Bringing the Voices of Local Farms & Local Food to the Table

How can we make sure local farmers are represented in the laws and plans created by our local governments?  How can we create better policies that will increase everyone’s access to healthy local food?

The November 2010‘s Monadnock Localvore e-newsletter focused on two types of citizen groups that form to tackle such questions:

Agricultural Commissions & Food Policy Councils

  • How are they similar?
  • How are they different?

What is a Food Policy Council?
Posted on North American Food Policy Council Website

Food Policy Councils (FPCs) bring together stakeholders from diverse food-related sectors to examine how the food system is operating and to develop recommendations on how to improve it. FPCs may take many forms, but are typically either commissioned by state or local government, or predominately a grassroots effort.  While FPC’s are not a new concept, their structures, practices, and policies are still evolving. Although the first Food Policy Council started 30 years ago in the city of Knoxville, only in the last decade have Food Policy Councils really gained momentum, and today there are over 100 councils nationwide.

Sample of Food Policy Councils in New England:
VT: Burlington Food Council
MA: Holyoke Food Policy Council
ME: Saco River Lake Region Food Policy Council

How are AgComs & FPCs similar?

Both groups work to educate government officials and the public and coordinate between existing programs.  Their projects range from creating farm maps to starting farmers markets.

How are they different?
AgComs and FPCs tend to look at food systems through slightly different lenses, with the former focusing on farmers & agricultural land and the latter on increasing access to healthy food & decreasing hunger.  For example, AgComs will work to provide direct services to farmers, where FPCs will take on projects to better transit routes and create community gardens in underserved areas – but both have the vision of creating healthier local food systems.

What’s your interest? Have you participated in either?

Are you interested in bringing the work of AgComms and FPCs to our region?   How can we build upon the work that is already happening to strengthen our local and regional food system? Share your interests and experiences via email or on Facebook.

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