Cultivating a Networked Learning Community: The Northeast Food Knowledge Ecosystem
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A growing number of campus, community and regionally based food system initiatives are emerging across the US. They represent a diverse and energetically engaged constituency generating valuable insight and models. But for a variety of reasons much of this knowledge is siloed. A lack of awareness or cooperation amongst efforts is resulting in duplication of effort and in some cases competition. Many struggle to clearly articulate program goals which are unique or complementary to other efforts, or demonstrate real world impact within complex and dynamic food systems. At the same time, social, economic and environmental challenges highlight a growing need for agricultural production and food distribution systems suited to and informed by local needs and assets. Some are calling for a transition from fossil fuel input-intensive systems based on “optimized simplicity” to ones more information input-intensive, based on agroecological methods and networks optimizing complexity, supporting locally adapted but globally coordinated resilient food systems. In this presentation, I’ll share details about an initiative responding to these challenges and opportunities, the Northeast Food Knowledge Ecosystem project. Initiated by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in collaboration with several partners (including Land Grant universities and libraries), NEFKE seeks to connect a broad range of agriculture and food systems stakeholders in support of healthy food systems and resilient communities. By “upgrading our information infrastructure” we hope to more effectively link and leverage regional knowledge resources, while helping researchers, educators, and support programs better respond to emerging needs and opportunities. Our work consists of several mutually reinforcing activities, including networked information and communications systems, training and capacity building programs, strategic partnerships, and Communities of Practice. A desired outcome is a networked regional learning community, helping those engaged in agriculture and food systems work more freely collaborate and innovate for both individual benefit and collective impact.
Contributed Papers #3: Outreach
Collaboration; Food Systems; Knowledge Ecosystem; Learning Network; Regional Development; Sustainable Agriculture; Collective Impact