Submitted by Mallory Krieger on Tue, 01/02/2018 – 10:00am
Every January 1, people across the world reflect on the closing year and vision a better, more productive, healthy future. It is the time for New Year’s resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions, boiled down, are simply goals set at a specific time of year. Goal setting is a process I teach to our Farm Beginnings students; we work to clarify values, and set realistic and measurable goals to help fulfil the values held most dear. Today, I undertake the task of setting realistic, measurable goals for our work at The Land Connection in 2018.
The goals for the coming year must lead to the full expression of the core values of The Land Connection so that these goals are meaningful and lead to a deep satisfaction in work and life. At TLC, we value a healthy and self-supporting natural environment, nutrient dense and locally produced human foods, ready and abundant access to these foods, and a local food economy that is affordable to the consumer and fully supportive of living wages for the farmer. So with these values in mind, I set the following goals for The Land Connection for 2018.
Resolution 1 – Improve the natural environment and nutrient density of crops by encouraging farmers to adopt a regenerative systems plan for their operation. This plan will help farmers make environmentally supportive management decisions that uphold the 4 pillars of soil health: the presence of living roots in the ground year round, keeping the ground covered, reducing soil disturbance, and increasing biodiversity. Measure of Success: more than 100 farmers attend the 2018 Organic Grain Conference in February where regenerative systems plans will be presented.
Resolution 2 – Increase market links between consumers and farmers through facilitating the entry of underserved populations into the local food economy. In generating more links between buyers and producers, more locally produced food can be sold to local residents, generating more income for farmers and more access to local foods for consumers. Measure of Success: Expand the SNAP incentive program beyond the growing season through a pilot program for year-round local food purchases for low-access residents of Champaign.
Resolution 3 – Enhance the financial profitability of local food producers through education on financial planning. Farmers across the country are financially struggling, from historically low commodity crop prices to economies of scale challenges for small acreage farmers, finances are a perennial challenge. Measure of Success: 100 farmers attend our upcoming farm finances webinar series.
It is our hope that achieving these goals will grow the local food economy, both on and off the farm, providing our community with a healthy and resilient future.
But, while crafting these New Year’s resolutions, a question has been nagging me. I cannot shake it and I cannot, yet, answer it. This question is essentially at the core of every program decision we make at The Land Connection. It informs our goal setting process and the metrics we use to measure the impact of our programs. Is success best measured in pounds of food produced or in the number acres affected or improved?
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.