Sustainable Food Systems: What if...?

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  1. ...we tried to capture fresh food dollars locally? How much produce can be cultivated in Mansfield/Richland County?
  2. ...we leveraged the research and teaching mission of The Ohio State University to improve access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food in Mansfield? How can business and agricultural research questions in Richland County be part of Ohio State’s research initiatives?
  3. ...we changed the way we thought about specialty crop farming? How much produce can be cultivated on urban microfarms?
  4. ...we tried to re-purpose our unused land? How much Land Bank property could be used for microfarms?
  5. ...we cultivated new ways to reach engage hard-to-reach learners?Can schoolyard food production improve learning outcomes?
  6. ...we decided to produce more local food? Can local production provide for a larger share of local meat, produce, specialty crops, and dairy consumption?
  7. ...we identified and collectively pursued increased opportunities to expand markets locally for small-farm entrepreneurs and existing growers? How many new microfarmers can the Richland region food system support?
  8. ...we worked together to create or boost small business opportunities ? How would the urban systems of zoning, economic development, and small business support networks respond?
  9. systems became an engine of economic opportunities and an incentive environment? How can a food hub provide opportunities for entrepreneurial businesses to thrive?
  10. ...better familiarity with local food led to improvements in health and well being? Can increased awareness of food sources and their impact of food on health change health levels?

What if... we built a whole food system to address economic, educational, diet, and food security issues?

Can a systems approach solve systemic problems?

Best Practice for Community Collaborations

As we work together in collaborative projects we aim to bring many voices to the table and thus many experiences. Sometimes it is often what people call "history." Going forward in good faith means putting the past behind us and starting with a clean slate.

We are all at this table because we care about our community and want to be part of positive change.

Everyone likes to be heard-focus on listening and avoid getting trapped in the personal. 
Collaboration may seem tedious because it is important for all voices to be expressed. Being part of positive community change means listening to others to create new, shared stories about our community.

Goals are appealing and should be discussed, but process is just as important. 
Community collaboration means coming together around a shared set of goals and hopes for the future. As we work keep in mind that we are working together toward shared goals.

Building Collaborations Or Creating Chaos? Network Effectively. 
Networking is the exchange of information for mutual benefit. Research has shown that networking can benefit a coalition via increased member engagement, commitment and satisfaction. It can also lead to increased community capacity as coalition members find access to resources, tools, partners and opportunities that exist outside of the coalition.

Great coalitions balance their efforts between creating a dense, cohesive group and connecting to outside resources to achieve effectiveness.

Extracted from CDFS-10, Communication in Coalitions, a Factsheet of Ohio State University Extension,

For more information and additional resources on coalitions, community development, and more, please visit Ohioline, an information resource produced by Ohio State University Extension at