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February 2015 Connecticut Food System Alliance Gathering

Henry Talmage presenting at the gatheringOn February 17th, the Connecticut Food System Alliance (CFSA) gathering, the first of three planned for 2015, took place in West Hartford, CT.  We were pleased to work with the University of Saint Joseph, who generously hosted us on their campus for the day-long event.  The theme of this gathering was Food and the Economy, with a morning session dedicated to introducing the theme and networking opportunities, and the rest of the day devoted to supporting the CFSA Sub-Networks.  Henry Talmage, Executive Director of CT Farm Bureau Association, and Chris Laughton of Farm Credit East provided an illuminating “check-up” on the economic viability of agriculture in Connecticut, revealing that most Connecticut farms are very small, part-time operations, and that more support is needed to help farmers earn a living through agriculture, produce local food in quantity, and contribute to the local economy.  There was a lot of momentum and passion for this topic that came out after the presentation, resulting in an extended Q&A session and an impromptu discussion.  We hope to explore these issues further in future CFSA events. 

Next, Catherine Bradshaw of Cadence Consulting gave a presentation about metrics.  Using principles of Results Based Analysis, Catherine shared simple and effective ways for Sub-Networks to evaluate their work.  The Sub-Networks continued to discuss metrics during their breakout sessions.  The Sub-Networks have really taken off in their work since the last gathering, the first to feature breakout sessions for the newly formed Sub-Networks.  The Sub-Networks demonstrated greater clarity of purpose, support for each other within the network, and desire to collaborate across the state to take on food system issues.  After a delicious lunch in the University of Saint Joseph Cafeteria, the day concluded with a brief wrap-up Sub-Network session, report outs, and sharing feedback on the gathering. 

We hope you will be able to attend our next gathering, which will take place in late May.  Please email Zoe Madden at to join the Listserv for the announcement of the date and location, and to stay connected with the Food Movement in Connecticut. 

You can also visit our website at


Zoe Madden is the Connecticut Food System Alliance Network Coordinator.

Featured Image of Marantha Community Gardens courtesy of Grow Windham.