Visioning Our Food Future
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Visioning Our Food Future (VOFF): Food System Development for Bladen, Columbus, & Robeson Counties.
About the Project
Community members in Bladen, Columbus, and Robeson counties are teaming up with a research and facilitation team from NC State University to create a food system assessment and plan for the region. Through this process community members will identify assets and challenges and prioritize actions that will guide future food system development. Taking the time to go through this process prioritizes equitable outcomes in food system development.
Over eighteen months, community members across the three counties will provide insight, information, and goals for the local food system. The research and facilitation team will attend and host various events and opportunities to engage with the community to gather and report data and information. This team will create documents, maps, and other supporting resources that will be compiled into an assessment and plan for community members to approve.
This process is community-driven; meaning the community identifies the questions, data, and strategies. The research and facilitation team from NC State University will help guide the process and leverage our resources and knowledge to support the community. Our goal is that this process will support deep community relationships and collaboration and prioritize actions for future food system development that can sustain a thriving local food economy, with equitable access to healthy food for all.
Project Research and Facilitation Team
Members of the research and facilitation team are faculty and staff from N.C. Cooperative Extension, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, and People-First Tourism Lab – who specialize in food systems, community engagement, and community development – with funding from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. We are committed to place-based planning and development and will work under the guidance of community members, including a community-based advisory committee and local contractors. Our primary objective is to support farmers, food businesses, and community members in the region to develop a plan that will prioritize future work and prioritize funding needs for the community.
Project Updates & Events
Food System Intern Applications Due Feb 3, 2023
Three paid Food System Internships for Summer 2023 are available for current community college, undergraduate, and graduate students based in Bladen, Columbus, and Robeson Counties. The internship will be hosted at a local food system business or organization based in each of these three counties and will include learning about micro-entrepreneurship development within the food system economy, storytelling as a method of community-based participatory, a tour of diverse agroecosystems across the state, networking with other food system interns and professionals, and multiple professional development opportunities. Share this opportunity, apply today, and learn more here: https://cefs.ncsu.edu/academics-and-education/internships/southeastern-nc-food-systems-overview/. For questions, please contact Niesha Douglas (firstname.lastname@example.org; 919-515-5362).
KBR Advisory Committee Established
Six food system partners from Bladen, Columbus, and Robeson Counties came together with the Research & Facilitation Team on November 28, 2022 to form an KBR Advisory Committee for this project. Additional Committee members are currently being identified. The Committee advises on the 1) purpose and roles of the Advisory Committee, 3) food system internship, 4) food system strategic plan outcomes, 5) research protocol, and 6) strategies to engage and strengthen relationships with community members. The committee supports and represents the interests of the community within the project by co-creating the resulting community-based food system strategic plan and mobilization teams.
Contact members of the research and facilitation team with questions or to learn more: