Rooted in Community: A Proposal

Sarah Lyman, Director of Communications

A localized approach to growing the farm to institution movement in New England

FINE, the Springfield Food Policy Council, the City of New Haven Food Policy Division, and the Cumberland County Food Security Council have submitted an application to the USDA for a three-year project under their 2022 Regional Food System Partnership program! We believe this community-led model is the future of farm to institution success: building strong community-driven foundations of FTI work that are woven and connected, and lead to big regional impact. As the network backbone organization for FTI work in New England, FINE is refocusing our strategy in alignment with this model. We will find out in the fall if the proposal is awarded funding, but in the meantime, we'd love to share more about this model and discuss ways that we can all work together on this. Contact Peter Allison to get involved:

Graphic displaying community relationships, cohort connection, and regional impact

Proposal Abstract

This project invests in strengthening regional, equitable farm to institution (FTI) relationships and value chains in three New England communities, which in coordination will lead to greater regional and values-based food procurement across New England while shifting institutional power dynamics around race. Springfield, MA; New Haven, CT; and Cumberland County, ME will form a cohort, represented by three community-based organizations—Springfield Food Policy Council, Cumberland County Food Security Council, City of New Haven Food System Policy Division—who are already driving food systems change at the local level. The partnership will be supported by three state departments of agriculture and coordinated by the regional network backbone organization— Farm to Institution New England — who will connect the cohort with regional partners, resources, and trainings, while sharing stories and strategies developed in each community with the broader network.  We believe that strong, inter-woven and community-driven foundations of FTI work lead to sustainable regional impact for New England producers and residents who eat at institutions.
Three objectives drive this project: 

  • Community level: Plan and implement multi-sector community-driven farm to institution initiatives in three New England communities, ensuring authentic engagement with residents who are most affected by this work and prioritizing disinvested communities.
  • Cohort level: Establish a cohort among three communities for peer-to-peer learning, capacity building, and cross-cohort leveraging.
  • Regional level: Reinforce and grow New England's farm to institution movement by creating a dynamic and multi-directional exchange of promising practices, success stories, and relationship building opportunities between the community cohort and the broader New England network.

Application partners: 

Springfield Food Policy Council 
City of New Haven Food System Policy Division 
Cumberland County Food Security Council
Farm to Institution New England
MA Dept of Agricultural Resources
CT Dept of Agriculture
ME Dept of Agriculture, Conservation, & Forestry
Somali Bantu Community Assoc. of Maine
Maine Farm to Institution Network
Portland Public Schools
Native Maine

Word cloud in the shape of an apple. Prominent words include community, food, racial equity, institution, new, cohort, and regional