A Powerful Food Movement Democratically Transforms New England Food System to Sustainability and Resilience
FSNE exponentially scales the network to serve continued movement building that democratically transforms our regional food system.
Evolution to core periphery involves thicker ties at a larger core that draws in more partners from the periphery as the value of the core increases.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Food Solutions New England is the lead entity. FSNE is coordinated by the UNH Sustainability Institute; legal entity is UNH Foundation.
Lead Applicant Organization Type
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (small NGO)
Farm to Institution New England (small NGO)
Harvard Forest (Researcher Institution)
Henry P. Kendall Foundation (small NGO)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
New England, a six-state region in northeast United States, has a total land area of 186,460 km^2.
What country is your selected Place located in?
United States of America
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Food Solutions New England (FSNE) is a place-based network working in support of a movement to transform the region’s food system into a resilient driver of healthy food for all, racial equity, sustainable farming and fishing and thriving communities. The University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute (UNHSI) is the lead convenor of FSNE and has served as the network’s backbone organization since its inception in 2011. As a public land-, sea-, and space- grant university, UNH is dedicated to place and the public good. The Sustainability Institute was established in 1997 and is guided by an ethic that responds to urgent, complex challenges with transdisciplinary approaches that engage diverse partners on and beyond the campus. UNHSI’s approach is rooted in the work of the international scientific and policy community and understands that sustainability entails sustaining the integrity of key systems that underpin quality of life: climate and energy, biodiversity and ecosystems, food systems, and culture.
In 2010, UNHSI convened partners from across the region to ask “what can we do better together as a region than we can do as individual states to transition towards a sustainable, resilient food system?” Those conversations resulted in the convening of the first New England food summit in 2011 and the New England Food Vision. Working with core partners that include the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, the Harvard Forest, Farm to Institution New England, and the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, we, and many other partner institutions, organizations, and networks are deeply committed to the values and commitments that FSNE has articulated and to collaboratively serve the movement to transition to a democratic and resilient food system for our region.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
New England is a place of forests, hills, mountains, and coastlines where cities, villages, farms, and seaports surround colleges and high-tech companies. The region’s distinct seasonality across its six state area has historically had relatively short summers and long winters separated by autumn and spring each with their own discernable patterns. New England is known for its dramatic fall season foliage as the shortening days trigger an explosion of color in certain deciduous trees across the region. New England is a place where history and modern life are intimately connected, including a violent colonial history impacting a subsection of the larger native Algonquian territories. Our history includes the enslavement of indigenous and African peoples and the appropriation of land, knowledge, and cultural practices. Today, service industries, technology, medicine, tourism, and education are driving economic forces, and development dominates a growing part of the landscape. The enduring presence of native peoples, racial and economic inequality and urban and rural poverty woven together with dairy farms, vegetable stands, sugar houses, and fishing boats testifies to the complex cultural heritage that underlies our landscape and seascape.
Eating local food is not new to New England. From precolonial times well into the 19th century, the region’s food systems were based on foraging, hunting, agriculture and fishing. Food production once engaged most of the people in New England but now is a small component of the regional economy, occupying only a fraction of the population. Over the past four centuries New England has gone from a largely wooded to a predominantly agricultural landscape, then returned to forest. The amount of land producing food today is very small—only about 5% (less than 2 million acres) of a region with almost 15 million inhabitants. Commercial fishing, once a major industry, now struggles to survive. Fish and shellfish have been part of the region’s diet and culture since long before European contact. The fisheries of the Gulf of Maine, Cape Cod, Long Island Sound, and Georges Bank have a long history of providing food for people in New England and livelihoods for those who work these waters. They have the potential to produce a great abundance of seafood for the region.
There is hope and movement building underway. The decline of farms and farmland acreage has bottomed out since 1970, and there has been a recent upturn toward more (mostly small) farms as well as urban agriculture and permaculture. Many in New England strive to eat local seafood and support local farmers: “No Farms, No Food” bumper stickers are ubiquitous. The region’s remaining farmers and fishers have shown skill, innovation, and determination, while nonprofit organizations and state food system planning networks work together to protect farmland and support local agriculture and fishing. (Based on excerpts from the 2014 New England Food Vision.)
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
New England’s food system is being driven by forces operating at the national and global scale; a condition of dependence we suffer in common with most other parts of the world. We consume excessive amounts of refined grains, fats, and sugars and too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other food-related health problems shorten lives. Driven by public policies and subsidies that exacerbate corporate consolidation and control and diet-related disease, many distrust the safety of our food and feel disconnected from its sources. About 90% of New England's food comes from outside the region brought here by a global system that produces abundant commodities but also undermines the planet’s soils, waters, and climate and exploits people and communities all along the supply chain. Despite food abundance, as many as 10–15% of people in New England regularly go hungry, while farmland and fisheries decline and farmers and fishers are driven from the land and the sea by economic policies favoring corporate consolidation. Collectively, these factors constitute a food system crisis.
By 2050, the climate crisis will have dramatically worsened, almost certainly making food less abundant and more expensive to import. Within New England, risks and vulnerabilities will grow, driven by a range of climate shifts including increasing rainfall, flooding, and storm intensity, ocean temperature, acidification and sea level rise. The region’s distinct seasonality will have shifted and disrupted land and sea ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities. And unless trends shift, continued corporate consolidation and wealth concentration will exacerbate already crippling racial, ethnic, and economic disparities. Decisions that we make over the next decade will determine our resilience and adaptive capacity.
Seeds of a democratic and resilient food system have taken root across New England, but they will need to multiply dramatically, and connect around values of justice and equity that transcend differences to constitute a coherent and durable food movement capable of overcoming opposing forces. A New England Food Vision, published in 2014, has informed food policy planning in all states in the region, and collaboration to implement the vision continues. And each of the region’s states have food system networks that work as a community of practice and align with the FSNE vision and values. Yet we urgently need a more connected and coordinated regional approach to guide our transition towards sustainability and resilience. The challenge now is to redesign the food system, through relationships built upon trust and sharing of power, into a transformational regional food movement.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Our vision for the FSNE is to exponentially scale the network to address the challenges of fragmentation and serve continued movement building to support democratic redesigning our food system. Amidst transformational changes in the Earth’s systems, technology, demographics, political economy, and eating patterns, we’ll get to scale through a participatory process of updating the New England Food Vision including larger food system summits and other strategic convenings employing diverse virtual and face-to-face formats; robust, coordinated communications around a shared narrative and stories; leadership development programs; and skill building around racial equity. The updated Vision addresses the climate crisis, racial equity, food technologies and related disruptive trends, and intersectional ties to related movements such as fair wages, housing, and health. Through these practices and initiatives, we will collaboratively strengthen the conditions for emergence around power building, sharing and shifting.
Along with others around the world, we see the next ten years as a pivotal decade in which the movement for transformational change must successfully shift the patterns of our food system towards sustainability and resilience. Because the food system is interconnected with other issues including justice, energy, health, housing, education, transportation, economics, and politics, our approach will be intersectional with diverse movement building networks. We will build relationships, processes, structures, and norms that address these interrelated challenges. This is an iterative and adaptive process which values emergent dynamics that move us in the right direction.
Our vision for 2050 builds on a decade of creating collaborative infrastructure including the New England Food Vision, network values, and trust building. Since 2010 FSNE has engaged thousands of diverse stakeholders and built collaborative relationships convening six regional food summits, developing the New England Food Vision, undertaking system mapping, initiating annual 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, and convening annual Network Leadership Institute. Aligning around the New England Food Vision and network values - racial equity and food justice, sustainable farming and fishing, healthy food for all, thriving communities, and democratic empowerment - contributes to a regional movement mobilizing to build a food system that works for everyone. FSNE developed in collaboration with the emergence of state food system networks in each of the six New England states. The network is currently facilitating collaboration in support of movement-building toward a cultural shift in foodways that includes an update of the Food Vision, shared narrative, developing values-based indicators for our food system, a policy platform, and strategic convening.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
In 2025 the six Governors sign the New England Food Resilience Compact, an agreement among the New England states to uphold the vision and values rooted in racial equity and dignity for all, democratic process, regenerative ecosystems, and thriving rural, urban, and maritime communities. Working with each of the region’s state food system networks and the research community, the New England Food Resilience Index is adopted in 2028 as the framework ensuring transparency and accountability for the region’s food system. The index integrates data, stories, and practitioner and cultural knowledge from public convenings across the region and guides public and private investment in service to the Vision's core values. By 2050, integrated regional markets, infrastructure, and policies facilitate fair prices, livable wages, and sustainable livelihoods for food providers and eaters from farm and boat to fork and plate.
On the land, New England experiences a soil renaissance. Farmers employ multiple forms of knowledge to produce at least 50% of the region’s food while sequestering carbon. New England’s forest cover remains at 70% providing important ecosystem services, including carbon storage, and food and wood products. On the sea our fisheries no longer export the vast majority of our catch, and instead supply our own regional markets through wild harvest, sustainable aquaculture, and ocean farming. The structure of the fisheries industry transitions to investing in family and small-scale operations that fish with the ecosystem’s dynamics and avoid waste. At the table, New England diets move toward what the original New England Food Vision called “Regional Reliance.” While that eating pattern consists of much less industrially-produced meat, it includes an increased percentage of regional grass-based meat and more plant-based foods, and it remains diverse, creative, and healthy, reflecting the region’s ecology and the core values of the New England Food Resilience Compact.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
This sequence from left to right is dynamic and always being repeated as more network participants are connected and align around values which builds trust and facilitates "production" or collective actions. The underlying trust and connectivity enable rapid mobilization and serve movement building and strengthening
This is a visual depiction of the leverage areas that emerged from FSNE's system mapping process. The image is an effort to make an otherwise complex framework intuitive and accessible. While a literal path may suggest linear dynamics, the trade off is that it has been accessible to many different types of stakeholders.
In 2020 the deepening climate crisis casts a growing shadow of unease over our region and our food system as more and more people begin to imagine the real possibility of disruption, instability, and widespread food insecurity. As the dominant food system continues to fail the region’s farmers, fishers, and eaters, FSNE and other advocates and networks build larger and deeper intersectional coalitions capable of shifting the influencers of the existing system towards sustainability and resilience. Through values-based convening, communications, research, organizing, and advocacy, a powerful multi-sectoral movement emerges to demand and drive food system transformation. In 2021 FSNE joins others in issuing a farmland, forest, and coastal waters protection agreement that is introduced and passed by all six state legislatures. This agreement marks an important turning point in the region not only because it puts a stake in the ground to say “no more” undercutting of the ecological foundation of a sustainable and resilient food future, but because it feeds the civic imagination of many in the region by demonstrating the collective power of a movement unified in values and shared commitments.
Over the next three years, FSNE works with many other civil society groups and networks to convene both sectoral and intersectional stakeholders that are embracing the deep, regional interdependence of our urban, rural, and maritime communities and our shared food future. As the regional food movement continues to build power, the voices of those who were dispossessed of their land long ago and those with generations of experience with food insecurity and economic inequality driven by structural racism are central to the work of the network as is their leadership in the movement. In 2024, FSNE joins others in issuing the New England Food Resilience Compact that is introduced and passed by the six state legislatures. In 2025, the region’s six Governors attend the regional food summit where they sign the Compact. The Compact commits states to collaboratively uphold and financially invest in the vision and values of a regional food system rooted in racial equity and dignity for all, democratic process, regenerative ecosystems, and thriving rural, urban, and maritime communities.
The stability and commitment of these foundational public policies and investments creates conditions that attract a significant flow of private capital from philanthropy, impact investors, community development finance corporations, and banks. These conditions are reinforced by the region’s educational and healthcare institutions that align their significant purchasing power with the shared vision and values. The institutional market has been developing steadily through network building and knowledge sharing since 2010 and by 2025 constitutes a critical market anchor around which farm, fish, and food entrepreneurs are able to branch out through a rapidly expanding cooperative movement connecting farm and boat to fork and plate with minimal waste. On the land, a new generation of farmers of color are part of a soil renaissance that provides food while sequestering carbon; importantly, farmers are receiving ecosystem service payments for their practices. This important revenue for farm resilience is facilitated by research-based standards and technology that enables field-level carbon measurement, digital management records, remote sensing, predictive analytics, and input and economic management decision support.
On the sea our fisheries industry no longer exports the majority of our catch, but instead supplies our regional markets through wild harvest, sustainable aquaculture, and ocean farming. Through the Food Resilience Compact, the structure of the fisheries and the growing ocean farming industry transitions to one that invests in family and community-based operations that fish and farm with the ecosystem’s dynamics and avoid waste. Ocean farming along the region’s coastal waters is ecologically sound, focused on seaweed and shellfish, and provides food, fertilizer, and feed while improving the health of the ecosystem. It is also scaled to family and community-based enterprises including urban shell fishers. As on the land, these providers are receiving ecosystem service payments for filtering nitrogen from coastal waters. Importantly, the Compact sets policies that mitigate the threat of bringing the destructiveness of industrial factory farming on land into our coastal waters, and our congressional delegations are driving federal legislation in concert with a powerful coalition of coastal state delegations with shared goals.
At the table, New England diets are moving towards what the original New England Food Vision called “Regional Reliance” that consists of less meat and more plant-based foods but remains diverse, creative, and healthy; and it reflects the region’s ecology and the core values of the New England Food Resilience Compact. New England’s food ways are evolving but they continue to reflect an outlook that sees regional livestock, plants, fish, shellfish, and seaweeds as the foundation of a place-based diet that is healthy, restorative, and regenerative while remaining diverse and delicious. Increasingly, people in New England see themselves as co-producers of not just the food that they eat, but of an agrarian and maritime landscape and seascape that feeds a sense of place and both nurtures and is nurtured by thriving rural, urban and maritime communities engaged in providing food to one another.
The 2025 Food Resilience Compact calls for the establishment of a Food Resilience Index for the region to track key trends within and beyond our food system that can provide a shared reference point to people in New England as we adaptively manage and govern our food future. From 2025 through 2027, FSNE joins with others to convene the region’s public and private universities and diverse food system stakeholders to establish a version 1.0 of the Index that is adopted by New England Governors in 2028. A multi stakeholder research committee is established to adaptively manage the index going forward. The Compact and the Index are not about regional food self-sufficiency but rather about resilience and the ability to adaptively shape our own food future including our response to larger political, cultural, economic, and technological forces as well as the climate crisis and other transformations of the Earth system.
By 2028, key elements of the foundation for a dynamic and iterative shift towards a sustainable and resilient regional food system are established and FSNE has played a unique and essential role. Much work remains to be done, but the roots of a democratic food system have been firmly established to constitute a coherent and durable food movement. These foundational elements can be seen as the part of the cultural iceberg floating below the surface, often out of sight, where worldviews, core values, and patterns of thought shape outlooks and actions. They can also be seen as some of the ultimate drivers of our actions linked to power structures, norms, and processes that shape the food system and our vision for a transformative food system network.
As we work to exponentially scale the network to address the challenges we have framed, FSNE remains grounded in a food systems frame rooted in sustainability and resilience. FSNE’s outlook is integrative and encompasses a range of values-based, systemic perspectives including the following:
-A Landscape and Seascape perspective that is both agrarian and maritime. From this perspective we continually ask how can our regional food system both nurture and be nurtured by thriving rural, urban, and maritime communities that contribute to and benefit from sustainable farming and fishing and healthy food for all? How can our regional food system drive health and integrity across a landscape that maintains 70% forest cover?
-A Racial Equity and Dignity for All perspective that continually asks how can our regional food system dismantle racism and act as a driver of racial equity and dignity for all people in New England. How do the political and economic systems including access to land and sea, working capital, and education address historical injustices through reparations and other means as a core sustainability and resilience strategy?
-A Democratic Empowerment perspective that values and celebrates the political power of all people in New England and continually asks how can we mobilize our collective power to democratically shape our food future in the face of powerful global and national counter forces including corporate consolidation of power and wealth in the food system? How can we translate our collective power to drive local, state, and federal policies that serve our shared values and aspirations?
-A Sustainability perspective that sees that our food system is interconnected with the health of our environment and people, our democracy, and our economy and recognizes that sustaining independence and diversity requires interdependence, solidarity, and unity and continually asks: How can we evolve a cultural landscape of trust, solidarity, respect and integrity that underpins our political, economic, and ecological relationships?
The updated Food Solutions New England (FSNE) vision and approach that launches the next iteration of transformative food system work in the region builds upon a decade of collaborative, community engaged effort to develop the first New England Food Vision. The Vision evolved over several year and figured prominently in a series of regional and state summits, briefings, network design meetings, and workshops that provided critical feedback and built strong connections across FSNE and other networks. The updated Vision will serve the same purpose as we exponentially scale the network going forward our values inform everything we do.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
Over the course of the refinement phase the vision became more grounded in several ways: first through the range of stakeholders who agreed to engage as vision partners and readers; second through integration of three initiatives[CC1] that were all overlapping with the vision process:
a regional policy coordination effort looking at integrated approaches to food access and diets, farmland protection, forestland conservation, and fisheries that included an FSNE co-hosted gathering of 200 stakeholder just prior to the pandemic;
an emerging initiative to build resilience in New England’s food supply chain initiated by the region’s state-level food system planning teams in collaboration with FSNE;
and the development of a regional governance approach to the food system to advance the vision and values of FSNE and the New England Food Vision, and Wildlands & Woodlands vision.
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
American Farmland Trust
Cooperative Development Institute
Farm to Institution New England
Henry P. Kendall Foundation
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
National Family Farm Coalition
New England Food Systems Planners Partnership (comprised of Vermont Farm to Plate, New Hampshire Food Alliance, Maine Food Strategy, Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, Rhode Island Food Policy Council, Connecticut Food System Collective)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative
University of New Hampshire/Sustainability Institute
Urban Farming Institute
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
Our process encompassed the following steps, which were all virtual due to the pandemic:
1) We gathered the Phase I partners to review the refinement questions and identify additional partners to participate in the refinement phase. As a result, we added the following perspectives and knowledge to our initial set of partners: farmland protection, agricultural land trusts, and regenerative agriculture; cooperative enterprise development; urban farming and community building; private sector organic food enterprise with national distribution; global knowledge network of farms and supply chains focused on quantifying ecosystem service improvements; a non-profit demonstration farm and educational resource center for innovative practices in regenerative agriculture; a partnership of food system planners from the region; and an emerging collaborative network of farmers of color in southern New England.
2) We convened several meetings with partners to develop and refine the proposal. Between meetings, we circulated drafts of the Vision, collecting and integrating feedback.
3) We invited 25 regional food system actors, and members of the FSNE Network Team not already participating in the project to serve as “readers” to provide feedback. This feedback was collected and integrated into the final Vision.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
The FSNE refined vision draws from a series of trends and signals* in data, stories, and projects in which we have been deeply involved for the past decade. Some of these signals continue to push the region towards consolidation and loss of food production and sovereignty, while others move in the direction of the Vision. Social drivers include the continued growth of an integrated network and movement building by collaborators like Food Solutions New England, Wildlands & Woodlands, Farm to Institution New England, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Health Care Without Harm New England, American Farmland Trust–New England, the Urban Farming Institute, the Cooperative Development Institute, the Real Food Challenge, and state-level food system planning initiatives and farm-to-school efforts.
Demographics are a strong driver and signal of change, particularly the aging of the region’s farm owners and the rise of the next generation, including new immigrant farmers requiring access to land. Social signals include the Milk With Dignity campaign organized by Migrant Justice to secure dignified working conditions in dairy supply chains, the first Intertribal Summit on Food Sovereignty in New England, and early climate crisis-driven migration to the region.
Technological signals include the significant jump in online ordering and home delivery from local producers in response to Covid-19 disruptions, the development of a farmer-driven, interoperable platform to support regenerative practices; adoption of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, organized resistance to a proposed industrial aquaculture project, response to an Executive Order to expand factory fish farms and deregulate the fishing industry, and research on and adoption of multiple forms of regenerative agriculture including urban permaculture and food forestry.
Economic drivers include institutional procurement of local and regional food by schools, colleges, hospitals, and correctional facilities; federal milk pricing and fisheries policies that drive farmers and fisheries into cycles of debt; the exclusionary cost of land and the pressure on aging farm and forest landowners to sell their land for retirement.
Environmental drivers are cascading impacts of the climate crisis including sea-level rise, shifting seasonality, extreme weather events and altered precipitation patterns, land use changes and development pressures, recovery of coastal forest, wetlands, and oyster reefs and other “living shoreline” approaches to coastal resilience.
Political drivers include the nationwide polarization of public discourse, emerging leadership at state and regional levels on climate change, fossil fuel use, soil health, resilience planning, continued high demand for locally-grown food and interest in farming among young people; steady growth in local land trusts and their capacity to connect farmers with working land.
* See Question 4.pdf attachment
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
A visual depiction of the transition from present a day in the life of Amina in 2050. Courtesy of the artist, Brenna Quinlan.
Amina awakens in Springfield, Massachusetts. She has been nominated to the New England Food and Forest Policy Council (NEFFPC), which is central to the region’s food system governance. Amina’s nomination recognizes her leadership in the community as a parent and in her role in helping to form a cooperative food hub housed in a repurposed shopping mall.
Born in Boston in 2020, Amina’s father, a first generation Jamaican immigrant, succumbed to COVID-19 when she was just 3 months old, along with his sister and one of his cousins. Her mother raised her and her brothers, and she has vivid memories of community gardening as a vital part of making it through the devastation of those early years. In 2041, Amina graduated from the network leadership institute of FSNE. Inspired by her peers and the work of the regional network, Amina participated in the regenerative agriculture apprenticeship program of the NEFFPC. She and her life partner then moved to Springfield,100 miles inland, to join fellow apprenticeship graduates in establishing the cooperative food hub.
Springfield had strong community organizing that enabled communities to weather the storm of COVID-19 and subsequent disruptions. The city’s democratically-governed network of cooperative gardens is critical to its resilience. In the late 20s, Springfield emerged as a hub in the western New England agricultural belt, a band of valuable soils and woodlands stretching from Vermont to Connecticut, which were the focus of public and private investment in landscape conservation, under the 2023 New England Food System Resilience Act.
Amina walks her two kids to school and then heads to the Council meeting. The Council plays a pivotal role in the life of the city. Community respect for the Council’s legitimacy gives it significance in the governing of the city’s food system. Amina concludes that serving on the NEFFPC can contribute to the city’s resurgence and accepts the nomination.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
Long before 2050, the climate crisis brought longer growing seasons with heavier precipitation and flooding, frequent severe summer heat and drought, and warmer and higher seas. People in New England responded by building a diverse and resilient food system that also delivered ecosystem services such as soil health, water retention, and biodiversity habitat. This system was guided by a broad collaborative network of scientists, farmers, fishers, local schools, citizen scientists, coordinated by state cooperative extension services and soil and water conservation districts. This research provided the base for ongoing monitoring, modeling, and adaptive management that was exercised through tens of thousands of farm, forest, and fisheries “natural resilience plans.” New England developed sociocultural and agroecological innovations that extended across the landscape, from intensive urban farming, to expansive regenerative agriculture, artfully mixed into the still largely-forested countryside, as projected in the original New England Food Vision (2014, p. 16).
By 2050, farming based mostly on perennial grass and trees, sustainable forestry, and landscape conservation continued to build soil health, sequester carbon and help moderate flooding associated with intensified precipitation. Increased use of silvopasture reduced heat stress in grazing ruminants and retained many of the ecological benefits of forest cover. More diversified stock including sheep, goats, and poultry were integrated with cattle. A small percentage of the region’s forest was dedicated to shading and finishing pastured pigs. Diversified agroforestry production of chestnuts, apples and other nuts, fruits and berries was greatly expanded. In and around cities, hundreds of thousands of acres featured intensive small-scale vegetable and fruit production, rainwater collection and the use of mulches and compost to build soil carbon.
Controlled environments such as hoophouses and greenhouses extended growing seasons and helped protect susceptible crops from blights and novel pests more able to spread in the warming climate. Farmers of all kinds continually adapted with strategies ranging from traditional indigenous growing systems and cultural practices of newer immigrants, up to more recent agroecological innovations. Cities rebuilt themselves to accommodate worsened flooding, using increasingly available regional wood products. They expanded green spaces, including parks, community gardens, food forests, and urban forests for cooling, rainfall infiltration, food, and recreation. Efficient and accessible options for transportation within and beyond the city including public transit, bicycle and walking paths, and rideshares became prevalent.
Along the coasts, sea level rise exceeded 3 feet, presenting enormous challenges to coastal ecosystems and communities. Managed retreat presented an opportunity to reconstruct healthy coastal wetlands and oyster reefs. Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture by small enterprises and cooperatives provided food, fertilizer, and feed while improving the health of the ecosystem (see Technology theme). Importantly, owner-operator protections required aquaculture operations to be owned and operated predominantly by local residents and cooperatives.
On the water, networks of family and tribal owner-operator enterprises were organized into cooperatives which managed many aspects of the fisheries as local community commons within zones established under the FSRA (see Policy theme). As temperature, salinity, and storm frequency continued to increase and marine species migrated, the wild fisheries, like the region’s farmers, constantly readapted their harvesting practices to fish with the ecosystem, a practice reinforced by strong regional markets that value eating with the ecosystem by centering place-based cuisines reflecting seasonal dynamics of the land and the sea (see Economics and Culture themes).
In 2050, as people in New England embraced some hope that the curve of increasing climate instability would finally flatten in response to decades-old global agreements that have driven emissions to net zero, they carried a shared understanding that democratic participation at all levels of life has been responsible for the resilience of their food system.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
Diets in New England changed significantly between 2020-2050, reflecting an alignment of population health with planetary health. As a result of living wage policies, secure health care and housing, and widely available regional food whose price reflected its true social and environmental costs and benefits, people had the means to eat in healthy ways that reflected their social and cultural heritage. Prior to the pandemic, more than a million people in New England relied upon food banks, pantries, schools, soup kitchens and shelters for their food. Many working people in poverty were food workers. The region’s diets reflected a food system driven by unfettered global market forces favoring profitable processed foods, resulting in people eating excessive amounts of refined grains, unhealthy fats and sugars, and too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other food-related health problems were undermining quality of life and shortening lives, disproportionately so for people of color living in low-income communities.
As the pandemic exposed brittle supply chains, highly concentrated and dangerous meat processing plants, and exploitative systems of labor many more people began to experience a real fear of widespread food insecurity. In episodes of panic buying, empty grocery store shelves, and rising food prices, they saw portents of a likely future due to the climate crisis. In response to the realization that shortening and diversifying supply chains and addressing equitable labor practices were key to having greater control over the regional food system, people took action at local, state, and federal levels to steadily produce more food that was accessible to all in New England.
Diets began to migrate towards eating more seasonal foods produced within New England and by 2050 the regional average diet approached what the 2014 New England Food Vision called the “Regional Reliance” diet. The transition towards a more plant-based diet was rooted in a deepened sense of place. New England’s climate and soils favor grass-based livestock and the regional diet reflected that place-based, regenerative agriculture. Meat was more expensive as it had absorbed the social and environmental costs (that had been externalized by the industrial meat industry), but it was of higher quality and, given the prevalence of living wages, affordable to those who wanted it. The reduction of meat was balanced by continued reliance on milk and eggs, and greater consumption of regionally grown legumes, soy, and nuts. Additional sources of protein included more wild-harvested seafood, as the restructuring of fisheries resulted in the majority of the catch supplying regional markets with diverse species. Long-neglected fish such as butterfish, scup, and skate took their place along with other fish thriving off New England’s coast.
Fruit and vegetable production increased rapidly in and around cities in southern New England as part of FSRA green development patterns, which protected small-scale intensive gardening and permaculture systems. Crop breeding, fortification and supplementation with key nutrients filled in anticipated gaps in iron, calcium, and vitamin D consumption. Empowering more people, especially children, with some part of growing their own food and culinary competency, translated into healthier eating and less food waste. The roots of the region’s farm-to-school and college food movements grew into regional procurement and teaching at all levels, organized around place-based food production and preparation that modeled food literacy and foodways attuned to the regional Vision and values.
Across the regional landscape, land in agriculture expanded three-fold to provide a larger part of the more plant-based diet for a population swelling from climate migration. Tools like community land trusts and reparation funds expanded land access for indigenous and people of color and helped develop individual and community sovereignty for preferred diets. Under agreements facilitated through the New England Food and Forest Policy Council, New England in 2050 produced virtually all its own vegetables, and the great bulk of its fruits. Oranges, bananas, and other warm-climate fruits were still imported, but their price rose, reflecting sustainable farming in other parts of the world that focused on local food sovereignty first and on exports second. New England apple, grape, stone fruit and berry production increased remarkably to meet the need. With less meat in the diet, tillable acreage shifts from corn silage to vegetables, beans, and a greater share of the region’s whole grains. New England continued to import most of its grains, nuts, vegetable oils, sugar, beverage crops, and many specialty items. Decreases in diet-related chronic disease reduced health care costs and enhanced well-being. By 2050 dietary patterns were more healthy, diverse, and sustainable.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
The economics of the New England food system shifted from 2020-2050. In the wake of the pandemic the region embraced the “Doughnut Economics” model, in which social needs and planetary boundaries are mutually addressed. Poverty was diminished, by policies dedicated to meeting social foundational needs. Food reflected the true cost of producing it sustainably, and fairly compensating those who produce it. Because everyone received a living wage, and was able to accumulate wealth, individuals and families could afford healthy food, and the market for regional food expanded. Also, given the shift in diets away from meat and toward plant proteins, the overall cost of eating didn’t rise significantly.
On the production and harvesting side of the system, farmers and fishers who had struggled with “farming and fishing in the red” with prices falling well short of the cost of their production. They could not easily compete with a global industrial food system that externalized social and environmental costs. Those economic conditions also reflected US political economy and federal policies on things like commodity milk pricing on land and “catch shares” for fisheries that commodified the ocean commons. Other pressures on the food system included the worsening climate crisis, continued corporate consolidation, workforce shortages and labor costs, and declining infrastructure. Women, people of color, and migrant farm workers were compensated at significantly lower rates than their white (non-Hispanic) male contemporaries.
In the years that followed the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis disrupted global supply chains, and raised the cost of food from outside the region, making sustainable local production competitive. The first phase of economic transformation connected existing regional supply and near-term potential supply to the more than $30 billion food purchasing market of the region. Demand for local and regional food skyrocketed along with producer, harvester, worker cooperatives and cooperative grocery stores. Farmers markets, expanded community supported agriculture and fisheries programs, co-op gardens, local food processing, and on-line ordering and home delivery enterprises all brought food directly to customers. Together with more on-site renewable energy production, these relationships and enterprises began to reshape the food system.
The proliferation of food policy councils brought cooperative grocery stores to urban and rural communities lacking food access. Using financing from federal and state programs, along with credit unions and community development financial institutions, member and worker-owned stores began providing local and regional healthy food and stable, meaningful livelihoods.
With adoption of the FSRA in 2023, the newly founded NEFFPC facilitated state congressional delegation alignment and inter-regional alignment to increase congressional power, ensuring federal policies were responsive to the region’s needs. States adopted livable minimum wages and the Index tracked wages and working conditions across the food system. The Federal Universal Basic Income program eventually established during the second wave of the pandemic was proven effective and has continued ever since. This ensured that many more people could afford healthy, sustainable local food. Federal subsidies for extractive and exploitive production systems began to shift in support of sustainable regional practices.
As the regional supply expanded to meet an ever-increasing demand, coordinated policies ensured fair prices and wages across the supply chain. Payments for carbon sequestration and other “ecosystem services” provided an additional source of producer income. (see Policy Theme)
By 2030, just over a third of the region’s population was directly engaged in some aspect of farm and fishing supply chains, and the numbers continued to grow. Food hubs emerged in many configurations, and were critical to the survival of thousands of small farm and fishing enterprises throughout the region. Their aggregation and processing services diversified food distribution channels, building resilience across the system. Institutional markets recovered, and with colleges and universities sourcing 30% of their food within the region. This required a major pivot as schools operated dining operations in their facilities, supplied groceries for students to take home, and to residence halls. Large retailers also adapted to supplying more regional products as they sought to maintain their markets. This created another outlet for regional producers.
Widespread access to education, training, technical assistance, and appropriate forms of financing were crucial to the success of a new generation of diverse food entrepreneurs and practitioners engaging with the regional food system. These programs expanded during the climate-driven in-migration that added nearly five million people to the region between 2028 and 2034.
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
A significant cultural transformation occurred in New England between 2020 and 2040. Over that period, worldviews, core values, and patterns of thought began to evolve; and those foundational elements, in turn, drove patterns of power building, power shifting, power sharing, and the proliferation of new and renewed institutions as the region’s civil society came to the fore. The transformation was dramatically accelerated by the 2020 pandemic, which enlarged a shift of consciousness and human identity while simultaneously disrupting all aspects of New England society. A deep, decade-long economic depression resulting from the pandemic forced many communities in New England to refocus their priorities from the status quo, winner-take-all thinking rooted in competitive scarcity, consumerism, and white supremacy to a worldview that centered interdependence, cooperation, and solidarity. Conflicts inevitably emerged as the region grappled with a changing identity and political culture, reflecting an awakened appreciation of diverse cultural, spiritual, and community practices as integral to a vibrant cultural landscape, resilient communities, and the public good.
Robust, participatory, and direct democratic governance became a more prominent feature of state and local governance as well as business enterprises. This trend contributed to more operationalized values of social solidarity, racial equity, and justice; ecological integrity; and relationships built on trust. At the same time, community-level resource-sharing, and reciprocity strengthened and democracy became a daily lived experience for many through cooperative garden groups, pop-up food banks, local and regional currencies, mutual aid networks, the proliferation of food policy councils from the neighborhood to the state, and ultimately to the New England Food and Forest Policy Council (NEFFPC), informing federal policy and practices.
Importantly, the NEFFPC worked intersectionally within the region, coordinating with other sustainability movements including energy, housing, transportation, healthcare and livable wages. It also worked inter-regionally with state and regional councils, in particular, from the Mid-Atlantic region, aligning congressional delegations to ensure that essential federal policies in such as the Farm Bill and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act were responsive to the region’s needs and values. (see Policy Theme)
Throughout the late 20s and the first half of the 30s, the worsening climate crisis drove migration that swelled the region’s population by close to five million as people moved away from US coastal cities, drought-stricken southern states, and hot, dry, and dangerously smoke-draped western valleys, struggling to adapt to the fallout of long and recurring fire seasons. Migration to the region brought new waves of disruption and conflict as well as a diversity of cultures and values. The NEFFPC evolved an adaptive, inclusive approach to governance and management and played a unique and essential role in helping to navigate and resolve conflicts through its framework of transdisciplinary science, a tapestry of ancient and shared indigenous knowledge, practitioner knowledge, sophisticated prediction and scenario modeling that reflected a plurality of methods, and both highly localized and land-and-seascape scale observation and data collection. (see Policy Theme)
An important part of the NEFFPC’s success came from its valuing of a plurality of knowledge and practice, especially the leadership roles played by indigenous people and people of color. The expertise of indigenous tribes who had long-embraced regenerative growing and harvesting practices served as mentors and models of resilience based on their millennia-long relationships with the life of the region. Tribal leadership on the NEFFPC, as well as on the Index (see Policy Theme), reflected the importance of their unique expertise, lived experiences, and strategies for climate adaptation to the shifting seasons focused on sustaining critical forest and fisheries resources, traditional medicines, and food sovereignty initiatives.
By 2050, the resilience of the region’s food system in the face of the still worsening climate crisis was built around a core of what some call biocultural diversity. Diversity, fed by the underlying culture of solidarity that in turn fed the complex, socio-ecological adaptive system wove together resilient landscapes, seascapes and foodways through embracing the richness of the region’s evolving community of life.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
A blend of traditional and novel technologies enabled the New England food system to continuously shift towards sustainability and ever-greater resilience in the face of the worsening climate crisis and other disruptions. For example, traditional ecological knowledge, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, organic farming, agroecology, intercropping, food forests, silvopasture, and agroforestry were “technologies” that played a key role in the successful transformation of New England’s food system from 2020-2050.
Traditional cultural production systems and modern science were integrated to deliver ecological and human benefits including food, wildlife habitat, air and water quality improvements, and soil health. Mixing hedgerows and tree crops with grazing and annual cropping took years of experiment to get right, and required constant adaptation. Silvopasture grazing systems changed from year to year as tree plantings matured and regenerated, so internal livestock rotations incorporated GPS technology to supplant movable fencing, and scale appropriate processing systems for things like livestock were developed. What united all of these technologies was supporting a set of practices that continually improved the health of soil, plants, animals, and people, including farmers.
As soil health steadily improved, carbon was sequestered, and resilience was enhanced, offsetting other emissions from the farm while improving their financial viability. This virtuous cycle increased resilience of crops and pastures to extremes in precipitation, while reducing reliance on irrigation losses to drought. With ecosystem service payments in place (see Policy Theme and Economic Theme), farm enterprises gained more viability. This shift from an input-based to a knowledge-based paradigm of agriculture enabled the integration of indigenous and traditional knowledge systems with advancements in sensor technology, predictive analytics for generating site-specific information and decision-making, and employing a range of regenerative production systems.
These systems helped farmers identify the best solutions for building soil health and water conservation as part of their climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The conversion of the region’s energy base from fossil fuels to solar and wind spawned a new generation of electric farm equipment —everything from tractors to chainsaws. The universal extension of high-speed internet allowed both the resettlement of rural areas with enough people to form economically and socially viable communities, and enabled the complex ecological monitoring that is necessary for adaptive management. Landscape-scale ecological monitoring supported integrated management. By-products of sustainable forestry, including wood ash, biochar, and shavings for livestock bedding, were more effectively integrated into farm nutrient cycles as part of farm “natural resilience plans.” (see Policy Theme) A network of data collection by conservation scientists, students, volunteer citizen scientists, and farmers themselves facilitated digital platforms to integrate data to asses patterns and trends.
Urban and suburban permaculture systems modelled complex systems of intensive production, season extension, water and waste cycling, and small-scale livestock production. These managed environments in small spaces were able to produce a measurable part of the region’s produce in all seasons, engaging many people in the process. At the coast, equally complex systems of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture had to be perfected and the ecological “outputs” closely monitored. On the water, scientists and fishers worked together on monitoring, mapping and tracking systems that gave real time information on fluctuations and movement of fish populations, allowing flexible fishing with appropriate gear. Importantly, provisions were put in place to avoid commodification of electronic monitoring data through transparent, democratic control.
On shore, seafood and livestock processing facilities became more flexible, less streamlined, and more attuned to worker health and safety as they processed in tune with the marine ecosystem. The successful development and application of technology was governed by the robust civic culture of sustainability and resilience that awakened and blossomed throughout the 20s, 30s, and 40s and was firmly in service to ensuring an adequate, sustainable output of food that also maximized social and environmental benefits in the process.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
Policies developed in the 2020’s secured the foundation of the 2050 food system. Prior to the pandemic, development pressure resulted in thousands of acres of agricultural and forest land fragmentation and loss, even as there was a growing desire for local food and natural climate solutions. FSNE worked with many others to convene stakeholders around the interdependence of our urban, rural, and maritime communities, and concern over the region’s attenuated food system, resulting in a pivotal conference in February 2020.
By 2022, a farmland, forest, and coastal waters protection agreement was passed by all six state legislatures. The following year, the New England Food System Resilience Act was adopted (FSRA). The FSRAIt established two key governance elements: a New England Food and Forest Policy Council (NEFFPC), and a New England Food, Farm, Fisheries, and Forest Resilience Index (Index).
Under the FSRA, the NEFFPC worked closely with networks like FSNE and local food councils to reinforce coordinated actions from backyards and community gardens, all the way to legislatures and congressional delegations. Integrated policies emerged from this process, starting with emergency measures and evolving into permanent food security, farm viability, and land and waterfront protection programs. The New England states joined forces with their counterparts across the nation to restore adequate funding for cooperative extension. Land grant institutions that enabled them to focus on issues relevant to local and regional producers.
Universal healthy food access, universal health care, affordable housing, a living wage, and the capacity to build individual and household wealth or savings increased demand. Food access programs were tied to the goal of procuring more than 50% of the region’s food from New England farms and fisheries, and also supported improved regional food processing and distribution systems. A second set of policies addressed protection of the farmland, forests, and coastal marine environments. These policies encouraged clustered development, and tied funding for land protection to climate change responses such as promoting renewable energy. They also directed funds and shaped planning to protect green space in urban areas, giving neighborhood groups a strong voice in their control.
A third set of policies linked the consumption and production sides of the food system by ensuring access to land, and by rewarding producers who delivered ecological benefits alongside the food itself. Critical policies included a land access program focused on new Indigenous and farmers of color, and ensuring access to capital for women and people of color growers and food entrepreneurs.
In areas surrounding the region’s cities, thousands of acres of farmland were protected by land trusts to form community farms, while other parcels were made available to aspiring farmers. Widely available incubator programs required a two-year apprenticeship in regenerative agriculture including business and financial management. Participants in these programs played a pivotal role in building the region’s now-thriving farm and food sector.
The NEFFPC also facilitated two critical policies: the first provided payments for ecosystem service payments to farmers and forest landowners who carried out “Natural Resilience Plans” to optimize carbon storage, air and water quality, flood mitigation, habitat for biodiversity, and recreational use. These payments, funded by carbon taxes, were tiered to provide higher payments for land that has been permanently protected from development. Similar “Natural Resilience Plans” were put in place for stretches of state coastal fisheries out to three miles, combining ecological restoration with flexible, sustainable harvesting. In-shore fishing rights were distributed at the local community level, expanding the owner-operator law that has long been effective in managing the lobster fishery in Maine. Through all these mechanisms, a protected New England landscape providing vital natural services was effectively linked to healthy eating, supporting sustainable farmers, fishers, loggers, and thriving local economies.
The region’s embrace of diverse ways of knowing and inclusive participation was critical to its continued adaptation. The NEFFPC evolved an approach to governance that was built upon transdisciplinary science, ancient and shared indigenous insights, and practitioner knowledge that together enabled prediction and scenario modeling, as well as the development land and seascape scale observation and data collection systems. The passage of the first Green New Deal in 2024 brought critically needed federal policy and investments that supported the goals of the FSRA. For example, federal risk management policies shifted to encourage integrated crop and livestock systems including whole farm revenue insurance for diversified and small operations and ecosystem service payments.
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
Interactions between the Environment and Culture themes constituted the foundation for the transformation of the New England food system between 2020 and 2050. This cultural landscape is dynamic and evolving. The unfolding impacts of Covid-19, and the larger climate crisis, elicited food system responses from diverse stakeholders and institutions that were rooted in underlying cultural drivers including worldviews, core values, and identities (see cultural iceberg in question 16). These responses were conceived, negotiated, and advanced from neighborhoods to statehouses through politics interacting with Policy, Economics, Technology, and foodways including Diets.
Developments in these spheres, in turn, elicited ongoing responses from stakeholders and institutions as the iterative cycle of governance continues and the cultural landscape evolved. For example, disruptions in the national food system triggered investment and widespread engagement with local supply chains and infrastructure. As the climate crisis brought intense precipitation and flooding, severe heat and drought, and warmer and higher seas, New England producers diversified their food and forest systems to meet local needs, enhance natural resilience, and fortify ecosystem services such as soil health, water retention, and biodiversity.
Natural resilience approaches, embraced for their cost effectiveness, and human values were prioritized through policies that include ecosystem service payments (Economics) and employed a range of technologies. Diets shifted dramatically in substance and quality, due to growing regional alignment around shared values of environmental health, culturally-diverse and healthy foods, and local “co-production” of the region’s food and resources. As consumers, more people in New England came to value their role in shaping and sustaining what the region’s cultural landscape and seascape could sustainably produce and harvest and more cooperative business models emerged (Economics).
Once food chain workers’ compensation reflected their true “essential” value, they were able to participate more fully in a robust local and regional system of democratic governance that emerged out of the pandemic. For example, across the region, urban agriculture incorporated a range of technologies such as aquaponics and other controlled-environment growing systems that were cooperatively-owned and democratically-governed to generate shared community benefits. The New England Food and Forest Policy Council and Index (see Policy theme) continued to serve the values and commitments of the regional FSRA as the interactions of Environment and Culture continually shaped a cultural landscape and food system committed to racial equity and dignity for all, democratic process, regenerative ecosystems, and thriving rural, urban, and maritime communities.
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
The transformation of the New England food system between 2020 and 2050 entailed important “trade-offs,” or choices, within tangible elements of the food system and the landscape, including regional land use and production patterns, processing and distribution infrastructure, and dietary and culinary options. There were also trade-offs in governance elements of the system with respect to the role of public and private investment, the regulatory environment surrounding all aspects of the food system, and norms and expectations of civic participation. Finally, trade-offs appeared at a deeper level of values, identities, and worldviews that related to central principles of liberty, freedom, and justice, and the nature of the conditions that constituted a life well lived. Looking back from 2050, the process of making trade-offs and choices turned out to be iterative and adaptive, benefitting from a plurality of outlooks united behind the enduring commitment to participatory and directly democratic forms of determining “how are we doing, where are we, and what should we do next?”
At the landscape and production level, core trade-offs emerged between forest and farmland proportions, and in equity of access. The FSRA codified the outlook of the New England Wildlands and Woodlands Vision of protecting 70% forest cover across the region to retain all of those natural and social benefits, while increasing farmland by a factor of three—a loss of a relatively small amount of forest in exchange for greater sustainable food sovereignty.
The FSRA also codified FSNE’s commitment to racial equity as a foundational pillar of the food system that requires forms of access addressing historical inequality and injustices to people of color, indigenous peoples, and the economically disenfranchised. Production patterns across the region were guided by coordinated state policies and incentives, rather than emerging as a random outcome of individual farm and fishery enterprises responding only to global market forces. These policies were informed by larger regional patterns and adaptively updated through the Food and Forest Policy Council. Nevertheless, meaningful opportunities for entrepreneurship remained for individual land owners, farmers, and fishers, and for urban producers in terms of the many ways they could meet local demand.
At the level of values and worldviews, central questions of liberty, freedom, and justice were answered with a plurality of reasonable yet sometimes irreconcilable positions. These were largely resolved through democratic processes to form strong, clear, and more coherent public policies and investments that reflected a rich, nested landscape of participatory decision-making at all levels that informed and conferred legitimacy on the regional council.
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
Regional policy coordination is enhanced through FSNE and partner convening of policy makers from all six states (legislators, state executive offices, administrators), with networks representing food, farms, fisheries, and forests, and other stakeholder groups including aggregators, processors, distributors, and retail, restaurateurs, food policy councils, public health, economic development, housing, and transportation. These groups have aligned around an integrated policy framework for the region, closely coordinated with state climate policies and legislation.
The FSNE Network Health Assessment documents the significant expansion of the network across sectors and issue areas, including a deepened, shared commitment to racial equity across all six states from rural to urban communities. These impacts are advanced through communications, capacity building, and convening through programming including FSNE’s signature programs: the biannual New England Food Summit; Network Leadership Institute; 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge; Narrative and Communications workshops; and capacity-building.
Food growing, foraging, preparation, and eating are fully integrated into K-12 school curriculum, and university teaching, research, and practice.
The Network convened regional food system stakeholders to inventory and map ongoing projects, policy conversations, and best practices for conducting emergency feeding operations in each state, as well as responses to COVID-19 induced supply chain disruptions. These practices are connected to existing climate action/resiliency/emergency preparedness plans in each state and the region to codify approaches for future events.
The Network quantifies food product category targets necessary to produce and distribute 35% of the food needed by New England, within New England, by 2035. Based on agreed targets, develop state-by-state roadmaps of build out (infrastructure, financing, etc.), and begin implementation.
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
Food System Resilience Act (FSRA) has been signed by the region’s six Governors. The New England Food and Forest Policy Council (NEFFPC) is chartered, seated, and has approved workplan, advisory, and stakeholder engagement mechanisms. The New England Food, Farm, Fisheries, and Forest Resilience Index (Index) is adopted by the NEFFPC, and a multi-stakeholder research committee has been appointed. The New England Food Supply Chain Resiliency Plan has been adopted and forms part of the Index.
The Food System Resilience Act (FSRA) codified the vision and values of the New England Food Vision and Wildlands and Woodlands Vision and the FSNE network. This includes a commitment to racial equity as a foundational c, and the economically disenfranchised; permanent protection of 70% forest cover; has set a goal of increasing farmland up to 6 million acres, two to three times its current extent.
The New England Regional Reparations Fund has grown to $10M in annual support for indigenous and and people of color graduates of farm incubator programs to access farmland throughout the region.
Regional production is coordinated through the NEFFPC with state production targets agreed to along with policies, procedures, and plans to ensure that the regional food supply is sufficient to weather global or national food supply chain disruptions caused by climate change and global pandemics.
Each New England state has policies that reward regenerative agriculture and provision of ecosystem services, and that encourage a range of climate-friendly food systems practices for farmers, food entrepreneurs, fishermen, and consumers. These are connected to explicit state sustainability and climate mitigation goals, with commensurate dedicated funding.
30% of food purchased by the region’s institutions (schools, colleges, hospitals, correctional facilities) are produced in New England.
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
If awarded the prize, we will put the funding to work in the service of our network vision and values as follows:
One half of the award will be used to seed a regional Land Access Reparations Fund, governed by indigenous and people of color involved in food, farming and fishing projects. Seeding this fund would reflect our shared network commitment to racial equity as a foundational pillar of the food system that requires access to land and addresses, in small part, the historical inequalities and injustices perpetrated against people of color and indigenous peoples. We expect the seed funding to be nurtured and to grow significantly and serve an integral role in the realization of the vision over the next three decades.
The other half of the prize will be used to support inclusive participation in all aspects of FSNE governance and programming and for critical backbone organization support in service to the vision and values that are the foundation of the network.
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
Food entails more than calories, nutrients, or production, processing, and distribution. All of these are vitally important for life. But food is cultural in the deepest sense of the word. Our cultural foodways reflect underlying worldviews, core values, and patterns of thought that shape attitudes, assumptions, power structures, institutions, and public policies. They also reflect the ecology of place. The arrangements of our food systems are human constructs that are neither inevitable nor unchangeable, and those arrangements manifest in everything from the diversity of our soils and marine ecosystems, to the microbiomes of our guts. Food is health and illness, and food is politics and economics. The power structures that control our food systems can be changed by the public imagination aligned around a vision and values, and democratic movement and network building on a foundation of trust. Covid-19 made visible the deep-seated injustices of our society and world including our food system: the staggering and deeply embedded inequality, poverty, and systemic racism of our society came into clear view. We’ll never simply consume our way to a food system that reflects our shared values. It is by animating the moral and political imagination and civic energy rooted in core values of solidarity, racial equity and dignity for all, and interdependence that we can exercise sovereignty over our food systems.
Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.
Our Vision is based on regional culture change as illustrated by the “cultural iceberg” model. Underlying elements and “cultural models” are below the surface, largely out of sight, where worldviews, core values, and patterns of thought shape attitudes, actions, power structures, narratives, and processes visible in the food system.