Mid-Shore Resilient Food System Strategic Planning Session – Groundwork
Thank You To All Who Attended and/or Contributed!
On May 12, 2015, invitees met for a strategic planning session on the Chesapeake College campus for integration, analysis, and future planning.
The aim was to:
- Gain a complete regional understanding of the food system, its strengths, and its weaknesses, from a diverse set of viewpoints;
- Engage in networking and capacity-building among participants; and
- Identify and prioritize coordinated actions among participants to make real, meaningful changes to the food system.
Also present were regional workforce-development and economic-development personnel, with the explicit goal of identifying education and training pathways that lead people to jobs in the regional food system.
Table of Contents
- Producers – Farmers, agriculture, food production, food processing, etc.
- Marketers – Food marketers, grocery stores, etc.
- Land Use & Environmentalists – Environmental advocacy, land use planning & permitting, enforcement entities, etc.
- Medical & Educators – Medical personnel, including pediatricians, GPs, family-practice doctors, nutrition counselors, and dentists, educators and child-care experts, etc.
- Purchasers & Consumers – Low-to-Moderate Income Consumers, institutional purchasers, foodies, restaurateurs, grocery stores, etc.
- Faith Communities & Hunger Advocates – From any denomination and belief system, Hunger Advocates, etc.
- Transportation & Logistics – Including trucking and regional transit authorities, etc.
- Waste – Disposal, gleaners, landfill operators, etc.
- Other –
We had a great event thanks to all who took the time to attend and contribute.
Conversation Mapping is a way to get a lot of information from a lot of people in a very short time. This technique allowed us all to have numerous conversations simultaneously, but without the noise and chaos a group conversation would normally engender.
How did we do this? SILENTLY!
On a tabletop-sized piece of paper, we wrote a trigger subject: “Eastern Shore Food System 2030.” Starting from there, participants wrote comments in threaded conversations. The first comment might have been a concern, a question, or a comment. Everyone else at that table read everyone else’s questions and concerns and comments, and had the freedom to address that first comment, or answer that first question. As the exercise progressed, participants had the time to add comments, building the conversation through suggestions, further comments, or even disagreements.
Some tips before we started included:
- Don’t forget to write down your questions, comments and thoughts, and use specific language so people will better understand where you’re coming from.
- Keep the writing small so they can fit everything.
- Please don’t cross lines
How does this actually work? Neoma set up this example:
Say we have a trigger: Healthy water system. The first contributor thinks about infrastructure “we need to improve infrastructure BECAUSE the town is growing. The because is important here. It isn’t just about “we need to improve infrastructure” we need a reason why, so every time you have a comment you want the “because” in there, so people better understand where you’re coming from.
The next person, they have a different approach to a healthy water system. They are concerned. They don’t trust the system BECAUSE last year they had to boil their water.
SO another person around the table wants to comment on infrastructure. They write “how do we do that when the community has no money”? They have a question. Someone might answer that question or someone might add other questions to it.
Another person, they’re concerned about the safety of the system as well but they’re not even sure if its still safe to drink. So they’re building on the first comment with a question of their own.
This is how conversation mapping works and it will continue on until all of the information that is in your heads, is now down on paper.
Remember the most important thing here is writing! Write your questions about the trigger issue, write your comments about the trigger issue, even your disagreements with the comments or questions. But the most important thing to remember is that during this exercise there is no talking!
Conversation Mapping Exercise –
Dividing up the Maps: Outlining Conversations
For a brief analysis, we visually divided conversation maps into conversational “threads.” We stood around our tables, looking for the those first bubbles that responded to the trigger statement. The person standing closest to an original response bubble synthesized that particular bubble’s conversation.
Using a marker, they traced the outline of the conversation, producing a map that looked something like pie pieces.
Synthesis: Finding Larger Themes
Participants now took a few minutes to read through the conversation in each pie piece, and then summarized the theme of that particular branch of the conversation in writing.
Next, participants took turns reading summaries to the group. Then, as a group, they discussed and summarized the entire map, and shared their summaries with the room.
A Word Cloud Produced from a Conversation Map:
Getting to the Future: “Futuring,” or “Wind Tunneling”
This exercise built on what we produced during the Conversation Mapping exercise and laid the groundwork for a food-system strategic plan. We created a large grid with stakeholder groups in horizontal rows. During registration, participants self-identified with the following stakeholder groups/tribes:
- Purchasers & Consumers
- Social Services
- Environmental & Land Use
- Faith Communities and Hunger Advocates
Across the top, we entered these 5 general values as headings, and generated a “future headline” for each heading, using the summaries from the “conversation mapping” exercise earlier in the day:
- Economic Development
- Food Security
Participants responded to headings by writing responses on Post-It notes and sticking them on the grid. For example, they looked at the intersection of “environmental” and “producers,” wrote their responses on a sticky note, and placed it in that space on the grid:
We noted areas where there were lots of suggestions, and areas that were blanks. Blanks represented areas that participants had not thought about before, or those which presented particularly difficult challenges.
- The Creation of a Strategic Plan
- To view or contribute to the Strategic Plan, follow this link.
- Formation of a Coalition to see the plan is put into action.
- Everyone who took the time to participate today
- The Farmers and Producers for this wonderful lunch
- MidShore Community Mediation Center
- Community Mediation Upper Shore
- Town Creek Foundation
- Chesapeake College
- Bruce Forgrave
- Greg Rohman
- Clovelly Vineyard, Chestertown Md – Riverside red wine
- St. Brigid’s Farm, Kennedyville, MD – 32.5 lbs Top Round Roast
- Provident Organic Farm, Bivalve, MD – 4lbs Curly kale, 24 bunches beets and greens, 3 bunches carrots, 3 bunches scallions, 3 bunches leeks
- Chapel’s Country Creamery, Easton, MD – 3.54 lbs Crab spice cheddar, 7.95 lbs Chapel Cheddar, 2.39 lbs Amber 16 Cheddar, 4.37 lbs Chapelle
- S.B. Farms, Hurlock, Md – 15 lbs Ground bison
- Harris Farms, Hurlock, MD 15 bunches asparagus
- The Bay Mushrooms – Cambridge Md. 8 x 4.25 oz oyster and 9 x 3.5 oz baby shitake.
- Pappardelle Pasta, Colorado. 20 lbs Pacific Rim pasta and trumpet herb blend.
- Chesapeake Soaps, Chestertown MD – 1 qt honey –
- Blades Orchard, Federalsburg, MD – 16 quarts strawberries –
- Salters Chesapeake Gourmet, Oxford, MD- 5 blueberry lavender and 5 raspberry jams, 60 assorted scones
- CD Produce, Cordova MD – 15 bunches asparagus, green and purple
- The Oxford Market – 50 muffins, 50 croissant, 10 focaccia, 10 wheat loaf
- Blackbottom Farms, St. Michaels MD – 9 dozen pastured organic eggs
- Rise Up Coffee, Easton, MD – 5lbs regular, 2lbs decaf
- Nice Farms Creamery, Federalsburg, MD – 3lbs butter, 6 gallons ice cream, 8 quarts assorted yogurts, gallon equivalent of 75 cups milk
- Homestead Organic Farms, Millington, MD – 7 lbs mixed greens, 2lbs radish
- Cottingham Farms, Easton MD – 7lbs mixed greens, Basil, 2 lbs radishes, Bushel equivalent of Mixed greens -kale collards, mustard, turnips cooking greens -3lbs Spinach , Cilantro, parsley, genovese & lemon basil