions

I am posting a link to analysis of market manager positions that I did for an organization in Maine.
It was meant to be a simple overview of the types of paid positions that exist in the market world and certainly could be and should be expanded in the future.

HPMG resource site

2 loops diagram

Absolutely one of my favorite presentations. I believe in a systems approach to my work so how I decide what I work on has a lot to do with how that project could be replicated or how organizing skills would be furthered with my input. This presentation-a version that I saw at Kellogg F&S meeting 5 years or so ago-was a real eye opener for me as a movement builder. I hope it is the same for you.

Two Loops: How Systems Change from The Berkana Institute on Vimeo.

Local First Webinar Series | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

BALLE is one of my go-to organizations, partly because their deep reservoirs of knowledge come from localized economy leaders, rather than some academic institution or a centralized big-city NGO. Therefore, their knowledge and growth seems to be thoughtful and they advance real ideas. Their webinars are done well and the next two focus on local procurement in government contracts.

Local First Webinar Series | BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.

FMC winter webinar schedule

News from Farmers Market Coalition:

We are about to send out the market beet, our Autumn newsletter, and it includes a pretty fantastic lineup of webinar topics and experts. To expedite the approval process for our webinars, we are asking that people use their member # in the registration form.

And, here is the schedule:

FMC capacity building webinars take place on the second Tuesday of every month, unless otherwise noted. Webinars are for FMC members and provide an opportunity for interactive learning and skill development from experts in the field.

November- Purpose Defined: Developing a Market Mission Statement
November 13, 2012, 1 pm eastern
Presenter- Darlene Wolnik, Independent Researcher and Trainer – Community Food Systems
and FMC Market Programs Advisor
Moderator- Jen O’Brien, Interim Executive Director, Farmers Market Coalition

Read More and Register Today!

December: Event Fundraiser Success Stories
December 11, 2012, 1 pm eastern
Presenters- multiple farmers market managers including:
Megan McBride, manager, Easton Farmers Market, PA
Donita Anderson, executive director, North Union Farmers Market, OH
Moderator- Leslie Schaller, director, ACEnet

January: Vendor Stories: Vendor perspectives on Market Organization
January 8, 2013, 1 pm eastern
Presenters- Multiple direct marketing farmers

February: The Power of POP: Oregon City presents their children’s market program
February 12, 2013, 1pm eastern.
Presenters- Jackie Hammond Williams, market manager, Oregon City Farmers Market
Natalie Roper, FMC intern, student, UVA- replicating POP in Charlottesville, VA

March: Farmers Market Promotion Program evaluation
March 12, 2013 1pm eastern
Presenters- Stacy Miller, Farmers Market Coalition

Also in early 2013
Farmers Market Coalition member meeting
~and~ 2013 FMPP application process

Dry farming in a drought era

Olive and grape growers have used this technique for thousands of years. Now, farmers are expanding this approach for “tomatoes, pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes, winter squash, olives, garbanzos, apricots, apples, various grains, and potatoes” – all crops that are successfully dry farmed in California. For example, apples were traditionally dry farmed in western Sonoma County. While the fruit size was smaller, the yields were good and most of the fruit went for processing where size is unimportant. There are probably many more such examples.
From the article: Dry farming is not a yield maximization strategy; rather it allows nature to dictate the true sustainability of agricultural production in a region. David Little, a Sonoma vegetable grower who says he at times gets only a quarter of the yield of his competitors, describes dry farming as “a soil tillage technique, the art of working the soil; starting as early as possible when there is a lot of moisture in the soil, working the ground, creating a sponge-like environment so that the water comes from down below, up into the sponge. You press it down with a roller or some other implement to seal the top…so the water can’t evaporate and escape out.”

See the case studies section in the article for some examples of growers that dry farm such crops in California.