NGFN Webinars: Sustainable US Food System Models

by Winrock International
Vetted

The Wallace Center has long been a leader in supporting local and regional food systems across the United States – from thought leadership and technical assistance to building a stronger network of food hub practitioners and supporters through the National Good Food Network (NGFN). Increasingly, we have been seeing a growing number of good food jobs being created across the country. With this increase, we continue our support of the good food businesses that are helping entrepreneurs, producers, activists, educators, nonprofits, and many others to thrive in this growing sector. One of the ways we support this sector is through our webinars. Our most recent webinars have gone beyond the evidence that good food businesses develop stronger local economies and offer innovative ideas and tools for businesses to deepen their social, economic, and environmental impacts even further.

The NGFN webinars not only provide resources for food businesses to thrive, but they also highlight hot-button topics, and connect viewers and attendees to experts in these areas. Over the past several months, our webinars have examined topics such as healthcare funding and the ways in which healthy, local food can be infiltrated into nonprofit hospitals, cosmetically imperfect produce - what it is and how it is currently being utilized - and a one page cost benefit analysis tool - an easy to use, straightforward tool for budgeting and realizing financial decisions. This month, we’ll also be addressing the state of food hubs in the United States, analyzing an extensive Michigan State University study on food hubs. If you have previously attended one of our NGFN webinars or would like to participate in one of our upcoming webinars, consider showing your support or making a pledge today! Check out our recently aired and upcoming webinars below.

Our Recently Aired Webinars:

August 20, 2015: One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool

“Pencil it out” is shorthand for making good farm investment and purchasing decisions. This session provides a straightforward financial tool for making informed decisions and budgeting for the future.

Making decisions that make good financial sense is difficult. But difficult decisions become a whole lot easier when you have the right tool to walk you through the financial implications of your decision. This session simplifies the concepts of Partial Budget Analysis so that you can “use the parts you’re comfortable with.” The idea is to grow your financial skill set at a pace that makes sense for you, to provide a pathway to improve your abilities rather than terrorize you with details, ratios, and secret formulas intelligible only to accountants.

Learn how this powerfully simple tool can help your business today... and trainers and technical assistance providers who work with farmers or other businesses, learn how you can add this to your toolbox you can provide to your students or clients.

View the recordings, slides, presenter bios and more – visit this webinar’s full web page.

September 24, 2015: Leveraging Healthcare Funding to Build Healthier Communities

The Affordable Care Act updated legal requirements for nonprofit hospitals, mandating them to invest significantly more money in communities to address health disparities, promote population health, and emphasize preventive care services. 

Healthy, fair, green and affordable local food certainly fits the bill! 

This webinar will teach you about the legal provisions requiring nonprofit hospitals to invest in their communities. With that as a starting point, you will learn how your Good Food business or Good Food support organization might tap into this large stream of funding. The panelists will explain the specific steps in the process where food organizations can interact with the nonprofit hospitals to work together to improve food systems, address food insecurity and promote “food for health.” 

Several examples of communities who have worked in partnership with their local hospitals will illustrate how this partnership works in practice. 

View the recordings, slides, presenter bios and more – visit this webinar’s full web page.

October 22, 2015: Beyond Beauty – The Opportunities and Challenges of Cosmetically Imperfect Produce

JoAnne Berkenkamp at Tomorrow’s Table and The Real Food Challenge have been exploring the market - from farmer to processor to college foodservice - of produce that is healthful and delicious, if a little imperfect.  Looking at "imperfects" from the farmer's perspective, this first phase of their research explores realities on the farm and in the marketplace for fruit and veggies that go beyond beauty.

Join us to hear their sometimes surprising insights through a deep dive into this topic.

The webinar begins with a statement of the issue, including some details like why there are imperfections in produce, rates of imperfections, as well as a sense for what growers in Minnesota do with this produce right now. Then we turn to how we can more fully utilize the imperfect produce, including some blue sky thinking… and some possible unintended consequences. The webinar concludes with ideas for bringing such product to market efficiently and policy recommendations.

View the recordings, slides, presenter bios and more – visit this webinar’s full web page.

Our Upcoming Webinars:

November 19, 2015: National Food Hub Survey 2015, 3:30pm-4:45pmEST

Register Now!

What is the state of the food hub across the country?

Join us to learn the latest we know from an in-depth survey that a significant number of US food hubs contributed to. Designed, run and analyzed by Michigan State University's Center for Regional Food Systems in cooperation with the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration, this is truly the definitive word on food hubs in the US.

December 17, 2015: USDA's New Cooperative Approach to Farmer Food Safety Certification, 3:30-4:45pmEST

Register Now!

GroupGAP is a new service (available Spring 2016) from USDA to audit farmers to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Small farmers are feeling the pressure to get third-party certified as more buyers are requiring GAP certification, and as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) puts them under new regulatory oversight. 


In GroupGAP, a food hub, support organization, or central business entity collaborates with producers to establish site-specific best practices for complying with a food safety standard. The group develops and implements a quality management system (QMS) built to an international standard that can be measured, analyzed, reviewed, and continually improved. 

Come hear the experience of a few of the trailblazers - Groups who have already received GroupGAP certification. Why did they seek this certification? How much did it cost? Will they keep up their certification next year? What supports are available? What makes group a good candidate for GroupGAP? What happens if one farmer does not pass an audit? 

Answers to these questions and more!

Links:

The Wallace Center has long been a leader in the field of sustainable food systems in the United States. NGFN specicifically works to strengthen local and regional food systems and build stronger, more resilient economies across the United States through food hubs. With this in mind, the summer months have shared a specifc theme among the National Good Food Network webinars: Economic development. Small, socially and environmentally-minded businesses often lack the initial resources and mentorship to drive their mission forward towards success, and our webinars aim to address this resource gap.

Our webinars offer models, guidance, and a platform for food businesses, nonprofits, farmers, activists and consumers to ask questions from experienced leaders and innovators across a wide spectrum of food systems work. Most recently, our webinar panelists have included experts in food saftey, local distribution and community economics. If you have previously attended one of our NGFN webinars or would like to participate in one of our upcoming webinars, consider showing your support or making a pledge today! Check out our recently aired and upcoming webinars below.

Our Recently Aired Webinars:

June 18, 2015: Pollinating Food Enterprises: Creative New Models for Starting, Supporting, and Financing Local Food Business

View the recording, slides, presenter bios and more - visit this webinar's full web page.

A “pollinator” is a self-financing enterprise committed to boosting local business.  Michael Shuman, author of The Local Economy Solution (Chelsea Green, 2015), argues that these enterprises are the keystone of sustainable economic development.

The current mainstream means to community economic development is to attract large corporate chains to build and stay. Shuman argues that this paradigm is fundamentally misguided, because it overlooks the power and efficiency of locally owned small business. A growing body of evidence underscores that locally owned business can deliver far more economic-development impact—jobs, income, wealth, taxes—than global corporations at a lower cost.  In fact, Shuman shows that local economic development might be possible at zero long-term cost, if planners were to take full advantage of an expanding range of business “pollinators.”

Pollinators carry out all of the basic functions of economic development that are taken on by typical, taxpayer-funded programs, including planning, entrepreneurship training, business partnerships, local purchasing, and local investing. Shuman’s new book shows that pollinators accomplish these functions with far greater efficacy and at a substantially lower cost. The book illustrates the clout of pollinators through 28 case studies, many of which focus on development of local food businesses.  

In this webinar, Shuman delves deep into this transformational idea on sustainable economic development through food (and other) businesses, sharing some of the best models of food-related pollinators. Linda Best, founder of FarmWorks, a local-food investment fund in Nova Scotia, will present an in-depth case study of one of these models.

 

July 23, 2015: Systemic Change: How Formalizing Processes Increases Efficiency

View the recording, slides, presenter bios and more - visit this webinar's full web page.

All businesses have systems. At some point in its development, it makes excellent business sense to document those systems - as the number of employees grow, the sophistication of the business grows, or even as key employees start to think of moving on.

Although there is no "magic bullet" for making your business efficient and reducing risk, formalizing and documenting the jobs and operations the business performs has been shown time and again to have those effects. From faster training of new hires, to decreasing costly errors, to increasing overall quality (ensuring happy customers!) taking a systems approach to your business positively effects your bottom line. Moreover, employees have a sense of confidence, each knowing their jobs, and the workings of the business they need to attend to.

This webinar will introduce how one might incorporate systems to bring your food business to the next level of sophistication, and efficiency. Following an introduction to systems, systems thinking, and its application to business, we will hear two very different case studies to get you thinking of the wide variety of applications. One case study explores achieving third-party food safety certification, the other dives deeply into systematizing employee training.

 

Our Upcoming Webinars

August 20, 2015: One Page Cost Benefit Anaylsis Tool

Register now!

“Pencil it out” is shorthand for making good farm investment and purchasing decisions. This session provides a straightforward financial tool for making informed decisions and budgeting for the future.

Making decisions that make good financial sense is difficult. But difficult decisions become a whole lot easier when you have the right tool to walk you through the financial implications of your decision. This session simplifies the concepts of Partial Budget Analysis so that you can “use the parts you’re comfortable with.” The idea is to grow your financial skill set at a pace that makes sense for you, to provide a pathway to improve your abilities rather than terrorize you with details, ratios, and secret formulas intelligible only to accountants.

Join us to learn how this powerfully simple tool can help your business today... and trainers and technical assistance providers who work with farmers or other businesses, learn how you can add this to your toolbox you can provide to your students or clients.

 

October 15, 2015: National Food Hub Survey 2015:  

Register now!

What is the state of the food hub across the country?

Join us to learn the latest we know from an in-depth survey that a significant number of US food hubs contributed to. Designed, run and analyzed by Michigan State University's Center for Regional Food Systems in cooperation with the NGFN Food Hub Collaboration, this is truly the definitive word on food hubs in the US.

Small and medium-scale farmers face a variety of market challenges, from consistent buyers to dependable crop insurance to food safety certifications. In our work, we acknowledge these diverse challenges facing farmers and strive to connect them with the tools and resources that are appropriate for their unique circumstances. Ultimately, we ask the question, how can we get good, healthy food into local and regional economies so that both the farmer and the community can thrive?

Our NGFN webinars are one way that we begin to address this question. We ensure high quality webinars with expert panelists on a wide range of topics on sustainable food systems. We welcome all those interested in food systems – from the consumer to the farmer – to participate in our webinars, ask questions, and learn something new from the experts and each other. If you’ve attended one of our webinars in the past, or are interested in the one of the future topics, please consider continuing your support or pledging today!

Our recently aired webinars:

April 16, 2015: Discerning Pallets: Grower’s Experiences Selling to Food Hubs

For recording, slides, presenter bios and more, visit this webinar’s full page here.

For this webinar, we have assembled farmers representing a wide variety of experiences – different geographies (CA, MT, MI, and MA), different sizes (from 8 to 400 ac.), different products (vegetables, animals, and mixed) … who sell into different kinds of food hubs (non-profit, for profit, growers co-op) asking different services from them (simple transport, sell-through, and selling to the hub).

Each of these farms has different reasons to work with their local food hub. What works for them? What doesn’t work so well? How do they choose what to sell through the hub? We’ve asked these farmers to share their unedited experiences and advice with their fellow farmers across the country who might now be considering a relationship with a food hub.

Learn how they chose to start selling to the hub, why, what the hub demands of them, what they get in return, how they are managing risks, and how their business' bottom line has been affected.

 

May 14, 2015: Crop Insurance for Small Farms: A Crash Course

For recording, slides, presenter bios and more, visit this webinar’s full page here.

Crop insurance is a critical part of a comprehensive risk management strategy. Matching operations with crop insurance options is important. In addition, identifying and matching a farm's overall business goals to other insurance tools is an important step in the growth and sustainability of the operation. 

Learn about crop insurance options, what it means to be in an insurance contract, how to think about the best options for your farm, or the farms that you advise and work with.

 

Our upcoming webinars:

June 18, 2015: Creative Financing for Food

Register now!

Is access to capital holding your food business back from thriving? 

Whether you run a farm, food hub, processing facility, retail store, co-op or shared kitchen this webinar will introduce you to new and creative sources of capital.

 

August 20, 2015: One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool

Register now!

Making decisions that make good financial sense is difficult. But difficult decisions become a whole lot easier when you have the right tool to walk you through the financial implications of your decision. 

Meet the One Page Cost Benefit Analysis Tool. Recently created by Farm Credit, this tool is designed to make your difficult purchasing (or other financial) decisions a little easier.

Join us to learn how this powerfully simple tool can help your business today, or how you can use this tool to assist the farms and other business owners you work with.

In our work we are often striving to level the playing field for people: how can we make sure that lower income and historically underserved populations have access to  fresh, healthy food? How can we ensure that hard working smallholder farmers using sustainable growing practices are fairly compensated for their efforts?

We feel that the NGFN webinars are a way to enable access to the best thinking in sustainable food systems to all - from those in urban areas to the most remote towns, from those with significant financial resources to those with few resources. Our webinars continue to bring the foremost thinkers and doers in sustainable food systems to all comers. We're proud of what we have accomplished, and are excited to continue. Please consider continuing your support of our webinars, or pledging support for the first time today!

Our upcoming webinars:

March 19: The Million Dollar Question: What is break-even and viability for different food hub models?

Register now!

How much volume does it take for a food hub to be a viable business?
Food hub managers, funders, support organizations, economic development commissions, planners, and investors are all asking this same question!
On one hand, this is an impossible question to answer with a single number since there are diverse food hub models and management structures. And context matters: the region of the country, urban vs. rural, and others.
This webinar will give you the tools to do your own analysis for your particular hub. By peering into the operations and financial books of several illustrative examples of different hypothetical hubs, we tease apart those “magic numbers” – where each model reaches profitability, and true viability. By using an approach based on hypothetical hubs, we can see how the finances change as we adjust certain parameters.
Two of the best respected thinkers on US food hubs will give you the tools to do your own analysis of food hub viability.

April 16: Discerning Pallets: Grower's Experiences Selling Their Crops Through Food Hubs

Register now!

What is it like to sell through a food hub?

Hear farmers from different regions of the country talk about their experiences - the good and bad - of selling through their local food hub.

Learn how they chose to start selling to the hub, why, what the hub demands of them, what they get in return, how they are managing risks, and how their business' bottom line has been affected.

Considering selling through a hub? Learn from the experience of your peers.

May 14: Crop Insurance for Small Farms: A Crash Course

Register now!

Crop insurance can be an effective risk management strategy, or it can be a waste of money. It all depends on matching your operation with the correct insurance option.

Learn about some interesting crop insurance options now available to farmers, and how to decide what option is best for your farm.

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And as always, we record and archive our past webinars. This year so far we have had two terrific webinars. I've heard more good things about these webinars than usual!

January 22, 2015: Talk is Cheap ... and Efficient! Facilitating value chain development without costly new infrastructure

Watch the recording

Let's face it: food hubs are sexy! So are other Good Food infrastructure projects, such as region-scaled meat processing plants.

And for good reason: these businesses are often filling gaps or bottlenecks in regional and local food systems.

However, sometimes it's not a LACK of infrastructure that leads to bottlenecks; it is incomplete or inefficient USE of the infrastructure that stymies the system.

"Value Chain Coordinators" are people who work to connect the dots in a value chain. They ensure the right people, goods and resources connect with each other. Most often value chain coordinators work outside day-to-day business operations, a vantage point that offers a unique perspective on the optimal solutions in a regional market.

This expanded webinar dives deep into the approaches people across the country are taking to improve the food system without costly new infrastructure.

 

February 19, 2015: A Look Back, A Path Forward: Lessons Learned from the Food Hub Vanguard - Grasshoppers Distribution

Watch the recording

Grasshoppers Distribution LLC, an NGFN Food Hub Collaboration Study Hub, was a food hub in Louisville, Kentucky, that was established in 2006 by four Kentucky farmers seeking to connect regional products with local markets. It grew to nearly one million dollars in annual sales of local farm products, before closing its doors in December of 2013. Over the course of its operations, Grasshoppers worked with over 70 different food producers, and directed over $2.25 million into the hands of local farmers and food entrepreneurs.

Grasshoppers underwent many transitions within its lifetime including changes in business model and leadership. They were true pioneers in promoting and providing regionally produced foods in Kentucky. They opened their doors just before the onset of the Great Recession, and adapted to new challenges and opportunities as public interest in local food expanded. Grasshoppers forged a new path to the unique opportunities and challenges in regional food system development.

This webinar examines the story behind the evolution of Grasshoppers and explores key challenges, best practices, lessons learned, and the organization’s lasting impact on Kentucky agriculture and the local food sector.

Join us for this valuable opportunity to learn from a food hub at the vanguard!

It's been a slow season at the NGFN Webinars... but it has NOT been slow in the Good Food world! The thousands of practitioners in the NGFN are making incredible process in getting healthy, fair, affordable, green food to all communities.

We are excited for the upcoming year of NGFN webinars! We have some incredible topics planned with the best minds, and the most experienced practitioners there to share their wisdom with you. We're not quite ready to announce most of them, but topics include looking at the roots of success and failure of food hubs, the "million dollar question" about how big an aggregator/distributor must be to be viable, creative ways to access capital, updates on the Food Safey Modernization Act, and more, more, more! This is looking to be onw of the most exciting years of webinars to date!

Here's one we are ready to announce!

January 22, 2015

Talk Is Cheap … and Efficient - Facilitating value chain development without costly new infrastructure

Register Now!

Let's face it: food hubs are sexy! So are other Good Food infrastructure projects, such as region-scaled meat processing plants.

And for good reason: these businesses are often filling gaps or bottlenecks in regional and local food systems.

However, those of us who support Good Food systems across the country are noticing that sometimes it's not a LACK of infrastructure that leads to bottlenecks - it is incomplete or inefficient USE of the infrastructure.

This webinar digs DEEP into many ways people are building a stronger Good Food system... without actually BUILDING anything!

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AND AS ALWAYS - review our large and growing library of recorded webinars: http://ngfn.org/webinars

 

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Organization Information

Winrock International

Location: Little Rock, AR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.winrock.org
Project Leader:
Jeff Farbman
Program Associate
Arlington, VA United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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