Partnership of Three New England Communities Receives $969k to Advance Farm to Institution Initiatives

Sarah Lyman, Director of Communications

Curly leaf kale

FINE is delighted to announce that we were funded to support a new regional food system partnership of three New England communities, with a $969,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The three-year initiative, Rooted in Community: A localized approach to growing the farm to institution movement in New England, will create a collaborative values-based approach to building a community-based food system that shifts the institutional power dynamics around race. 

The three New England communities of Springfield, MA, New Haven, CT, and Cumberland County, ME, will serve as a cohort for shared learning and implementation of farm to institution initiatives in schools, colleges, health care, and the corrections system. The cohort is  represented by community-based organizations: Springfield Food Policy Council, Cumberland County Food Security Council, and the City of New Haven Food System Policy Division, all of whom are already driving food systems change at the local level. 

In this sobering period of uncertainty, I am buoyed by the opportunity for learning that will inform our communities and hopefully others who witness our work together.
– Liz O’Gilvie, Director, Springfield Food Policy Council

FINE will coordinate and administer the partnership, and connect the local cohort members with regional partners, resources, and training, while sharing stories and strategies developed in each community with the broader food systems network. The partnership will be supported by departments of agriculture in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine.

Rooted in Community will strengthen regional, equitable farm to institution relationships and value chains in each community, which in coordination will lead to greater regional and values-based food procurement across New England, while shifting institutional power dynamics around race. 

This project creates an opportunity to bring more than a decade of experience and learning – through trials, successes, and errors! – from stakeholders across the broad farm to institution network in New England to support these communities. At the same time, the network will gain from the collaboration of this cohort to support ongoing work to foster the change we seek. We see this approach as a core strategy for our collective work moving forward.
– Peter Allison, Executive Director, FINE

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.

Graphic depicting community relationships; cohort connection; and New England impact. More about the Rooted in Community Proposal (excerpt of grant narrative, PDF)


About the USDA RFSP Program

The Regional Food System Partnership is a program of the USDA Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), which recently announced $64M in funding to its 2022 awardees, $7.7 of which support programs in New England. This umbrella program was created in the 2018 Farm Bill, and encompasses the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), Regional Food System Partnerships Program (RFSP), and Value-Added Producer Grants Program (VAPG).