2018 Statewide Gathering Recap

Author: 
samanthaecave

The NH Food Alliance recently hosted our 3rd Annual Statewide Gathering on March 9th, held this year at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH. Over 100 network partners attended,  representing over 70 different organizations from NH, MA, ME, and VT. Each attendee brought their own valuable experiences to the table - farmers, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and food businesses all came together to share ideas about the local food system.

Some of the speakers included Shawn Jasper, the new NH Commissioner of Agriculture; Peter Allison of Farm to Institution New England (FINE); Jen White, Food Service Director of Colby Sawyer College; Tom Kelly of the UNH Sustainability Institute, and Allan Reetz of the Hanover Co-op Food Stores. We updated everybody about the projects our Action Teams have been steadily working on and attendees also shared success stories from across the network.

Attendees then broke out into 6 different Action Team sessions, depending on their interests. NH Listens helped to facilitate the breakout sessions where participants had the chance to network and brainstorm ideas with other stakeholders about the “next steps” of each Action Team.  We’ve summarized some of the general action items and goals from the sessions below.

Food Access (Consumer):

  • Finding unique and convenient ways to reach new consumers, including those without reliable transportation
  • Increasing the use and ease of Granite State Market Match and other incentive programs
  • Beginning Fruit and Vegetable Rx programs across the state
  • Making food access programs beneficial to both consumers and food producers

 

Food Access (Institution)

  • Identifying different case studies in increasing farm-to-institution supply and demand
  • Editing and finalizing the upcoming toolkit, including varied resources for both institutions and producers, to make it user-friendly
  • Creating a matrix or flowchart helping institutions make purchasing decisions in line with their values and resource constraints
  • Finding ways in which Sodexo can work more closely with NH institutions, especially colleges and universities

 

Market Development:

  • Determining what makes a successful food hub by looking at case studies and conducting a needs assessment and economic analysis
  • Locating different forms of funding and potential partnerships for a food hub
  • Specifying the main goals of a Seacoast food hub and ensuring that these goals are feasible
  • Identifying ways in which the food hub could serve low-income communities and increase food access

 

Land Resources:

  • Raising funds to inform landowners and farmers about the benefits of conservation easements
  • Finding and distributing resources to help people understand the basics of land conservation
  • Ensuring that future easements are “farm-friendly” and getting local agricultural commissions, farmers, and land trusts working with each other
  • Addressing the economic drivers behind land stewardship

 

Fisheries:

  • Discussing the creation and mission of a New England Young Fishers Foundation (NEYFF)
  • Widening the access of fishers to grants, loans, and technical assistance
  • Identifying possible roadblocks preventing young people from joining the fishing industry; especially the financial costs
  • Planning the structural details of NEYFF- including key players, funding, and organization status

 

Education:

  • Reviewing ideas to increase the purchase of local food across the state among all demographics
  • Generating key phrases and terms to test across market audiences, to unite the campaign
  • Strengthening the connections and communications between food systems partners
  • Launching a toolkit for partners with ways to reach different audiences about local food

Thanks to everyone who came and shared their ideas and enthusiasm The NH Food Alliance welcomes everyone working in the NH Food System to get involved. If you are interested in connecting with our partners, or with us directly, please let us know! If you’d like to join an Action Team and get started, you can learn more about how they work here.