Meet up with APA-FIG at the National APA Conference May 6-9, 2017

The Food Interest Group, a group of APA members and allied professionals, is dedicated to advancing food systems planning at the local, regional, state, or national level.

Here’s a sneak peak of the food system sessions happening: Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food; Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food; Growing Food Connections for Community Change; Developing Vermont’s Food System through Planning; Safe, Active Routes to Healthy Food. If you come early, check out the mobile tour on May 5—Hudson Valley Local Agriculture and Foodshed.

Meet up with APA-FIG at the National APA Conference May 6-9, 2017! – APA-FIG

Vt Farmers Market Conference

 

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Up next: New Orleans, Vermont, Massachusetts

Over the last ten years, my travel schedule has remained pretty constant in the late winter and spring: a.k.a. farmers market/agricultural conference season. Sometimes it means that I am leaving New Orleans during Carnival season, (or my fav festival event) the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival or just at the loveliest time of year. Still, I am honored to be invited to participate in so many market development workshops and say yes to as many as I can manage.

This year my conference travel has taken me to North Carolina, Atlanta and Illinois and next up are three meetings, two in places I know and love, and one new to me:

New Orleans: AFRI-funded “Indicators for Impact” project team/market pilot sites meeting.

Vermont: NOFA-VT Farmers Market meeting

Massachusetts: Mass Farmers Markets meeting

• In New Orleans, I will serve as the host team member and support the FMC team in presentations, facilitating open discussion among participating markets and in absorbing those markets feedback on their first year of gathering and compiling data. This University of Wisconsin-led research is informing the development of Farmers Market Metrics.

• In Vermont, I return for the 5th or 6th year to support my colleague Erin Buckwalter in her work at NOFA-VT to build capacity for direct marketing outlets and to support VFMA. I’ll be presenting some retail anthropology techniques for markets to consider when refreshing their markets. Sounds like I’ll also be called on to facilitate a open session on EBT issues, which should be helpful to the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at the Vermont Law School (CAFS). The students are leading the design of a Legal Market Toolkit along with project partners NOFA-VT and FMC. Exciting stuff coming out of this project, I promise.

• Final stop of the season is to one of the most established state associations and to work with one of the longest serving state leaders, Jeff Cole. I remember well that in the formation days of Farmers Market Coalition, our Market Umbrella E.D. always came back from those meetings with great respect for Jeff’s input. Since then, I have called on him to offer analysis in some of my projects (shout out to some of my other informal advisor mainstays: Stacy Miller, Amy Crone, Sarah Blacklin, Ben Burkett, Colleen Donovan, Copper Alvarez, Kelly Verel, Suzanne Briggs, Helena St. Jacques, Richard McCarthy, Beth Knorr, Leslie Schaller, Jean Hamilton, Paul Freedman, Devona Sherwood  along with a whole bunch of others..)   Jeff has asked me to do an overview on market measurement history (RMA, SEED, PPS audits) and recent evolutions like FM Tracks, Demonstrating Value, and of course Farmers Market Metrics.

So, keep yourself busy on other blogs while I sit in meetings, learning and sharing for the next few weeks. And if you are attending any of these meetings, please say hello and share your news or ideas with me. Maybe it’ll be the next best practice that I post on my return to these pages.

 

 

 

A summit for us: Atlanta 2016

A whirlwind of a week in Atlanta with Wholesome Wave and its “surfers”: markets, market advocates and food system organizers. Held at the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta GA, just down the road a block or two from the CDC offices. WW did a great job with the week: well-organized, great food and drink (thumbs up for the smoothies available each day) and plenty of space for networking and meetings. Atlanta was lovely and the rare off-site food and drink I had was excellent, but I gotta say that the traffic is as unholy of a mess as I have experienced in any US city. Talk about needing a quality of life intervention!

Highlights for the Summit for me included:

The WW Georgia market shopper who turned to good food to beat her cancer; she was charming in telling a very personal story on a panel and brave to share her still-emotional reaction to using SNAP, even while sharing her appreciation for the program.

Organizing for State Nutrition Incentive Policies : all of the presenters had unique input on their state’s strategy: Ecology Center (CA), Experimental Station (IL), Maryland Farmers Market Association and New Mexico Farming Market Association. This group: Martin, Connie, Amy and Denise have a lot to contribute to any discussion of how to move the dial at the state level.  Check out their varied work on their respective websites and if you have a chance to buttonhole any of them at a conference, tell them I told you to do it. And the short answer is to have a creative and flexible strategy that includes how to pay for it and a constant champion in your statehouse.

Clinic-Community Initiatives-Pathways to Sustainability: what I got out of this session was one of those unintended consequences: the analysis that MANNA has done of their program as a handout was one that responded to a question that our new FMC Research and Education Director Alex Canepa had just been asking earlier that day: can we get data that actually indicates positive health changes from medical nutrition therapy  strategies that offset traditional medical costs? See the Examining Health Care Costs Among MANNA Clients and a Comparison Group report…

The Role of Technology in Supporting Nutrition Incentives: For those of us gamely working on technology solutions for markets that support the range of no-tech, low-tech to high-tech markets out there, this was an in-depth and honest conversation. I sincerely appreciated Darcy Freedman from Case Western Reserve University talking about how the tool is half of the puzzle; the TA is the other half.

Measuring the Impact of Vouchers at Farmers Markets: I think the title threw some people off this one as well as the description. This covered the evaluation being done by University of Delaware/CRESP and led by Allison Karpyn on the incentives and vouchers funded by WW. Her powerpoint is available to those who request it (check with them or with WW) and I’d recommend that you get a copy. Allison shared some of the early data and was game to listen to input from the attendees about what they thought about it so far.

Measuring Markets Economic, Ecological, Human and Social Capital: Of course I chose this one. FMC Project Director Sara Padilla led the show, but Jen Cheek also popped up to add some updates on how FMC is embedding this into FMSSG reporting and she managed the lively Q&A as I roamed the room and made some notes for later conversations based on those questions. We had hoped to role play some of the training materials/exercises that will be embedded within FMM in this hour, but the room, the late hour and the lack of actual market leaders attending meant a quick change to describing it only and instead spent time sharing our thoughts on the components of grassroots evaluation, which seemed to be a good choice.  As I shared later with the rest of the FMC team, I think grassroots evaluation work is evolving slowly but surely and our work in this area seems to be helpful to markets and to their partners.

The FMC team also spent some time with the WW evaluation team  (shout out to Katie and Elizabeth for finding the time between their many conference duties), continuing to find ways to streamline and support both portals without duplication. I can tell you we are all committed to that goal….

Lastly, I left feeling that I just saw and heard and met a whole bunch of people who are doing some excellent network level work in their states. It felt like it has only at a few moments in the last 10 years: that there is some sensible support for contextual strategies for increasing access at markets, and some help to use that support to change policies for markets and their direct marketing producers. But, also an awareness that there is danger in markets or networks in diving in the too-deep water before they are ready, before they have a plan for what this extra work is meant to do for their markets and how it will absorb it. Because what we know is to attempt that before examining the culture of the market or the willingness of the market leadership to invest years in this type of intervention is foolhardy*. I’d also point out how that the lack of production-side advocates in attendance to talk about how these strategies were changing regional food production (for the good and for the bad) jarred me slightly and I’ll hope for better participation at future summits.

(*…. for all of those uncertainties here is the process to change them:  market communities becoming true partners in the design of their projects, taking the time to work with their community in this process long before the funding starts, leading or sharing in the data collection process as well as in the analysis of that project and beyond that, being brave about seeking and sharing evidence of all of the market’s impacts. And if that is where your community is at, I can tell you that there are some people ready and willing to do just that, many of whom I just saw in Atlanta.)

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Technology session, FMC’s Jen Cheek asking another good question from the floor

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WW’s Katie Merritt, chatting with FMC’s Sara Padilla and Alex Canepa pictured. WW’s Elizabeth Atwell  (back of her head showing), Jen Cheek and yours truly also present

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Allison Karpyn’s incentive evaluation presentation

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FMC’s FMM presentation

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FMC’s audience involvement spectrum

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One of only 2 off-site meals, this one had with WW’s Gabrielle Langholtz who sang Hamilton the musical songs to the waiter. Not odd behavior if you know her…

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The food we ordered off that chalkboard menu; all great.

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The dog that came with my airbnb, Sadie, wondering why I am leaving so early on a cold day..

 

WW 2016 Early Bird Special closes Friday

Transforming Food Access
The Early Bird Special for the 2016 Transforming Food Access Summit closes in two days, this Friday, November 20th. If you’ve already signed up, we look forward to seeing you there. Otherwise, don’t miss out. Register before the 20th with the code EARLYBIRD2016, to receive a $75 discount on registration costs!

We are pleased to share an outstanding array of speakers, panelists, and contributors for this year’s summit, including featured speaker, Kevin Concannon, the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at USDA.

Join a host of speakers from respected organizations in the field: Ecology Center, Fair Food Network, Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Fresh Approach, Common Market, DC Central Kitchen, DC Greens, Eat SF, The Food Trust, Hartford Food System, Health Care Without Harm, Maine Farmland Trust, Union of Concerned Scientists, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, and many more. To see the comprehensive agenda, click here.

We are also happy to announce that on the evening of Monday, January 11, Wholesome Wave Founder & CEO, Chef Michel Nischan, and his local Atlanta friends, Hugh Acheson, Linton Hopkins, and Anne Quatrano, will host a “Chefs’ Potluck” welcome reception at the Floataway Cafe. We are thrilled to have these award-winning chefs who are dedicated to local, sustainable food join us that evening. There’s limited availability and tickets will be available on a first come first serve basis for Summit attendees.

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We would like to extend a thank you to our sponsors, Fresh Sound Foundation and Farm Credit Council, for their generous support of this year’s summit.

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And finally, a special thank you to Wholesome Wave Georgia for their hospitality and advice.

Please contact programs@wholesomewave.org with any questions. For periodic updates, sign up for Summit emails on our website.

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2015 Growing Food and Justice for All Chicago 9/25-9/27

Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 1:00 PM – Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM (CDT)

Chicago, IL

The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative is excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2015 Gathering:
They have a limited number of scholarships available this year that are available on a first come first serve basis. Please see the eventbrite page for more details.
See you in Chicago!