FRA Center Concept

Dear friends of Northeast food and agriculture:

A core group of folks within Cornell's Farming Alternatives Program and the
Division of Nutritional Sciences are preparing a Fund For Rural America
center planning grant application, to establish a "Northeast Center for
Community Food and Agriculture Systems". For the purposes of the planning
($25K and 4-6 months, max), we are hoping to identify collaborators from
around the Northeast region. This memo is to invite all interested persons
or parties to be a part of this exciting effort. Please review the Center
concept below and let us know what, if any, interest you might have in
joining us.

For this planning grant we will request funding to bring prospective
collaborators together in one or more planning workshops to further outline
the scope and structure of the Center. For example, we may decide to refine
our definition of "Northeast region"-a bioregional approach may seem more
appropriate. The initial commitment, between now and March 24, will include
reviewing drafts of the planning grant proposal and perhaps a few phone
calls. Have we scared you away yet? Hope not. Please contact us ASAP if you:

1) may be interested in signing on to the planning grant proposal as a
prospective member of the Center;

2) you have other potential collaborators to suggest;

3) you are aware of any other proposals within or outside of the Northeast
region which has significant overlap with this Center concept.

Feel free to contact Duncan Hilchey (607/255-4413), Judy Green (607/255-0417),
Jennifer Wilkins (607/255-2730) or Tom Lyson (607/255-1684), if you
have questions or concerns. Please e-mail your responses to Duncan
(dlh3@cornell.edu), or write to FAP: 17 Warren Hall, Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY  14853. We would like to hear from you by the end of the month.

We hope you are well, and we look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for
your time and consideration.

Duncan, Tom, Judy, and Jennifer

Northeast Center for Community Food and Agriculture Systems: The Concept

A consortium of university-based programs, Cooperative Extension, and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) led by Cornell University's Farming
Alternatives Program and Division of Nutritional Sciences proposes to
establish the Northeast Center for Community Food and Agriculture Systems
(working title). This consortium includes representatives from
around the Northeast region.

The Center's mission is to provide focus, resources and support to assist
Northeastern states in managing and mitigating the sweeping changes now
taking place in agriculture and the food system.

The goal of the Center is to help build the capacity of new and existing
efforts to reverse the decline in farms, farmers and farmland, and in turn,
enhance food security and the quality of life in local communities. The
Center will:

(1) build synergy among the currently disparate activities of many food and
agriculture programs and organizations in the region by channeling efforts
and resources toward common concerns that will result in measurable progress;

(2) provide seed grants that will assist member organizations in
implementing local model projects and joint efforts which have region-wide

(3) offer technical assistance through a circuit rider system to assist in
organizational development, program design, implementation and evaluation;

(4) develop and implement an applied research agenda that will result in
new information and strategies for strengthening agriculture and food
systems in the region; and

(5) develop baseline measures and indices for monitoring quantitative and
qualitative changes in the regions agriculture and food system that result
from the Center's activities

The Center will work toward a stabilization or even increase in
agricultural activity in the Northeast including numbers of farm
businesses, a decline in the average farmer age, and a slowing in the rate
of farmland loss to urbanization. A key approach of the Center will be to
work with community-based agriculture and food system development
strategies which more effectively link farmers with non-farmers in the
region, and increase local and regional food security by linking the
regeneration of agriculture and food processing to the need for improved
food access and the availability of high quality food at affordable prices.
Such strategies include but are not limited to:

Developing farmers markets
Local wholesale marketing
Community supported agriculture (CSA)
Strengthening urban-rural linkages
Entrepreneurial development programs
New farmer training programs
Community kitchens and canneries
Small-scale food processing
Producer and consumer cooperatives and associations
Farmer direct marketing
Community and school gardens
Agritourism development
Improved farmer-neighbor relations
Other local and regional agriculture development efforts

Your comments on this Center concept are very important to us. Please
e-mail your comments to Duncan Hilchey (dlh3@cornell.edu). THANK YOU!

Judy Green                              Phone: 607-255-9832
Coordinator                             Fax: 254-2896
Farming Alternatives Program            Email: jg16@cornell.edu
Dept. of Rural Sociology
B17 Warren Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853-7801