Maine Farm to Institution Summit

Maine Farm to Institution (MEFTI) and the Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN) and their many partners are pleased to announce the first Maine Farm to Institution Summit, taking place February 9, 2018 at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

Background: The Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN) has been actively organizing the K-12 Farm to School movement in Maine for 10 years. Not only has this movement been enriched by many local and state partners here in Maine, but also by collaboration with the Northeast Regional Steering Committee (RSC) of the National Farm to School Network. About 6 years ago, the RSC organized Farm to Institution New England (FINE) as a cross-sector initiative that engages K-12, college, and health care partners in collaborative farm to institution work. Maine Farm to Institution (MEFTI) formed 3 years ago, from the Maine Farm to School Network, to bring this cross-sector collaboration model to Maine, with support from FINE and other regional partners like Health Care Without Harm. Over the last few years, the annual Maine Farm to School Conference has begun to include sessions on these other sectors, and this year, MFSN decided to forego its annual fall conference, and instead, support this first Maine Farm to Institution Summit. The Summit will continue to incorporate lots of sessions on K-12 gardens, food and agriculture education, and local procurement. Our intention is to frame this work in the broader context with a robust agenda of sessions relating to college, health care, and prison sectors.

Summit Purpose: The aspiration for the Summit is to gather farmers and food producers, food service operators, advocates, educators, administrators, and others dedicated to cultivate the power of institutions to develop an equitable and resilient Maine food system. The Maine Farm to Institution Summit is designed to inspire and energize the network through sharing best practices and innovative strategies; enhancing network capacity through skill building; and strengthening collective impact by engaging food producers, educators, decision makers, leaders, and policymakers in shared problem solving.

Overarching Objectives: The Summit will build on the history of addressing institutional procurement, hands-on learning through institutional production, and education about food and agriculture in all of these sectors. By addressing key themes such as leadership in Farm to Institution, the role of both practice and policy in building a sustainable food system, and cross-sector networks, we aim for participants to be able to:
  1. Develop new skills that will enhance their effectiveness.
  2. Develop new partnerships throughout the region to enhance overall effectiveness.
  3. Learn about innovative strategies that have worked in other communities.
  4. Connect to local, state, and federal policymakers to support farm to institution efforts.
  5. Inspire each other to set and achieve bolder goals for our food system.
  6. Frame farm to institution in new ways to connect with a broader audience.
  7. Clearly understand the need for and relevancy of farm to institution in our region.