Viability Initiative Action Team Updates: May 2017

Author: 
Erin Hale

 

Action Teams are hard at work on innovative, collaborative projects that will support and enhance farm, fish, and food enterprise viability in New Hampshire.  On April 27, the co-chairs of our action teams met with the Process and Backbone Teams to discuss progress, share information, explore synergies, and brainstorm about challenges.  

 Interested in getting involved? Action Team members work on projects that connect with and enhance their own professional work.  Read more about what our Education, Market Development, Land Resources, Food Access, and Fisheries teams are up to and find out where you might fit in!

 

Education

The Education Action Team is working on creating a statewide educational campaign focused on raising awareness about local food and agriculture, increasing local food purchasing, and developing an agricultural identity for NH.  Members agree on the importance of integrating and amplifying existing educational and branding efforts (e.g., Harvest of the Month, NH Made, etc.)  and have discussed ways to utilize existing networks (e.g., UNHCE Master Gardeners) to help with outreach and education.  The team will invite communications coordinators from the state’s larger networks, coalitions, and businesses to join their efforts to improve communications and information sharing. Additionally, they will develop an integrated social media campaign focused on enhancing local food purchasing, and building the New Hampshire agricultural/food product brand and identity.  

 

Market Development

The Market Development Action Team is a vibrant mix of food entrepreneurs and technical assistance (TA) providers. Their focus is on enhancing the capacity of service providers to offer technical, educational, and financial assistance to new and experienced farmers, as well as fishermen and food entrepreneurs in the areas of production, efficiency, and value-added processing. This team will also have the help of a Sustainability Fellow this summer who will conduct an inventory and gap analysis of current technical assistance programs and funding and identify best practices for TA programming and funding. In the fall, they will convene a meeting among TA providers and funders to discuss the research findings. Ultimately, they will develop a food entrepreneurship funding mechanism to support enhanced TA across the state.  

 

Food Access

The Food Access Action Team is divided into two groups focusing on increasing institutional and consumer access. The institutional group will  (1) define “local”, (2) create a list of distributors that carry NH grown or produced products, (3) create some farm to institution case studies, (4) inventory ways that local food is currently accessed within institutions, and (5) investigate language used to develop contracts with local food producers.  The team will share this information and develop contract templates in order to build capacity for institutions and communities to access local food. The consumer group is strengthening connections and collaborations across the state to enhance nutrition incentives and SNAP purchasing at farmers’ markets. To do this, they will work with programs such as Granite State Market Match, Fruit and Veg RX, and Cooking Matters, and with funders to expand SNAP purchasing into retail markets. The group will create a New Hampshire specific toolkit and repository of resources for farmers markets, hospitals, and other local food outlets. The resources will be designed to support these outlets in successfully reaching SNAP customers and expand access by integrating multiple elements such as education, transportation, veggie prescription, EBT, etc.

 

Land Resources

The Land Resources Team has been meeting since early this year, and has begun exploring how to establish new funding mechanisms that secure agricultural easements, and enhance education of farmers and landowners about the benefits of protecting their lands with conservation easements. Their innovative approach to funding includes (1) working with funders to establish a dedicated fund for agricultural conservation easements, (2) using crowd-funding as a revenue source for the foundation fund, (3) creating a bridge loan program for stewardship projects (EQIP) and conservation easements (ALE), and (4) advocating for the NH Agricultural Lands Preservation Program (ALPP) to be funded in the next budget season. They are also developing a guide for peer to peer farmland easement workshops, and will work with NH Food Alliance partners across the state to offer these workshops beginning in 2018.

 

Fisheries

This fall, the Fisheries action team will convene key players from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the North Atlantic Marine Alliance, the New England Fisheries Management Council, NH Fishermen, and other members of the NH Fishing Industry to determine the appropriate direction for action around fisheries policy.