Our monthly NGFN interactive webinars give you the opportunity to learn and connect with on-the-ground practitioners and experts. Below you'll find archives of past webinars available for viewing, and information and registration for upcoming webinars.
Please note: NGFN webinars take place the third Thursday of each month, 3:30-4:45 ET (unless otherwise noted).
Putting Local on the Menu: Five Best Practices and a Cost Calculator Training - Register Now!
Thursday, September 4, 2014 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM ET
Several institutional cafeterias and mid-priced restaurants are using clever techniques to source substantial amounts of local food, while maintaining their own affordability and profitability. This webinar, led by Anthony Flaccavento, will present the results ofSCALE Inc.'s research into how these kitchens are successfully putting local on the menu, while staying within their tight budgets.
Prioritizing local food while keeping costs reasonable is part art, and part science. This webinar honors that by illustrating some of the art with case studies, while presenting the 'science' in the form of a new tool.
The first half of the webinar reveals five best practices that showed up across SCALE's study. The driving forces behind The Root Café (Little Rock, AR) and Carlton College (Northfield, MN) will illustrate how they are using each of these techniques to get significant quantities of local food into their kitchens.
The second half of the webinar presents a tool, developed by SCALE, Inc. that enables buyers and local foods advocates to accurately determine the cost of local buying down to the level of per plate or menu item costs. We will step you through how and why to use this tool.
Free! Register now!
Food Hub Benchmarking Study 2014 - Register Now!
Thursday, September 25, 2014 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM ET
Food Hubs are delivering on their promise of enabling identity-preserved, primarily local and regional food to enter the wholesale market, enabling small and mid-sized farms access to buyers that would otherwise be unattainable.
But aggregation and distribution of food is a very thin-margin business, and hubs take on additional expense working with smaller farmers, providing technical assistance, and other grower and community services. Are food hubs able to support themselves with their operations? What are industry-standard financial and operational benchmarks for food hub businesses?
The NGFN Food Hub Collaboration, through our partners at Farm Credit East, Farm Credit Council and Morse Marketing Connections, has collected and analyzed financial and operational data from dozens of hubs across the country, creating the second food hub benchmarking study. The pilot 2013 study showed good promise for our methodology, and this year's study has several times the number of participants, giving us a much better picture of how food hubs operate.
This webinar describes the lessons learned from the recent benchmarking study of food hub financial and operational characteristics. The presentation highlights how successful food hubs across the nation have achieved their mission and goals through financial and business metrics.
Understanding this study will benefit all manner of people interested in regional food systems. For instance, food hub operators will be able to identify performance standards and improvement strategies. Farmers who attend the webinar will gain a better understanding of their ability to access new markets through food hubs, and researchers and local food advocacy organizations will benefit from this webinar’s business-based analysis of food hub functions and operational issues. Private lenders and public sector funders will gain insight on strategic investment strategies for food hubs that will lead to positive economic and sustainable outcomes.
Free! Register now!
- August: Ins-TRUCK-tion Manual: Lease, Buy, or Other?
- July: Making IT Click: Choosing Appropriate Technology to Run Your Good Food Business
- June: Community-Based Food Business Financing
- April: Net Value: An Innovative Approach to the Seafood Supply Chain
- February: Build, Prepare, Invest: Assessing Food Hub Businesses for Investment Readiness
- December: Food Banks as Regional "Good Food" Partners
- November: Assessment Tools for Improving Farmer Financial Skills
- October 23, 2013: FSMA Comments for Food Hubs - an NGFN Food Hub Collaboration webinar
- October: Food Hubs and Farm to School
- September: State of the Food Hub - National Survey Results
- August 15: Pathways to Food Hub Success: Financial Benchmark Metrics and Measurements for Regional Food Hubs
- August 2: Roadmap for City Food Sector Innovation and Investment
- June: Raising Dough for Food Businesses
- May: Starting a Food Hub: Successful Hubs Share Their Stories
- April 25: Opportunity Knocks: Two Underutilized USDA Programs For Supporting Local and Regional Food Systems
- April 18: Local Meats Processing: Successes and Innovations
- March: One Page Risk Management Plan
- February 21: On-farm Food Safety and Access to Larger Markets
- February 5: National Food Hub Studies - an NGFN Food Hub Collaboration webinar
- January: Production Planning to Increase Market Efficiency: Reducing Financial Risk Through Food Hubs
- November: Market-Based Models for Increasing Access to Healthy Food: Defining What Works
- October: If You Build It ... Will They Come? Consumer Behavior Concepts for Effective Marketing of Healthy Food
- September: Food Systems Networks That Work - Accelerating Learning and Increasing Commerce
- July: Grass-Based Dairy
- June: Grass-Based Beef: The Business Case
- May 31: The One Page Business Plan and One Page Financial Plan
- May 17: The CSA Benchmark Project: How Well Is My Operation REALLY Doing?
- March 15: Harvesting Investment Dollars from the 99%: Cutting Edge Ways to Fund Your Food Business
- March 8: USDA & Regional Food Systems:
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
- February: The Price Point Conundrum - How the Sustainable Farmer Can Afford Her Own Tomato
- January: It's Viable ... Now What? From Feasibility Study to Business Plan
- November: Two Revolutionary Tools for Beginning Farmers
- October: Financing Food hubs: Dozens of Ideas
- September: The Farmer and the Dell®: Technology for Good Food
- July: Clearing the Roadblocks: Market-Based Strategies for Getting Good Food to All Communities
- June: Local Food in Retail – Two Models, One Goal
- May 19: Food Hubs: Viable Regional Distribution Solutions
- May 5: Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
- April: "Healthy" - Institutions and Consumers as Buyers of Good Food
- March: The Economics of Regional Meat - Interactive Panel Discussion
- February: The Economics of Regional Meat
- January: Want to Get Results? You Get What You Measure!
- December: Getting Banks to "Yes" with Small, Diversified Farms
- November: Leveraging Existing Infrastructure for Significant Food System Change: Food Hubs, Regional Distribution, Farm to School, and more
- October: Real Food into University Cafeterias: a Billion Dollar Challenge
- September 30: The Business of Food Hubs: Planning Successful Regional Produce Aggregation Facilities
- September 21: Food Safety Webinar: United Fresh Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative
- September 16: Towards Local and Regional Sourcing - Sysco and Chipotle
- August: Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center
- July: Building Local Government Support for Good Food
- June: School Food FOCUS
- May 6: Building Regional Food Systems, Part 2: Creating Networks and Measuring Impacts
- April: Building Regional Food Systems, Part 1: Foundational Definitions and the Northeast
- March: Linking Diverse Communities Through Healthy Food: Examples from the Southwest
- February: Third-Party Certification
- Bonus: Building the Supply of Healthy Foods – Experiences and Tools from the Field
- January: Community Food Enterprise
- December: An Introduction to the National Farm to School Network
- October: Food Safety - An Interactive Briefing
One major expense of food hubs (and many other Good Food businesses, including farms) is vehicles. How do you decide whether to lease or own? There are many expenses including repair, resale value, potential lost business due to malfunction, typical delivery miles, frequency of delivery, garage fees, etc... How do you weigh all of the financials in a clear way? Farm Credit of the Virginias and Farm Credit Council will present their tool that will give you a definitive financial answer to that question.
... and then there is a third option: neither lease nor own, but using a third-party trucking company. Though it may seem counter intuitive, there are many cases where this option is the most reliable, and the most cost effective solution. Dennis Derryck of Corbin Hill Food Project, relates their story of trying all three options, and found great efficiencies, including monetary, using a third-party logistics company.
This webinar takes you through theory and practice of making the right decision for your business.
Good Food businesses are complicated. There are many types of exchanges that a business must track accurately, including money, food, plans, etc. And there are a large number of constituents that need to these goods or information - growers, buyers, consumers, drivers, and warehouse personnel to name a few.
In the 21st century, we must use software to ensure all pieces of our business are accurately served. But how do you choose the right technology to help run your business? A solution that does not fit your business could well cost a lot of money, and worse, lost productivity.
The first step in choosing the right solution is a deep understanding of your own business. With the right analysis you can make technology choices with greater speed, and with confidence. This webinar gives you the tools to perform an accurate analysis of your business technology needs. Although the presentation focuses on food hubs (arguably one of the more complicated Good Food businesses, as a "middle man" interacting with all pieces of the food system), the same theories apply to ALL businesses.
In Austin, Texas a group of folks hungry for local food have cracked the code to access capital – looking to the community. Using a cooperative model they are continuing to innovate. Starting with the knowledge gained from such ventures as a co-op grocer, their success led them to experiment with opening a co-op brew pub. This venture has been another striking success, and are now working to open a cooperative food hub.
This webinar starts with the basics of what a co-op is, how it works, and then discusses accessing community-based capital through what is called a Member Investor Share Offering (MISO, also known as a Direct Public Offering or DPO). By leveraging the dollars from the community, they have been able to finance the start-up and beginning operations of innovative co-ops. Hear what the organizers of these businesses believe to be the secrets to their success, and some suggestions on how you might consider financing your planned operation in this way.
As a fisherman, business as usual means heading out to sea, battling the elements, catching as much as you can, and heading back inland to sell what you caught on auction. You do not know what will sell, and you do not know what price it will fetch.
As an institutional, retail or other mid-scale buyer you are also at the mercy of the auction. Budgeting is difficult, and there is generally no means to assure that the fish you are buying has the attributes you value, such as being sustainably caught, allowable bycatch, etc.
Open Ocean Trading created an innovative online marketplace, called FYSH-X, that allows buyers and sellers to trade commercially harvested and farmed seafood products in forward time. This value chain approach means that fishermen can leave the docks secure in the profitability of their trips by locking into a price and selling all or a portion of a catch in advance. And buyers are empowered by having prices they can budget for, and by being able to negotiate directly with vessels for any attributes that are important to them.
In this webinar hear the history and context of the fish trading business, and how the Open Ocean Trading marketplace works. A seller (a fisherman) and an institutional buyer speak from their perspectives about how FYSH-X has changed their businesses. And as always, we end with questions and answers.
Whether you are an investor considering making an investment in food hubs, a food hub operator preparing for an investment, or a policymaker looking to better understand the food hub sector, Wholesome Wave’s Food Hub Business Assessment Toolkit provides you with the tools to evaluate a food hub business’ readiness for investment.
In this webinar, we introduce the Food Hub Business Assessment Toolkit, which provides a framework for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of food hubs in the areas of business model and strategy, impact potential, market overview, marketing and sales, operations, organization and management, risk mitigation, technology and systems, and finance. The webinar provides an overview of the business assessment process and explore certain areas in depth, presenting Farm Fresh Rhode Island as a case study.
Wholesome Wave’s Healthy Food Commerce Investments division directs capital and business development assistance to food hubs in order to expand the channels for local food so farms can more reliably, safely, and efficiently sell product within their region to wholesale buyers and institutions like hospitals, schools, and large dining outlets.
As we look to scale up the amount of healthy, fair and sustainable local and regional food in our food system, it becomes increasingly important to have storage and delivery mechanisms capable of getting the food to consumers. This infrastructure is very expensive, and the logistics required for efficient use of the resources is very complex.
Food banks across the country have trucks and warehouse space, including cold storage, and have been solving the logistics problem for decades, however traditionally with commodity food, often processed. This is beginning to change.
Several food banks across the country are acutely aware of the benefits of fresh, local food to their consumers, and their community, and are leveraging their resources to support local/regional food systems in innovative ways. Presentations from FoodLink in New York and the Sacramento Food Bank and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
Farming is a business, but many farmers are not familiar with many of the tools available to manage their farm finances. The first crucial step to intelligent financial decisions is assessing your current situation, and understanding your historical trends.
This webinar focuses on three assessment-centered tools and programs. First, we will learn about a tool for farmer trainers themselves - to assess the strengths of the trainer’s knowledge as well as assess students’ knowledge at the outset and their subsequent progress. Second, how Annie's Project, a highly successful program for women farmers, integrates such an assessment tool as a part of the curriculum. And third, an entry level training tool that walks farmers through farm business cash flow analysis in an approachable way.
Assessment is not the end goal of beginning farmer training. However, assessment is fundamental to the success of financial skills education by providing a measurable feedback loop for improvement, adjustment, and documentation of effectiveness.
Almost all food hubs are subject to new oversight under the FDA's proposed food safety regulations. These regulations ARE ABLE TO BE CHANGED to better fit your operations, but in order for modifications to suit your needs, you must tell FDA what your needs are.
The means for affecting change is through comments to the FDA. The rules are complicated, and well-reasoned comments will be given more weight as FDA edits the rules.
This webinar is intended to give you the information you need to make a good comment so that regulations meet the need of keeping food safe, but do not seriously negatively affect your business.
Farm to school programs have been very successful at getting good, healthy, local, whole foods to our nation's students. However, some schools and districts find that their school food service professionals, who already have so many responsibilities, have limited time and resources for managing food aggregation logistics. Food hubs hold great promise to help.
In Chicago, Gourmet Gorilla focuses its operations on the school market. With convenient online ordering for schools either on a monthly or daily basis, Gourmet Gorilla offers healthy, sustainable, local food sourced from many different area suppliers. And because Gourmet Gorilla is founded on providing food with values, there is assurance that what is served to the kids is wholesome and good.
In Michigan, Cherry Capital Foods, a food hub with diverse markets, counts schools as an important one. They have had excellent successes, such as a large contract with traditional foodservice provider Chartwells, becoming a USDA approved vendor, and a partnership with a local nonprofit in a farm to school project.
These examples of food hubs enabling farm to school are sure to inspire you to consider working with your area food hubs for your work.
Food hubs - businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand – hold incredible promise for positive impacts. At the middle of the food value chain, hubs’ influence on the economy, social equity, and the environment can be great.
Proponents and detractors alike, including funders, academics and food hub managers, are seeking real data that can better explain the scope and scale of food hub activities and their influence on their regions. In early 2013, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems in cooperation with the Wallace Center at Winrock International surveyed over 100 food hubs across the country to understand their businesses, their impacts and their challenges. Join us for this webinar as we present the State of the Food Hub.Key findings from the report will be presented including:
- The operating structures that food hubs have taken on
- Food hub’s employee and management profiles
- Information about food hub producers and customers
- Information regarding the financial status of food hubs
- Major challenges and barriers to growth faced by food hubs
Food Hubs strengthen regional food systems by supplying local foods to schools, hospitals, restaurants and other institutions, as well as directly to consumers. Their aggregation, sales, and distribution activity increases farm-gate demand for local foods, creating new markets for small producers.
But are food hubs economically sustainable? Can food hubs do well by doing good?
This webinar describes the lessons learned from the recent benchmarking study of food hub financial and operational characteristics. The presentation highlights how successful food hubs across the nation have achieved their mission and goals through financial and business metrics.
Understanding this landmark study will benefit all manner of people interested in regional food systems. For instance, food hub operators will be able to identify performance standards and improvement strategies. Farmers who attend the webinar will gain a better understanding of their ability to access new markets through food hubs, and researchers and local food advocacy organizations will benefit from this webinar’s business-based analysis of food hub functions and operational issues. Private lenders and public sector funders will gain insight on strategic investment strategies for food hubs that will lead to positive economic and sustainable outcomes.
The National Good Food Network Food Hub Benchmarking Study team includes the Farm Credit Council, Farm Credit East, Morse Marketing Connections, and the Wallace Center at Winrock International.
Local governments are increasingly interested in developing their local food systems to realize both local economic and job creation benefits and also public health, environmental and social benefits. But where and how to invest are often challenging questions for cities to answer.
This webinar explores a new set of tools developed by the Wallace Center and Changing Tastes, in partnership with the City and County of San Francisco and Cities of Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. This project was funded through the Innovation Fund of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a Project of the Global Philanthropy Partnership through the support of the Surdna and Summit Foundations.
The Roadmap and toolset provide cities with guidance for developing a local foods investment strategy and selecting the best investment opportunities to create new jobs and strengthen local businesses, while also increasing a community’s access to healthy, local and sustainably grown foods. The Roadmap outlines steps to establish a local vision, inventory and map their food assets and gaps, evaluate investment options and manage financial risk, as well as select municipal policies and initiatives that can improve the success of local food entrepreneurs and local businesses. In addition to the Roadmap contents, the webinar also presents a review of the range of local economic benefits of conventional and innovative food businesses found during the project’s comprehensive scan of local and national economic data on job creation and business viability in the food sector.
Presenters include Diana Sokolove, Food Systems Policy Manager with the City and County of San Francisco Planning Department, and Gayle Prest, Sustainability Director for the City of Minneapolis, both of whom served as city leads on the project and are members of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, along with Dr. John Fisk of the Wallace Center and Cynthia Pansing, CEO and Principal Partner of Changing Tastes.
Is lack of access to capital really a problem for food businesses that are solving social and environmental problems?
There are more types of capital than ever before to support food businesses... but many don't know they exist, they can be challenging to access and even more, it’s hard to tell which type will be the best for each business
Elizabeth Ü, author of “Raising Dough” (order now), will provide a helpful framework for thinking about appropriate financing sources for enterprises, sensitive to their unique values, priorities, and where they are in the business lifecycle. Her presentation is designed primarily for organizations that work with socially responsible food businesses, such as people who work for nonprofits, government offices, economic development companies, consulting firms, lenders, foundations, family offices. Of course the same principles apply to fundraising entrepreneurs themselves, who will leave with lots of tools to work with in their quest to raise money.
Gray Harris, of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), a community development finance institution (CDFI) in Maine, will give some detailed, illustrative examples of their investments, and investment strategies in regional food systems.
Join us on this webinar to learn to “Raise Dough” for food businesses.
Food hubs hold great promise for a myriad of positive community impacts - economic development and job creation, farmland preservation, environmental sustainability... the list goes on.
But how do you start a food hub?
This webinar brings together the stories of the formation and first year of three different, successful food hubs. Our presenters share some of the best decisions they made … and some of the worst. What types of contacts did they feel really helped their business to thrive? How much money did they need, and how did they get it? Why did they choose their incorporation status? And more...
If you are an emerging hub - in the planning stages - or work with groups who are considering forming a food hub, please listen to this webinar for inspiration and instruction.
Are you a for-profit business, a nonprofit, or a state, local or tribal government looking to finance a local or regional food system project? Listen to this webinar to learn about two USDA programs you may never have heard of: the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee program and the Community Facilities Loan and Grant program. USDA Rural Development can provide significant funding and technical assistance for local and regional food system infrastructure – and applications are being accepted now. Learn from USDA program experts and recipients who have successfully used these programs on this webinar.
Special guest: Kathleen Merrigan, outgoing Deputy Secretary of USDA and a champion of local and regional food systems.
Local meat and poultry can’t get to market without a processor, but processors are pulled in many directions: Farmers would like more processing options, the kind of processing needed depends on the market the regulations are complex regulations, and even with premium-priced meats, the profit margins are slim.
So how can local meat processing survive ... and even thrive? Lauren Gwin and Arion Thiboumery, co-founders and co-coordinators of the national Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, will share the results of their research on this topic, featuring innovations and lessons learned from successful processors around the country.
We’ll also hear from several regional support efforts to improve access to local processing: Kathleen Harris, of the Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company; Casey McKissick, of NC Choices and the Carolina Meat Conference; and Chelsea Bardot Lewis, of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Vermont Meat Processing Task Force.
The full research report will be released the day of the webinar - be among the first to ask your questions of the investigators!
You probably know that business and financial planning can increase the financial performance of your farm, help you understand your business by being able to compare it to similar businesses, reduce your financial risk, increase your time efficiency, and improve your operation in other ways.
So why aren’t you planning?
Chances are you would like to make plans for your future, but it’s difficult to understand where to begin. This webinar gives you three powerful, yet simple tools to begin the planning process for your farm. Each tool is just one page, but employing them will clarify your vision of your business, enable you to make well-considered financial decisions, and cut through confusion of what to do next when presented with day-to-day challenges.
This webinar explains the theory and take you through how one farm might use these tools to focus and succeed in farming.
On-farm food safety is on the mind of those looking to support the success of small and mid-sized, sustainable producers. We dig into two cutting edge issues:
More and more wholesale and institutional buyers are requiring on-farm food safety certification, making these markets extremely difficult to participate in for smaller farmers due to the expense of GAP auditing. The Wallace Center is working with USDA to identify and run several pilots at food hubs of a group GAP approach. Instead of the current "one farm, one audit" protocol, participants in a group GAP audit have their shared food safety system audited, and are audited as one body. This method opens markets to producers who would otherwise be priced out.
The Food and Drug Administration just released two proposed rules outlining new standards for produce safety and preventive controls for food processing and manufacturing. These two rules, along with existing food safety regimes, create a maze of challenges for the development and growth of local and regional food systems. Learn about the new proposed rules, models for addressing food safety, and how to get involved in supporting sustainable food systems and safe food.
- Steve Warshawer, NGFN Food Safety Coordinator
- Ariane Lotti, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Did you know that the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration is embarking on a national survey AND a benchmarking study on food hubs? Both will benefit food hubs' profitability, and provide funders and investors with valuable information for effective capital infusion.
Participating in the national food hub survey helps to ensure your voice is heard so that funders, policy makers, and lenders understand your needs, and better understand the benefits food hubs provide to our communities. Your responses also help us to discover paths to efficiency and profitability, and prove to investors that food hubs are solid triple-bottom line businesses.
By participating in the national food hub survey you also enter yourself into a drawing for free consulting or gift cards!
A benchmarking study allows a glimpse into the books of similar businesses. As a food hub, once the benchmarking study is complete, you will be able to compare the inner financial workings of your hub with your peers' hubs. You will get a sense, for instance, for if your payroll expenses are above average, or if your infrastructure is less expensive than the average.
This special "mini" webinar describes these studies, and how you can help improve the world's understanding of food hubs, and improve your food hub’s bottom line.
One benefit producers find working with food hubs is the long-term, transparent relationship characteristic of a value chain. Transparency can increase market efficiency by making an effort to find that inscrutable balance between supply and demand. The key to that process is production planning. A food hub has the valuable position of being in the middle of the transaction, so they have an understanding of what the buyers want, and the adjustments that producers can reasonably make to meet that demand.
Two food hubs will present their very different methods for doing production planning. We'll also hear from a farmer to share his perspective - what is it like to cede some of the decision making for what to plant to your buyer?
There are increasingly more non-traditional food enterprises across the U.S. proving that, through innovative, market-based approaches, we can address food access barriers, particularly for underserved, limited-resource consumers. The Wallace Center is compiling what has been learned by working with thirty food enterprises from across the country which are focused on food access. These enterprises are all part of Wallace Center’s Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) program. In this webinar, program leaders share key highlights and takeaways resulting from this program, their expertise and additional research results. Presenters share many examples of innovative and effective strategies for moving food along the supply chain and helping consumers to ultimately purchase and consume healthy food. The webinar focuses on the elements of success and innovative strategies that are bringing businesses and products to scale to reach wider markets, that may help you develop your own innovations.
Enterprising businesses are increasing their efficiency, reducing costs, addressing food equity, and engaging existing community assets to get healthy, affordable food to underserved consumers. The webinar introduces one such business, Lake County Community Development Corporation (CDC) in Ronan, Montana. Lake County CDC led a community-wide multi-stakeholder strategic planning and implementation process resulting in increased access to local healthy food in Western Montana. They share specific strategies which they employ to understand their consumers, increase availability of healthy food choices, develop markets, and increase efficiency along their food supply chain.
This is followed by a broader discussion of healthy food access learning across a wide range of models in the U.S to include rural, urban, and urban-rural linkages. Wallace Center staff share the Center's approach to understanding food access barriers, challenges, and successes. We walk through the food supply chain giving examples of these challenges, successes and considerations for each link in the food supply chain. We also discuss how demand data and consumer behavior ties into success, what works for consumer preferences, and innovative ways to support a more sustainable and equitable food system that is healthier for people, the environment, and the economy.
Connecting all the dots to ensure a good supply of healthy food is challenging, particularity in underserved and limited resource populations. Creating access to Good Food alone does not necessarily guarantee community members will purchase and eat it. Increasing food access is good, but increasing the consumption of healthy food is even better.
To “close the deal” with the consumer, we must truly and respectfully understand several factors including, how people in the community live, the constraints they live with, and how they shop. This information, when handled in a sensitive and thoughtful way is critical to creating an effective healthy food marketplace that considers what products should be marketed, at what price and to which specific consumers.
This webinar explores, at an introductory level, how one may adapt what we know about marketing and consumer behavior to create positive social change. The concepts are illustrated using inspiring examples of success and practical advice.
In this webinar we bring together conveners of food systems networks of many different sizes: very local (a section of a state), to statewide, regional and even national. Each of these networks has amplified and abetted the positive triple bottom line effects of its member businesses and organizations.
- Rich Pirog, C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Systems, Michigan State University
- Marty Gerencer, Morse Marketing Connections
- Corry Bregendahl, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University
- Karen Lehman, Fresh Taste
Livestock production has become a source of intense controversy in the United States. As our food system evolves toward sustainability, management intensive grazing offers a triple bottom line approach to meat and dairy production.
Pasture based dairy offers a low input, environmentally friendly means of producing milk. Moreover, it can provide a sustainable income for family scale farms, economic development opportunities for rural communities, and even yield a product with some uniquely desirable characteristics.
We begin the webinar with some information about the basics of dairy grazing, its environmental performance, and the growing market for pasture based dairy. Then a replicable case study of a successful grass-based dairy business gets into some of the practical considerations of transitioning to a managed grazing operation. Finally we introduce you to the first in the nation Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program* designed to train beginning and transitioning dairy farmers and help them get established on their own farms.
*The Apprenticeship is an initiative of GrassWorks, Inc. and was developed with grant funding from USDA-NIFA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
Laura Paine, Grazing and Organic Agriculture Specialist, WI Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection
Joe Tomandl, Dairy Farmer and Grass Works Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program Director
The Wallace Center has been conducting research into supply chain and policy constraints in the grass-fed beef industry, particularly related to production. It is clear that the domestic production of pastured beef is significantly lower than the domestic demand.
This webinar will make the business case for grass based beef production, including grass fed and finished beef. We will focus on the techniques that have the potential for enhanced profitability, such as the importance of pasture management, animal genetics, aggregation, use of existing infrastructure and brand development in establishing a sustainable grass-fed business. A case study on the Wisconsin Grassfed Beef Cooperative, which we feel is highly replicable, will be featured and discussed.
The Wallace Center and the leaders of this webinar are working with partners in the Upper Midwest to pilot strategies that will increase production, keep vulnerable acres in pasture, inform producers and land owners about market opportunities and provide tools that will aid transition to pasture-based production. Learn how you can be part of these pilots, or start or participate in one in your own region.
Allen Williams, Livestock Management Consultants, LLC
Greg Nowicki, Wisconsin Grass-Fed Beef Cooperative
Warren King, Wellspring, LTD
No matter what type of farm or food enterprise you envision, a business plan will serve you well. In this webinar, we will introduce the One-Page Business Plan and the One-Page Financial Plan that goes with it. These tools are designed to get you started on formalizing your thoughts about your enterprise, and are the first step in clearly articulating your business to partners, employees, or lenders.
We take you through the documents, including examples and hints, give you a sense of what your next steps will be after the One-Page documents, and then open the floor to questions.
Farm Credit East, part of the nationwide Farm Credit System of lending cooperatives, has made loans to many farms that use a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. Generally CSAs work by collecting up-front capital from consumers before the planting season, which buys them a weekly portion of the farm’s bounty during the growing months. The basic CSA business model is now a widespread direct-to-consumer marketing strategy.
But how is a farmer to know if their operation’s financial performance is adequate, or find out how they can improve their profitability? As part of their strategy to serve the needs of their farmer-members, Farm Credit East has aggregated and analyzed the data from a sample of their CSA borrowers, and has established some preliminary financial benchmarks and performance standards.
With benchmarking, it’s as if farmers can peer into the financial results of many CSA farms in order to understand how their business financial performance compares to others. That data will help CSA farmers identify where they can improve business practices to increase profitability.
This webinar will illustrate what you need to measure (the key evaluation factors), what expectations can be set from comparison to best practices (benchmarking), and what management strategies can help move financial performance to a higher level (implementation of leading edge practices).
Whether your food business is a for-profit, a co-op, or nonprofit, chances are good it’s way underfunded…or worse. Banks won’t extend loans. Wealthy “accredited” investors prefer big companies. Foundations like the idea of PRIs better than the practice. Where else can you turn? Well…there’s the other 99% of the public that’s “unaccredited” and historically regarded as off-limits to local business…
Drawing from his new book, “Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street,” Michael Shuman explains a dozen, low-cost strategies local businesses are using to secure new capital from the general public. He talks about specialized bank CD programs, prepurchase deals, new-generation cooperatives, internet sponsorship sites (like Kickstarter), P2P lenders (like Prosper and Kiva), community lending circles, investment clubs, municipal bond schemes, local revolving loan funds, direct public offerings, and local stock exchanges. He also reports on the latest news of a crowdfunding reform bill – sponsored by Tea-Party Republicans but endorsed by the Obama Administration – that is working its way through Congress and could literally make trillions of dollars of new capital available to local business.
The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative at USDA is a cross-agency effort focusing on local and regional food systems. In late February, the KYF Initiative will be releasing an in-depth report and interactive map cataloging USDA’s extensive work in local and regional food system systems across the country. In this webinar, USDA senior staff will tour you through these remarkable resources and demonstrate how they might be helpful for your work in the field.
The dream of the food movement is a system where all eaters, wealthy or not, have access to affordable, healthy, sustainable food, while producers earn a fair price for their product.
Can that dream become reality? A few pennies more to the producer could significantly increase a tomato’s price once it has traveled through the supply chain. Coupled with a host of other price pressures, it might appear that there is no solution outside of government or philanthropic aid.
As you’ll learn in this webinar, this is simply not the case. We present building blocks for real solutions, looking at the constraints in a new and different way. Our webinar presenters represent links in a functioning food value chain that discovered some answers to the price point conundrum.
When considering creating a business, most often the first step is to conduct a feasibility study. Designed to establish if a business opportunity exists, a completed feasibility study does not determine how you intend to exploit that opportunity. That process, and eventual document, is the domain of the business plan.
This webinar illustrates, by examples and discussion, how to move from a positive feasibility study to a full business plan, and financing the operation. In addition to a "Wharton Business School education in 15 minutes," we present two case studies: a food hub, and a food processing center.
This presentation was designed for those considering creating a new business in the food value chain, or involved in counseling those who do. The presentation concluded with questions from the audience.
This is webinar is in some ways a companion to our Sept. 30, 2010 webinar.
Time and time again we hear that amongst the biggest hurdles for beginning farmers are designing a business model which creditors will fund, and creating a comprehensive food safety plan for their farm. Each of the online tools presented on this webinar addresses one of those hurdles.
Farm Credit Council and the National Good Food Network have teamed up to create a website designed to illustrate the myriad ways that farmers have been successful in the "The Field Guide to the New American Foodshed." Many different routes into many different markets are explained, and then illustrated with case studies of actual farms and other businesses using each model. Designed for farmers and those who might provide credit to farmers, this tool helps people to "speak the same language."
FamilyFarmed.org, with support from the Wallace Center, has developed an on-farm food safety tool. By answering a series of questions about their operations, farmers can have this website generate all of the documentation and forms for a complete food safety plan. This is the first tool of its kind.
Learn about these amazing new tools, their background and get a sense for how they start to change the landscape for a regional food system.
Food hubs hold great promise as a key component of a sustainable, regional food system. They do face challenges, however. For one, most food hub models require significant infrastructure, which can make starting or expanding operations difficult or impossible without external capital.
Fortunately, being innovative triple bottom line businesses, qualifying food hubs can have a number of opportunities to access that capital. But where specifically should a hub look? Grants? Loans? PRIs? Investors? What is available, and which are good opportunities? Under what conditions Is it wise for a hub to take out a loan? How should hubs present themselves to have the best chance for success? Does a beginning hub have different opportunites than a more mature hub? Are grants only available to nonprofit hubs or can for profit hubs and co-ops also access grants?
The National Food Hub Collaboration assembled a panel of funding experts to illustrate the many conventional and unconventional ways food hubs can secure needed capital. Three hubs from across the country, each quite different from each other, described their operation and their capital needs. Then our expert panel advised each hub in turn on how to best access grants, loans, and other creative financing sources appropriate to that hub (and those similar to that hub). You will be a "fly on the wall" for these fast-paced consulting sessions. Take good notes!
How can technology help get more healthy, fair, affordable, green food to consumers?
See five promising new technologies that help to get more Good Food into the food system. Each of these technologies represents a different method of bolstering regional food systems. The tools focus on the needs of many different actors in the food system: producers, aggregators, and even consumers.
The panelists share what their tool does, why their technology will significantly improve regional food systems, and address the question that many have - is your model sustainable as a business?
A large block of time is reserved for audience questions, moderated by Food + Tech Connect editor Danielle Gould.
- AgSquared - farm planning and management tool http://agsquared.com
- Top10Produce - innovative farm traceability system
- Local Orb.it - food hub "back office" system
- Idaho's Bounty - cooperative-model food hub adapting open source software
- Real Time Farms - restaurant food transparency system
It's an age-old conundrum:
How do you supply all communities with Good Food - healthy, fair, affordable and green - while simultaneously ensuring that your food business will itself be sustainable?
The Wallace Center, as administrator of the Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Center, has a broad, national perspective on the most innovative market based food access work in the country.
In this webinar, we explore three of the most promising strategies and their business models for clearing away common barriers to increasing access to fresh, healthy, regionally sourced food. Learn how mobile markets, food hubs and processing / cold chain facilities each have a crucial role in easing bottlenecks to widespread Good Food.
Taking each model in turn, we describe the model from a national perspective, including the essential features, some of the challenges and opportunities of the model, and point you to several programs using the model. Then an innovative organization doing cutting edge work will dive deep into the details of their project to illustrate one way that theory translates into practice. Each presenter is a recipient of a Wallace HUFED grant.
In order to build a thriving local food system it takes actors from different sectors, each working to their strengths. Philadelphia is, in many ways, a national leader for innovative approaches to retail.
Fair Food is a non-profit with a long history of championing local food in Philadelphia. Their many market-based programs and services are a model and stepping stone for local food retail from very small to very large. Weaver's Way Co-op is a thriving retail cooperative with three locations in Philadelphia, including one in an underserved community. Their commitment to selling local food has supported many small farmers, and secured a loyal membership.
Learn how these two organizations with similar commitment to an idea, but very different approaches, are building Philadelphia’s local food economy.
Food hubs, or regional food aggregation and coordination facilities, offer great promise for systemic social and environmental change. There is a growing interest in food hubs as a route to alleviating food deserts, increasing small farm viability, establishing much needed infrastructure, providing fresh and low-carbon footprint food to all communities, and revitalizing local economies. But the food system is extremely complicated, social and economic goals can seem at odds, and the variety of food hubs springing up may seem dizzying.
This webinar provides a clear illustration of the variety of models that exist, the outcomes they offer, and a sense of their viability, focusing on key elements of successful food hubs. We weave together the experiences of two innovative hubs (very different from one another) with the draft results of the first comprehensive US food hub study to tell this exciting story of how food hubs are a lynchpin in a regional food system.
- Food Hub Collaboration study co-leads:
- James Barham, USDA AMS and
- John Fisk, Wallace Center at Winrock International
- Kate Collier, Local Food Hub, Virginia
- Dan Carmody, Eastern Market, Detroit
Scott Cullen, GRACE Communications Foundation
What are some concrete, effective steps we can take NOW to make our food system more sustainable? FAIR FOOD, a book by Oran Hesterman, has answers. On this special NGFN webinar, Oran shares some of his solutions borne from years of experience.
A host of books and films in recent years have documented in great detail the dangers of our current food system, but advice on what to do about it largely begins and ends with the admonition to “eat local” or “eat organic.” This advice is not helpful if, as Chicago Congressman Bobby Rush once pointed out, you can buy ketchup where you live, but no fresh tomatoes. Just as you can’t impact the course of climate change by simply switching to CFL bulbs, you can’t fix the broken food system by simply growing a backyard garden. It requires redesigning our food system.
Enter FAIR FOOD, an inspiring guide to changing not only what we eat, but how our food is grown, packaged, delivered, marketed and sold.
Oran Hesterman, author of FAIR FOOD and president and CEO of Fair Food Network presents some of the groundbreaking yet practical suggestions about how you can participate in collective action to precipitate big changes in our food system, from your kitchen to your community to your state house and the White House.
For fifteen years, Oran Hesterman co-led the Integrated Farming Systems and Food and Society Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, during which time the Foundation seeded the local food systems movement with over $200 million.
Institutional purchasing is a significant part of the food system, and hospitals are an obvious market for Good Food. With their focus on health as their primary function, hospitals are looking holistically, and are interested in providing healthy, local food in their cafeterias.
The Green Guide for Health Care Food Service Credits are the nation’s first and only institutional sustainable food service metric. Through an overview of the Green Guide Tool and examples from an inspiring hospital, learn how the GGHC metrics are helping support Good Food in institutions, the community and supply chain.
And as a special bonus, NGFN partner organization "Reboot Your Life" Founder Joe Cross talks about the consumer side of healthy Good Food - the power of fruits and vegetables. He discusses how eating right is the key to health and vitality. Reboot Your Life is a health and wellness company that offers support, encouragement, community, media and tools to everyday people. The company helps people change their eating habits by simply adding more fruits and vegetables into their diets.
A panel of four meat value chain experts field audience questions on the economics of regional meat. This webinar is a companion to the Feb 17, 2011, NGFN webinar entitled "The Economics of Regional Meat".
To address a wide range of questions, we assembled a stellar panel, from different:
- regions of the country (Northeast, Midwest and Southwest)
- components of the value chain (farmers and ranchers, consultants, processors)
- species expertise (beef, pork, poultry)
- Chris Harmon and Nicole Day, Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (our presenters on the Feb 17 webinar)
- Arion Thiboumery, Lorentz Meats, Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network
- Steve Warshawer, Beef Industry Improvement Initiative (of New Mexico), National Advisory Council on Meat and Poultry Inspection, Mesa Top Farm
Missed the first Economics of Meat presentation? You can review the recording and slides!
A truly regional food system includes proteins, and for many that means meat. What are the roadblocks to regional meat? Are the economics of meat very different from produce? Where should one concentrate their efforts to most effectively pave the way towards regional meat?
As the Wallace Center project “Charting Growth: Sustainable Food Indicators” reports, the concentration of the meat industry is staggering (e.g. in 2007 the 4 top beef packers controlled over 80% of the market). Those looking to build a sustainable regional food system must understand the tremendous economic forces that lead to this situation to succeed in their goal. This webinar is designed for attendees of all knowledge levels to increase the effectiveness of their regional efforts.
The webinar begins with a brief picture of the meat business across the country to set the context for its impacts on a regional level. Then our presenters from the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) in New York identify a few specific, strategic barriers to Northeast regional meat production, and their programs, systems and ideas on how to alleviate these barriers. Topics in this section include:
- infrastructure (slaughterhouses)
- HACCP requirements
- educational resources for producers
- seasonality of beef production
- the required skill sets for sustainable processing.
For our more experienced attendees, our presenters then present a detailed, nuts and bolts focus on slaughterhouses and the culture of beef production. Finally our presenters will address a few specific questions.
Though the presentation will focus on the Northeast and beef, we believe that whatever region you work in, you will come away with valuable, pertinent knowledge from this dynamic webinar.
What you measure IS what you get!
Strategic planning directs action toward measurable goals while creating a powerful framework for planning and evaluation. Get a taste of the acclaimed You Get What You Measure® planning process in this webinar. You’ll learn crucial measurement vocabulary and how to develop goals and involve stakeholders in the process of measurement. By developing your capacity to determine where you are and focus your energy on actions that will take you where you want to go, you can help to ensure the vitality and resilience of your community or organization.
You Get What You Measure® is a facilitated group process developed by Yellow Wood Associates which integrates systems thinking into strategic planning, identifies key leverage indicators and aligns actions to achieve goals. This inclusive, values-based strategic planning and evaluation process, which the National Good Food Network itself has used, identifies indicators and develops measures of progress. Find out how this powerful tool for personal and organizational development, reflection and learning can be used to vault your Good Food work to new heights.
Not much has changed in 20 years for smaller farms since bankers turned down the founders of the successful Organic Valley brand. Lenders are still dubious of "alternative agriculture," and smaller, diversified operations still struggle to translate their business models into conventional loan applications.
A national team of community-based lenders and sustainable agriculture organizations aims to change that. They are developing a tool to help lenders and smaller, diversified farms communicate. Watch this webinar for a deep look at financing sustainable food.
Susan Cocciarelli of Michigan State University's C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems sets the scene, including a very brief primer on terminology. Dorothy Suput, executive director of The Carrot Project, a farm support group and microloan fund in the Northeast, then shares her successes and challenges “on the ground” making these loans. Denise Dukette, vice president of New England Bank, introduces a possible solution to the “capital access problem” for farmers: a tool, or "risk assessment framework,” to assist traditional lenders.
Finally this team will explain their plans to build a national cohort of partners working on the ground to develop this methodology and help more lenders get to "yes" with credit-worthy farms.
Scaling up the regional food value chain for long-term change requires significant resources and infrastructure – some of which already exist and are available if we ask the right questions.
Large organizations like school districts, food service companies, and retailers have unprecedented demand for regionally-produced foods. It’s true that often-cited obstacles like insufficient processing and distribution infrastructure and complicated specifications are challenges to narrowing the gap between large-scale demand and supply. However, if we wish to leverage this demand for improved farmer livelihoods and fresh local food in our communities, the conversation cannot stop there.
In this webinar, Karen Karp provides illustrative examples of the ways in which Karp Resources has worked collaboratively with their non-profit, business, and government clients. By taking an inventory of their assets, and employing existing organizational and physical resources and infrastructure, they have worked together to overcome some of the barriers to food system change at scale.
- Karen Karp, Karp Resources
- Shayna Cohen, GrowNYC
- Emily Sandusky, Karp Resources
The Real Food Challenge unites students for just and sustainable food. Harnessing the power of university purchasing budgets, RFC leaders across the country are working with universities and food service companies to shift $1 billion of existing purchases to "real food" by 2020 and are setting new standards for transparency and accountability. By convening, connecting, training and supporting young leaders, the RFC is growing a youth movement for food justice. In just a few short years, students on over 350 campuses have connected to the RFC network, while 17 universities have "taken the challenge" and committed over $30 million toward their "real food" spending goal.
In this webinar you will learn the history and evolution of the RFC, the dramatic impact this young organization has already had, as well as how universities are creating innovation and collaboration with students on creating sustainable food services. The presentation introduces the Real Food Calculator, a tool created by RFC, which provides in-depth definitions of "real food" and a tracking system for institutional purchasing. Hear three different and inspiring stories of major purchasing changes – presented by a student, UCSB's Assistant Dining director and Pacific Northwest President for NACUFS, and an alumna who has gone on to pursue food system work after graduation.
- Tim Galarneau, National Coordinating Team Member, RFC
- David Schwartz, National Coordinating Team Member, RFC
- Kate Turcotte, University of Vermont
- Bonnie Crouse, UC Santa Barbara Dining Services & President of the Northwest Region of NACUFS
- Sue Deblieck, RFC Alumna & Maine Farm to School, Healthy Acadia Initiative
Food hubs (regional aggregation points) have been identified by many as a clear need for scaling up Good Food. Have you picked the right place and time to build your food hub? What are the area's resources and needs? How can you tailor your business to best meet those needs?
These questions can be answered by using a business planning approach, starting by completing a feasibility study. A crucial first step when embarking on a new venture, a feasibility study carefully examines the context into which the new undertaking would fit, and attempts to determine its likelihood of success.
This workshop-style webinar steps through two food hub feasibility studies to illustrate how you might go about assessing your potential food hub venture. These studies also demonstrate two very different value chain environments, and come to some different conclusions.
- Jim Slama, Founder and President, FamilyFarmed.org
- Kathy Nyquist, Principal, New Venture Advisors, LLC
Scaling up Good Food requires increasing the capacity of growers, to be sure, but there must be buyers lined up to get the food to the eaters. The two companies featured on this webinar, Chipotle and Sysco, are very large buyers, and are committed to increasing their local and regional buying.
Our presenting companies are in very different sectors: Chipotle is a "fast casual" restaurant chain with over 1000 locations; Sysco is the largest food service distributor in North America.
- Has their experience moving towards local and regional food been similar, or are there notable differences?
- What is their corporate motivation to alter their buying?
- What have they accomplished so far, and what challenges have they encountered?
- What are their plans for future expansion of these programs?
- According to our presenters, how can you best help to enable these (and other) buyers to increase their purchasing of Good Food?
Each of the companies' representatives answer these questions and more, including many attendee questions toward the end of the webinar.
- Heidi Wederquist, Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Craig Watson, Sysco (HQ)
- Denis Jennisch, Sysco (Grand Rapids, MI)
The Wallace Center, national coordinating organization for the National Good Food Network, is the recipient of the USDA/NIFA Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development (HUFED) Center grant.
This webinar presents the aims and progress of this groundbreaking program. Two sub-grant recipients introduce you to their programs, and in particular how they plan to use their recently-granted funds. Finally we give you the first look at the Wallace Center's plans for accepting submissions for the second round of grants, including our refined program focus.
- John Fisk and Michelle Frain Muldoon, Wallace Center at Winrock International
- Brett Melone, Agricultural and Land Based Training Association (ALBA)
- Mike Curtin and Brian MacNair , DC Central Kitchen
Learn more about the HUFED Center.
Local governments can be powerful partners for changing the food system. As the Good Food and local food movements continue to gain momentum and visibility, local officials are becoming more interested in how these initiatives can help their communities. Mark Winne, author of “Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty” and top national expert on Food Policy Councils has a wealth of experience to share about local policy work as a tool for food system change.
What are the best ways to approach local officials and build partnerships with them over time? What types of strategies are most effective for Food Policy Councils and local food policy initiatives? What kind of impacts can they have on the food system and the community?
Mark gives you a crash course on how to be most effective in your efforts, and Paul Hubbard shares successes and lessons learned from the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition in Missoula, MT. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Learn from the successes of others.
School Food FOCUS is a national initiative that helps participating school districts with 40,000 or more students to procure more healthful, more sustainably produced and regionally sourced food.
The program director of School Food FOCUS presents an overview of the organization, including services they provide, followed by an in-depth case study of the highly successful Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) project. This case study is presented from two perspectives - that of the nutrition services purchasing analyst, and also from the community partner, a role that FOCUS contends is crucial to finding success. We close the webinar with some perspective on avenues of collaboration between the National Good Food Network and School Food FOCUS.
- Kathy Lawrence, Program Director, School Food FOCUS
- Jim Groskopf, Nutrition Services Purchasing Analyst, Saint Paul Public Schools
- JoAnne Berkenkamp, Program Director for Local Foods, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
How can an organization most effectively find long term success when working with diverse communities?
This webinar brings together several presenters who care passionately about both good food and working with diverse cultures. They share how they have found success in different projects, with a focus on illustrating general best practices by using specific examples.Hear practical advice from these dynamic thought and action leaders.
- Kolu Zigbi, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
- Karen Washington and Owen Taylor, Just Food
- Diana Copeland, East Michigan Environmental Action Council
Richard Pirog, Associate Director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, presents on two of the Leopold Center’s major projects:
Value Chain Partnerships is an Iowa-based network of food and agriculture working groups which brings together a diverse ensemble of producers, processors, and private, non-profit, and government organizations across a variety of market-driven food and agriculture issues. Currently supporting six state-wide and regional working groups, the working groups operate using a community of practice framework, which has been pivotal to their success. Learn about the Value Chain Partnerships, and how the community of practice framework has been so successful in bridging the differences between such a diverse group of participants to deliver benefits to farmers and food business networks and communities.
An analysis from the Leopold Center* and analyzed by ISU researcher Dave Swenson estimated potential state and regional economic values associated with increased production of fresh fruit and vegetables in a six-state area of the Upper Midwest. Both scenarios in the study showed that reasonable increases in fruit and vegetable production would significantly increase the number of jobs at the farm and retail level compared to current agricultural land use. Some details of the findings are presented, as well as the methods used to determine impacts.
* in collaboration with regional partners who participated in the Wallace Center’s Upper Midwest Regional Lead Team
What is a regional food system? What makes it different from a local, national or global food food system?
Regional food thinkers Kathy Ruhf and Kate Clancy present some new ideas about regional food systems, along with recent efforts the Northeast has made to understand and strengthen its food system. They share the results of a large survey of regionally focused food value chains, and talk about how a broad regional network is supporting cross-sector food system development in the Northeast.
Please see the presenters' recently published article "Is Local Enough? Some Arguments for Regional Food Systems" in Choices Magazine.
The Southwest US is a diverse and culturally rich region with many small farms, but it also has high rates of poverty and food insecurity. Hear from innovative National Good Food Network Regional Lead Team projects in the Southwest that are linking diverse communities, supporting local economies, and increasing access to healthy food in ways that build on the region’s cultural traditions of the region.
- Paula Garcia, Executive Director, New Mexico Acequia Association
- Don Bustos, Program Director, American Friends Service Committee - New Mexico
- Pam Roy, Co-director of Farm to Table in New Mexico and regional Farm to School lead
- Janie Hipp is currently a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the USDA in the Office of Tribal Relations
In our current era of long value chains, it is impossible for consumers to know all of the practices used to grow and process the food they eat. Third-party food certifiers can ensure that the food in our food system conforms to standards on a multitude of dimensions.
Scott Exo, Executive Director of the Food Alliance, a premier certifier of Good Food, addresses some of the pros and cons of third party certification. Peter Truitt, president of the renown Truitt Brothers, a certified cannery, and Alison Dennis, Director of Supply Chain Management of The Holland Inc. (better known as Burgerville, its chain of restaurants) explain why they chose to get certified, their experience going through the process, and most importantly, how it has affected their bottom line.
Demand for organic and sustainably produced food has been growing rapidly for nearly two decades. In the past several years there has been a comparable surge in demand for locally or regional produced food. For many regions of the country, however, building a supply to meet that growing demand has proven to be very challenging. In response, a number of innovative organizations and businesses have launched or expanded “value chains” to increase the supply and availability of healthy, sustainably produced foods in their region.
In this webinar, NGFN Advisory Council member Anthony Flaccavento shares the results of a survey of these innovative value chain organizations, highlighting common challenges and strategies employed, as well as unique approaches some have developed. Hear a sampling of the experiences of nearly two dozen groups, in Appalachia, the Northeast, the Midwest and other regions are offered in the form of short case studies,. A recently completed Toolkit for building value chains is described briefly.
To many, local food is exclusively about proximity, with consumers demanding higher quality food grown, caught, processed, cooked, and sold by people they know and trust. But an equally important part of local food is local ownership of food businesses. An innovative recent report looks at the full range of locally owned businesses involved in food, whether they are small or big, whether they are primary producers or manufacturers or retailers, whether their focus is local or global markets. We call these businesses community food enterprises (CFEs).
A detailed field report on the performance of 24 CFEs, half inside the United States and half international, the project shows that CFEs represent a huge diversity of legal forms, scales, activities, and designs. Are CFEs replicable? The authors believe the answer is “yes,” especially if the successful strategies revealed in their study are widely communicated and adopted.
To that end, John Fisk, Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International and CFE co-project director lays the foundation of the discussion by explaining the origins and underlying assumptions of the study. Lead author and co-director of the study, Michael Shuman, Director of Research and Economic Development at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), presents the major findings of the work, with a particular emphasis on scaling up good food domestically. To ground the theory with the practical, Mike Lorentz, visionary co-owner of Lorentz Meats (one of the featured CFEs), presents his story of being highly successful while serving the seemingly competing needs of large and small ranchers. In addition to other high praise, his meat processing plant’s commitment to transparency and humane slaughter earned commendation in Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”
The National Farm to School Network aims to bring local and regional food directly from farms to school cafeterias across the country. Learn the latest about the important and synergistic efforts of one of the NGFN’s partner organizations.
The webinar covers key aspects of farm to school initiatives that are getting more good food to more students, all over the country. Leaders of the National Farm to School organization describe their strategies, the network and the services they provide and update us on recent Congressional activity. A representative from USDA’s farm to school “tactical team” talks about how they are supporting farm to school efforts and how USDA has prioritized the farm to school concept. We end with a practical case study of the creation and expansion of a farm to school program presented by the lead of that program—once a skeptic!
Moderator: Warren King, Principal, WellSpring LTD
Panelists: Vanessa Zajfen, Center for Food Justice Occidental College; Ruffin Slater, Weaver Street Market Coop; Mike Orf, Hy-Vee, Inc.
Getting more good food into retail is a priority. According to USDA-ERS over 90% of the food that Americans consume at home is purchased at retail outlets.
Details on innovative approaches to getting more good food into retail channels of very different kinds, including a mid-size regional retail chain (200 stores), a three-store cooperative and a WIC-only store. Topics include: making connections with local producers and cooperatives, food safety, challenges in starting programs and how our panelists have overcome them, marketing good food in the store, and metrics for measuring success.
The NGFN Food Safety Coordinator, Steve Warshawer, leads an interactive briefing with some of the leaders of the charge to ensure that small- and mid-sized producers are treated fairly as new laws are formed. Topics include Congressional food safety bills (HR.2749 and S.510), National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA) hearings and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) working alternative to the food safety system being debated by the federal government.
Aimee Witteman, executive director, and Ferd Hoefner, policy director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), Patty Lovera, assistant director, Food and Water Watch (FWW) . Russell Libby, executive director, MOFGA.
Participants in the National Good Food Network had a unique opportunity to communicate directly with several key people at the USDA about upcoming funding opportunities. Debra Tropp, Branch Chief, Marketing Services Division, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service moderates a panel of grant managers from across USDA agencies.
Michael Rozyne, Co-Director, Red Tomato
Red Tomato, a small nonprofit business in Massachusetts, is the marketing agent for a network of 40 mid-size farms in the Northeast. Red Tomato orchestrates their supply into more than 200 supermarkets in the greater Boston area, and as of recently, in the greater NYC metro area. To satisfy farms and deliver high-quality produce to distributors, Red Tomato's value-added strategy is to differentiate products, or decommodify them, through branding, local and farm identity, packaging, variety choice and diversity, eco certification, aggregation, and through intense focus on quality control to maximize flavor and freshness.
Can Red Tomato build a regional supply chain that maintains the highest quality, and satisfies both farmers and consumers alike? This webinar explores this question as well as some of the contradictions in the system, such as seasonality vs. the year-round supply that is required to compete in the produce industry.
The project leads of the NGFN/Sysco Partnership share learning specific to the growers’ and buyers’ perspectives, and then talk about ongoing issues around food safety.
Moderator: Joe Colyn, NGFN/Sysco Project Coordinator
Project Manager, Sysco Grand Rapids: Denis Jennisch (Produce Manager, Sysco Grand Rapids)
Co-Project Managers, Sysco Kansas City: Diana Endicott (Owner, Good Natured Family Farms) and Otavio Silva (The Food Conservancy and Buy Fresh Buy Local Kansas City)
Anthony Flaccavento discusses the history and context of ASD, focusing on Appalachian Harvest, a model of an "Entrepreneurial Non Profit."