Explore the Breakout Session focus areas by clicking on the tiles below.
Click the links below to jump to sessions descriptions.
Full Day trainings will occur on Tuesday, March 27 from 9am – 5pm and will cost $40. The Partnering for Purpose workshop is free of charge thanks to the WK Kellogg Foundation. Register here!
Training Boosts Efficiency and Equity: Where Do I Start?
This Full Day Training will build the capacity of managers in food businesses to assess their operations to identify where clearer standards for staff/volunteers can improve efficiency and resiliency, and create effective training and evaluation systems. Competent and engaged staff are key to any successful operation, but too often work processes are unclearly defined and training and evaluation of staff lack focus. The result is frustrated managers and staff, and ultimately a less successful business or community organization. This training will cover the five essential components of an effective staff training system. Each participant will define an area of operations that needs attention. We will work through identifying outcomes and competencies, as the basis for training and evaluation. In the afternoon, we will create some effective training activities to assure transfer of good ideas into practice back home.
Peggy da Silva, Principal, Consulting for Community
Partnering With Purpose
A hands-on workshop in building stronger and more equitable local food systems by facilitating collaboration between the various food systems actors and engagement with the full breadth of local communities. Goals: Provide skills to food system leaders in facilitating collaboration between sectors in their communities, including those directly involved in food systems work and the many partners needed to support them. The workshop will provide experiential tools that leaders can bring home to their communities, as well as problem solving and discussion about the challenges of convening effectively. Foster community engagement to inform and resource food systems work, for deeper and more equitable impact on the ground. The workshop will introduce participants to the Radical Inclusion model of community engagement, including community mapping to ensure that no one is left out of planning, and opening dialogues with previously marginalized groups in ways that feel meaningful and safe for them.
Vicki Pozzebon, Principal, Prospera Partners
Ellen Shepard, CEO, Community Allies
Keegan King, Owner, Mount Taylor Organic Farm at Acoma Pueblo
Fearless Fundraising – It’s All in the Preparation
We get involved in a food hub or value chain business because we want to make the world a better place, then we realize that we need money be profitable. It’s at this point that fear sets in, then a grind of conversations that result in no money. The purpose of this training is to shift this dynamic completely. Anyone can raise money when they are thoroughly prepared to present a compelling business model and ask the right people for the right kind of money for the right reason. Participants in this training will leave knowing exactly what they need to do to raise money. This includes business models that work for food hubs and value chain businesses, their breakeven scale and capital requirements, the best sources and uses of capital, and a detailed to-do list for all of the documentation needed for a lender or investor.
Tera Johnson, Director, Food Finance Institute, UW Extension
Food Policy Councils and Food Hubs: Bringing the Community Together
(Note: This is a half day workshop schedule on Tuesday, March, 27 from 1pm-5pm)
This training will focus on the practical application of food policy for food hubs, beginning with a guide into the world food policy and how food hubs and food policy councils can work together. Participants will gain practical skills on how to engage your local food policy council and how these councils can be an essential vehicle for community engagement to make your food hub stronger, more impactful, and sustainable.
Mark Winne, Senior Advisor, Center for a Livable Future
Susie Marshal, GROW North Texas
Susanne Girdner, Georgia Organics
Tricia Kovacs, USDA/AMS
Half Day trainings will occur on Wednesday, March 28 from 8am – 12pm and will cost $25. Register here!
Funding, Financing and Ownership: Creating Community Well-Being through Regional Food Systems
Explore how regional food systems can be developed to enhance community well-being in the context of New Economy thinking, and to determine the funding, financing and ownership approaches that can be used to achieve the goal. The workshop will give examples of current partnerships that are supporting regional food systems development, the importance of establishing those partnerships and how the correct business structure can enhance their potential.
Warren King, President-Food Commons Fresno Community Corporation; Karen Schmidt, Fresno Food Commons Trust; John Katovich, Cutting Edge Capital; Jamie Harvie, The Food Commons
Promoting Local Food Systems through Value-chain Exploration and Mapping: An Interactive Workshop
West Central Missouri Community Action Agency recently launched a Community Development Corporation focused on community wealth building in rural Missouri. A key tool in our work is value-chain exploration and mapping of market opportunities. It helps our underserved, under-resourced rural communities chart the territory between them and market demand for goods and services they might provide, such as local food. The process identifies assets and opportunities as well as interested parties and potential investors. In this interactive workshop, we will introduce and practice value chain exploration as a method for stimulating practical conversations and collaborative action. We will discuss how we are using these tools in our food systems work and other sectors, such as tourism. Participants will have the opportunity to apply these tools to their own projects, and get feedback from peers and presenters.
Patty Cantrell, Director of Community Wealth Building, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency
Melissa Levy, Principal, Community Roots LLC
Katie Nixon, Food Systems Specialist, West Central Missouri Community Action Agency
Crop, Chop, Change: How food hubs innovate, differentiate, and profit with a kitchen
Commercial kitchens provide food hubs with a powerful platform for revenue diversification, advertising, education, advocacy, and lead-generation to support their core competencies of buying and selling local produce. Diverse programming in nonprofit food hub The Good Acre’s onsite kitchen serves to foster and scale relationships with buyers from consumers to institutions. This workshop will dive into the how and why of each core program offering, including culinary trainings for professionals in foodservice, family and consumer sciences (FACS), and medicine/public health; farm share (CSA) sampling/demonstrations; public/private/corporate cooking classes; and kitchen rental for food businesses, including local sourcing support and TGA’s ag-centric food business accelerator (Maker to Market, with Lakewinds Food Co-op). Finally, they will discuss the potential for commercial kitchens/food hubs to process seconds/gluts into value-added food products, providing hunger relief solutions that advance food equity and access without relying on write-offs from farmers.
Emily Paul, Director of Programs, The Good Acre
Nick Mabe, Logistic and Sales Director, The Good Acre
Rhys Williams, Executive Director, The Good Acre
Navigating strategic food system change: A road map for community food and agriculture plans
Communities across the country are seeking to improve their vibrancy and vitality through meaningful connections that strengthen food systems, sustain local farms, improve access to healthy food, and increase community prosperity. In this training, you will develop a road map to spur, strengthen, and maintain diverse community engagement for meaningful change. First learn about innovative food system plans at various scales from cities to states. Then facilitators will walk you through the different stages of a food plan including defining the scope, creating a timeline, identifying strategic partnerships, and developing an engagement plan for your own community. You will be provided a workbook with templates and examples which will become your own roadmap. Finally, panelist will share how you shift gears from planning to implementation and provide guidance about the process, tools, funding, and resources that led to successful impact in their own communities.
Pam Roy, Executive Director, Farm to Table
Blake Angelo, Manager of Food Systems Development, City and County of Denver
Dawn Thilmany, Professor, Colorado State University
Becca Jablonski, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University
The “And” in Brand: Brand Building, Marketing and Culture Change
This workshop, led by Red Tomato, will cover the basics of brand-led organizations, business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing, transparency in the supply chain, and use of both physical and digital resources to reach your audiences. We will explore what it means to build a brand that supports farmers and food hub values, and how effective brand marketing can help address challenges in the supply chain. In the second part of the session, we will be joined by voices from the culture world and Southwest region to move beyond ‘the brand’ to exploring what it means to shift culture. Drawing on examples from native cultures and other movements, we pose this question to attendees: how can we leverage our collective marketing resources—all of the great stories we have to tell and the beautiful images, video and sounds we use to tell them—in ways that help to change the larger culture toward support for local food and good food values?
Sue Furtell, Director for Marketing, Red Tomato
Gideon Burdick, Marketing and Development Manager, Red Tomato
Merging Values and Value
Articulating and integrating a values-based mission into the practical, day-to-day work of running a food hub is a challenging task. Drawing on published frameworks of diverse economies and ethics of care, this workshop will guide participants through their own process of crafting a care-centered framework to guide both the mission and operations of their enterprise. Using examples from in-depth studies of three food hubs, we will explore how a care-centered economic framework helps guide the integration of ethical and financial values in food hub planning, management, and operation. Participants will then work through a step-by-step development of a care-centered strategic framework for their unique operations and community context. This framework can help inform future planning efforts, the development of essential and strategic partnerships, and guide operational decision making that best meets the long term vision and core competencies of the food hub.
Dr. Lilian Brislen, University of Kentucky
Sara Pennington, Community Organizer
Site Visits will occur on Wednesday, March 28 from 8am – 12pm and will cost $25. Register here!
La Montañita/Cooperative Distribution Center (Mid-Tier, Consumer-Owned Food Hub)
La Montañita Coop (LMC) is a 41-year-old, consumer-owned retailer that specializes in local, sustainably produced food. When the availability of local produce began to flatline more than ten years ago, LMC experimented with routing and aggregation, using only a cell phone and rented truck. The coop now operates a self-sustaining, mid-sized distribution center, with nearly $10 million in annual sales.
Attendees will learn about the stages of growth and evolution of LMC’s Cooperative Distribution Center, as well as the unique challenges of operating a food hub in a sparsely populated state like New Mexico. They will also learn about the various product lines that LMC has helped to both cultivate and grow beyond their own food hub’s distribution capacities.
Agri-Cultura Network/American Friends Service Committee (Small, Producer-Owned Food Hub)
The Agri-Cultura Network (ACN) is a producer cooperative that provides marketing services to its seven member farms and its network of affiliated growers. ACN aggregates, washes, packs, and distributes its produce out of a shared, commercial kitchen in the South Valley of Albuquerque to local retailers and restaurants and as part of a subsidized, low-income CSA.
This site visit will include discussions with an ACN co-director to learn more about the network’s operations and with representatives from the South Valley Economic Development Center (the shared commercial kitchen where ACN is based) and the American Friends Service Committee (the farmer-training organization that originally incubated ACN) to discuss the various partnerships that have helped to make this small, producer-owned food hub a success. The site visit will also include a stop to one of the nearby ACN member farms.
Labatt Food Service/Native Beef Program (Regionally-Based Distributor)
Labatt Food Service is the tenth largest foodservice distributor in the country, serving customers throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Northern Arizona since 1910. Key to their success is Labatt’s ability to distribute to both large, institutional partners and to smaller, regional groups alike. Labatt further differentiates itself through its commitment to supporting local producers by way of their Native American Beef program, a source-verified product line based on cattle raised exclusively on regional, Native American ranches. Attendees will learn about Labatt’s customer-driven model that continues to inform its efficient operations and systems. Labatt will also discuss the work involved in establishing and growing its Native American Beef program, beginning with the outreach and provision of technical assistance to Native American ranchers through to the finishing, processing, and marketing of a branded, whole carcass meat program.
Sweet Grass Cooperative/Peculiar Farms (Producer Coop, Diversified Farm and Food Enterprise)
Sweet Grass is a regional, 100% grass-fed grass-finished beef producer cooperative, comprised of ranchers in New Mexico and Colorado that provides marketing services to its members, many of whom are certified organic and all of whom raise their animals in a manner that is good for the land and consistent with the humane treatment of animals. The site visit will take place at Peculiar Farms, a Sweet Grass Coop member located in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Peculiar Farms’ owner has evolved his business over the years to include everything from produce, flowers, eggs, beef, pork, and even an on-farm café and recently served as President of Sweet Grass.
During the site visit, attendees will learn about grass-based ranching in the intermountain West, as well as the successes and challenges of marketing a branded beef program to local New Mexico consumers, and about Peculiar Farms’ experience leading the Sweet Grass Coop.
Cornelio Candelaria Organics /New Mexico Acequia Association (Water Rights and Community Based Food Systems)
Acequias are a centuries-old, community-operated irrigation system, and are the lifeline for farmers and ranchers in arid climates. Governance over acequias and water rights are a matter of survival for New Mexicans. Thanks to the organizing and outreach efforts of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) — as well as the 600+ acequias they work with — acequias have become a clear model of equitable community resource management.
Attendees will visit Cornelio Candelaria Organics, a local farm and NMAA member to better understand the acequia’s function within a farm’s operations. An NMAA representative will discuss the complex history of water rights and water law in the American Southwest and the current status of acequia governance on a statewide level.
Bridging Differences: Exploring the dynamics of multi-cultural collaboration in the New Mexico Food System
Cross-cultural cooperation and coordination have been both central and essential as New Mexicans from a wide range of communities and perspectives focused their efforts on the revitalization of local, regional and traditional food systems. This collaboration has not come easy; the state’s food and agriculture systems have been shaped by its varied geography and bio-regions, forged by a complex history of conquest and colonization and embedded in the rich heritage of Native American, Hispanic, Latino and Anglo cultures. Despite these dynamics of difference, or perhaps because of them, a vibrant and interconnected network of small farms, community-based organizations, food policy councils, retail coops, food businesses and food hubs has emerged across the state, and New Mexico is celebrated nationally for its progressive and collaborative approach to regional value chain development. Through discussion with a diverse group of local leaders who have collaborated across difference to further local and regional food system development, we hope to draw out lessons and inspiration for communities across America.
Krysten Aguilar, Director of Operations and Policy Advocacy, La Semilla Food Center, Gloria Ann Begay, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Dine’ Food Sovereignty Alliance, Pam Roy, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Farm to Table New Mexico, Benjamin Bartley, La Montañita Coop and Distribution Center, Beata Tsosie-Peña, Environmental Health and Justice Program Coordinator, Tewa Women United
Moderated by: Henry Rael, Program Officer, McCune Foundation of New Mexico
Let’s Talk! A Dialogue on Racial Equity in the Food System
We cannot build sustainable and successful farms, value chains, food enterprises, and social movements without challenging and dismantling systems of injustice and inequity. This conference-wide session, facilitated by Wallace Center staff and friends, will focus on open and honest small-group conversations about how racism and discrimination impact farming and food systems. The session will culminate in a discussion on actionable strategies, tools, and opportunities for individual and organizations to work together to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable food system for all. Bring your knowledge, inspiration, and curiosity to this interactive, peer-to-peer session!
Regional Food Systems as Economic and Community Development
This panel will explore how food systems fit into economic development, and vice versa. Growth in the regional food sector is attracting interest from new stakeholders in community and economic development. How do we translate our values and goals into language that is compelling for these new audiences? Can we work together to build larger scale regional food systems that create not just jobs, but resilient and equitable communities? Join us to discuss how new partnerships and creative tactics can build the case for food systems as an economic development strategy.
Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center; Blake Angelo, Kaiser Permanente; Paula Daniels, Center for Good Food Purchasing; Jen Faigel, CommonWealth Kitchen; Javier Martinez, Partnership for Community Action; Todd Erling from Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Center
Moderator: Malini Ram Moraghan, Daisa Enterprises
Food Hub Networks
Over the last few years, it’s become apparent that the food hub trend is here to stay. As hubs mature and expand, they are learning to work together all across the country. Food hub networks are gaining ground in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and more. These partnerships can lead to increased efficiency, shorter supply chains, and a broader range of product, but they present new logistical challenges as well. Join practitioners and hub operators to discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with partnering with other hubs.
Food Hub Survey
Since 2013, Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems has conducted a national survey of Food Hubs with support from the Wallace Center. The 2017 Survey will be officially published April 19th, 2018, but join the authors and contributors to get a sneak peek at the findings of the survey and discuss how the data can help individual hubs optimize and market their businesses.
A new initiative of the Wallace Center, the Food Systems Leadership Network aims to support leaders and staff of non-profit, community-based organizations working on food systems change. Come to this facilitated networking session to learn about this new service, map out the specific needs of your organizations, crowd-source resources, and help guide the content and direction of the network. You’ll leave this session with an expanded professional network and a wealth of community-curated resources.
Susan Schempf, Andrew Carberry, and Annalina Kazickas from the Wallace Center
Value Chain Coordination Roundtable
Thriving local food systems rely on more than just hard infrastructure to function. They also need soft infrastructure—healthy, transparent relationships–to be sustainable and competitive. Value chain coordinators build this soft infrastructure and can create more robust, efficient and effective regional food systems. Does this sound like you? Come meet other VCCs, including many from USDA’s Food LINC initiative, and a few technical advisors to talk about the challenges, best practices, and opportunities of value chain coordination.
Ellie Bomstein, Steve Warshawer, the Wallace Center; Rebecca Dunning, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, NC State; Sarah Rocker, Rural Sociology, Penn State University
Homeplace Under Fire, Farm Aid Documentary
Homeplace Under Fire is the story of the front-line, grassroots work of American farm advocates and their 30-year fight to keep family farmers on the land. The Farm Crisis of the 1980s drove hundreds of thousands of family farmers into foreclosure. But out of that crisis arose a legion of farm advocates who refused to stand idly by and watch their way of life be destroyed. The film’s call to action is to honor the farm advocates and call attention to the need for a new generation of farm advocates, because the need for them is greater than ever, particularly in today’s farm economy.