This week, I developed ideas for how partner farms might use the standards, certification process and/or relationship with Food Alliance to support their programmatic work and achieve their mission. Here are a few of my proposals:
- FA-themed workshops for the farm’s typical audience. For example, a short workshop series could use each FA criteria category as separate topics. If the target audience is children or elementary school students, a potential activity could put the kids in the role of the FA inspector, walking around the farm and checking off criteria. This would not only introduce them to the certification process and the value of the third-party assessment, but also highlight the sustainable aspects and possibilities for improvement. Other programs could include farm business planning workshops, including third-party certification benefits, and soil and water quality monitoring workshops.
- Presentation on FA in relation to other third-party certifications (in a non-competitive, informative way). FA’s ecolabel issues page would be a helpful resource for this.
- Participatory forum for stakeholders and employees on maintaining certification. This event would encourage active involvement and promote the employee input criteria, giving them a say in the prioritization of 1-, 3-, and 5-year goals for improvement.
- Create an online forum for partner farms to share experiences and practices (especially for research-based farms to share results of their and other studies).
I also brainstormed ideas for how partner farms could help spread the word about FA certification to increase awareness of the holistic approach to sustainability, increase the number of farms applying for certification, and increase marketplace awareness and demand for certified products:
- Certification process workshop series: application-writing, mock inspection, maintaining certification.
- Custom FA-focused farm tours.
- Picket signs to place around farm at locations demonstrating soil and water conservation, safe and fair working conditions, wildlife habitat conservation, waste and energy efficiency, humane treatment of animals, etc.
- Outreach to markets in order to encourage them to consider processor/buyer certification.
- Forum for both consumers and interested farmers together to voice their interests and see where they align.
- All FA certified meal. This would be an environmentally and socially responsible and delicious event, which would furthermore promote FA through one of its most important aspects (that I tend to forget about at times): the food!
- Information session for staff at local markets that could potentially sell FA products. This way, if a consumer asks a question about the FA label, they could be better informed to answer it.
I hope that FA can implement a few of these suggestions in the future!