Best Practices

We all know that food doesn’t come from a grocery store wrapped in plastic.  The existing “food system” that provides us with the food on our tables comes spans the world, and involves many millions of people and many billions of dollars.

If we want replace a significant part of that world-spanning system, we will need to replicate all of its functions here in Tucson and Southern Arizona.  This Complete Local Food System includes everything from nutrient-recycling to food storage and processing.  And it will take place in the ecosystem created by government health, land use, and finance regulation, as well as the availability of financing and the presence of existing food system networks.

The goal of this Best Practices research is to identify effective ways to create elements of a local food system.  The key goal is to identify the business models of effective approaches to everything from farmer training to establishing networks of community gardens to collaborative Citizen Science programs for gardeners.

I plan to develop summaries of the business model of each program I evaluate. While this evaluation will include a (probably brief) description of their activities and basic contact information, the main purpose is to evaluate the Business Model of each program.

This evaluation will include:

  • Who are you customers? If your clients (who receive services) are different from customers (funders), what metrics do you use to evaluate your work?
  • What primary values do you provide to customers?
  • Who are your key partners?
  • What key skills do you need to have?
  • What is your cost structure?
  • What are your revenue streams?
  • What key resources do you need?
  • What channels do you use to communicate with customers?
  • What types of relationships do you maintain with customers?

For example, if a culinary training program is a key part of a Commercial Kitchen, then a partnership with Pima College might be key to a successful program.  And capacity to train many students at the same time would likely be a key resource and cost, and tuition would likely be an important revenue stream.

Armed with this information, local food activists and Champions’ Network members will be able identify the elements that might make a program succeed or fail here.

You can help

  • If you know of any programs that you think are particularly effective…
  • If you would like to help assemble the key research to evaluate programs (or your own pet program) …

please contact me.

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