The New England Good Food Vision project kicked off with a summit held in March 2011, where delegates from across New England gathered to strengthen collaboration for regional food system sustainability. This action-oriented, working summit was designed to build upon ongoing efforts and to clarify regional priorities and action items that we can undertake most effectively together. A regional steering committee was asked to select and invite 10-12 delegates from each New England state. Invitations were extended to stakeholders from across the food system – from agriculture to food environment to nutrition and health to those focused on social justice aspects of our food system. In addition, a delegation comprised of crosscutting representatives who are working for regionally-based organizations or agencies were also invited. As we left Portsmouth in March, we were charged with developing a bold vision for New England that captured the urgent need to build regional food capacity while leveraging the work presently reflected in existing plans reviewed at the summit and in our region. Using the guidance of “what can we do better together than acting alone as individual states?” has provided a rich framework to advance our aspirations for a regional food system that truly embodies ‘Good Food’ attributes.
Following the summit, delegates were invited to participate in a one-day workshop in June. Additional stakeholders were invited to attend the workshop and were tasked with two major goals: 1) to develop a provisional or working vision for a New England Regional Food system and 2) to continue establishing processes that will support regional collaboration by identifying concrete actions that need to be taken to build this collaborative infrastructure. By the end of the June workshop, goal number one was met as evidenced of by the drafting of a vision statement: "New England will have the capacity to produce 80% of a healthy diet for all of its citizens by 2060.” Attendees identified the need to further explore the data behind this bold vision, and hence some members from the June workshop committed to an additional workshop in August.
The August workshop brought together a smaller group of researchers who met to discuss the production, diet and climate assumptions behind New England's 'Good Food' Vision Project. Participants envisioned a multi-phase approach to developing and refining this vision and related targets. The first phase is the development of a report similar to the “Wildlands and Woodlands” report that Brian Donahue discussed at the summit. A writing committee has been established and the goal for initial draft completion of this report is December 2011. Additional anticipated phases of this project include the development of an interactive, online book that would be updated regularly with new data and trends, securing funding for future summits and meetings, and more.