Note: This article was originally published October 20, 2011.
Many of you attended one of the six Regional Roundtables on West Virginia Food and Farms that took place in April-May 2011. You brainstormed great ideas and contributed to the ongoing development of a West Virginia Food Charter — a roadmap for action that will help us all focus, measure and celebrate our collective progress towards a stronger local food system. Over the summer, WVFFC released notes on all of the roundtables as well as an Executive Summary of findings from the roundtables, including results from the questionnaires that were distributed during the meetings. Now it’s fall, and you’re asking, “what happens next?”
So, here’s an update on what is coming up over the next few months. The update includes ways that many of you can stay involved, such as joining a working group or hosting a mini-roundtable in your own community.
Expert Practitioner Roundtables
In November, the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, the West Virginia Small Farm Center at WVU Extension Service and the West Virginia Department of Education are partnering to hold two “Professional Practitioner Roundtables” as a means of engaging extension agents and agriculture education teachers in a systemic, regional approach to thinking about local food. The objective of the meetings will be to add to the citizen recommendations from the Regional Roundtables and discuss the roles that knowledgeable extension and high school educators can play in turning these recommendations into realities.
The first facilitated Professional Practitioner roundtable will take place on November 1, when extension agents from all four of the programs under WVU Extension Service (Families and Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Community Development 4H) will be together for WVU Extension Service’s Annual Conference. The roundtable will offer a rare opportunity for agents from all of these programs to think together about how to build the food systems in each of their regions. On November 10, a similar facilitated roundtable will be repeated with Agriculture Education and FFA teachers at their own training conference, and will be co-hosted by the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Instruction.
Mini-Roundtables In Your Town
If you are interested in hosting your own mini-roundtable in your community, contact Savanna Lyons at (304) 673-0053 email@example.com to receive facilitation materials. The notes from any mini-roundtables will be included in the information given to the Working Groups in January. Because only 44 of the 55 West Virginia counties participated in the regional roundtables, we are especially interested in hearing from the areas that were underrepresented.
Working Groups Convene
The convening of Working Groups to further develop the Food Charter is now set for January 2012. Those who attended the roundtables and expressed interest in the Working Groups, as well as other key stakeholders and each person on our mailing list, will receive an invitation to the meeting in January. The January meeting will include an overview of all the roundtables that have taken place. Working in themed topic-area groups, participants at this meeting will help turn the regional roundtables’ broad goals into a more specific, measurable action plan.
Food Charter Release by May 2012
May 2012 is planned to be the birthday of the West Virginia Food Charter… and the beginning of our collaborative efforts to act on its goals. Your help will be needed in raising awareness about the Food Charter among local organizations and public officials, and you will be invited to adapt the Charter for use in your own community.
Thank you for your passion about building the local food economy… look for more information soon!