Better Together: How FoFF Works Collaboratively
No organization is an island, and when it comes to making systemic change, there is most certainly strength in numbers. But beyond the numbers, working collaboratively makes sure that the solutions we put forward for Oregon respect the diverse goals of groups within the food system. We want our programs and policies to provide a path to viability for small and midsize , socially and ecologically responsible farmers while balancing the needs of food security, education and equity to make sure we create a future food system that serves all Oregonians.
This also ensures that all the groups working on similar issues are able to specialize in the efforts best suited to their mission. When we all communicate and work together, we don’t duplicate efforts but rather fit together as complementary pieces of the future we seek to create. Attempting to house all solutions and services with one organization would stretch anyone too thin, and we love working with our partners in order to do our work well and when we can’t help, refer farmers to the organization with the expertise and bandwidth to get them the answers they need. As part of reintroducing our work in the Roots of FoFF series we want to elaborate on where we work with other groups and what coalitions we are part of, both formal and informal.
We work with the OCFSN in some way shape or form in most of the public facing work we do for Oregon farmers. This comprehensive groups of 58 organizations from across the state has become a guiding force, sounding board, and general convening of all the perspectives that shape the Oregon food system. Our membership with OCFSN allows us to participate in collective processing of opportunities and policies that arise, gain perspective on how other groups with similar focus see threats to the system, and share our programming for cross promotion and feedback. In particular, we participate in the OCFSN Policy Committee and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Working Group.
We are members of the Oregon Organic Coalition because we believe that organic farmers in Oregon, whether they are currently certified or not, are the future of climate and ecologically resilient food production. Not all the farmers we work with hold formal organic certifications, but many do and even more use organic practices to reduce their need for chemical inputs and build the health of their whole farm ecosystem. We joined this coalition to bring more resources to education and support services for farmers growing food in this way. Organic remains one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in Oregon and we are proud to join with our partners to give organic producers all the same support as conventional ones.
This coalition helps our efforts to hold industrial agribusiness accountable for the environmental, human, and economic wreckage it leaves in its wake. This coalition of national and Oregon stakeholders from across the spectrum is united in the mission that factory farms are not a necessity for our food system and are bad for our communities. We bring a small farmer perspective to their work in order to provide strong arguments for alternatives to these damaging models and make sure small farmer perspectives are present in the policy solutions we develop with SUFF.
Although our organization works entirely in Oregon, it is necessary for us to keep a clear picture of what federal laws and programs will have an impact on farming here in our state. We maintain membership with NSAC to stay apprised of all the federal happenings that impact our farmers and to make sure we weigh in when changes need to be made. Providing input and comments on federal laws and regulations with the support of this coalition ensures that these federal efforts are built with Oregon small farmers in mind.
Our farmer technical assistance programs Oregon Pasture Network and Oregon Farm Link both have farmer advisory committees to provide guidance and input on the structure and goals of our programming. It is so valuable to have consistent input as we expand and refine these programs to make sure that they meet the needs of our farmers. We are so grateful for our dedicated advisory committee members who give their time to advise and consult with us.
In addition to these formal coalitions we partner with organizations in the small farm landscape on programs where our expertise overlaps. For example, our staff has partnered with Rogue Farm Corps to teach classes on farm marketing and advocacy for their training program; we partnered with Slow Food Portland and the Come Thru Market and other coalition partners on the 2020 and 2021 Portland Fill Your Pantry; we have partnered with many organizations for our InFARMation, check out more info on our website; we partnered with the Oregon Climate and Agriculture Network for a scholarship program for OPN our soil health classes in 2020. If your organization has a program that you’d like to partner with us on, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are in constant communication with our partners and seek multiple perspectives on all new initiatives. We know that we cannot be successful in our mission of creating a sustainable, community oriented future for Oregon agriculture without the input and support of our community!