Creating vibrant local food systems requires investment in the physical infrastructure that is needed to grow, transport, sell and prepare foods – infrastructure like farms, food hubs, commercial kitchens, trucks and warehouses. But, getting food from farms to your dinner table in a way that prioritizes equity, transparency, and fairness also requires investment in the soft infrastructure, also known as human infrastructure, that builds trusting relationships and resilient networks of support. There may be a local organic farmer that is going to have a gorgeous crop of tomatoes this year, and a local school or restaurant that wants to do more local sourcing. But how do the farmer and the school food service director or restaurant owner find one another? How do they determine what quantity is needed, when they need it by, how it will get there, and all the other logistics? That is where value chain coordination comes in! Value chain coordination (VCC) connects food systems businesses with each other, with information, and with resources. This work doesn’t always involve packing boxes or running delivery routes, but it is just as critical to building a collaborative and profitable values-based food economy.
People doing value chain coordination build relationships among diverse actors across the food value chain in their region by performing roles that help build more connected, transparent, and fair regional food economies. So far, research has identified nine key roles of VCC (Rocker, 2019):
The Wallace Center has been working with partners and peers for almost a decade to understand, support, and tell the story of VCC. We are excited to help strengthen this growing field of practice and the people working in it! If you are playing one or more of these roles, check out our VCC resources below to find new ideas and friends, and hone your skills!
Join the Value Chain Coordination Community of Practice
Looking to connect with people doing similar work? Hoping to ask questions, share resources, and learn from your peers? Join the VCC Community of Practice!
This VCC Community of Practice (CoP) is a place for those doing the multi-faceted work of value chain coordination to connect with each other and build relationships, share ideas and innovations, and work through common challenges. The VCC CoP includes an online discussion forum and monthly calls.
- Join our monthly call series! On these calls, we host facilitated conversations on topics that are important to people doing VCC work, from how to use VCC to forward racial equity in your community, to how to access federal resources, or to how to capture and communicate the impact of your work. We meet monthly, on the third Tuesday of the month from 3-4:15pm EST. Register for the monthly meeting here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIvd-2rrjIuHdF_sMjxrJi3BufHSbQzO0P9
- Check out the VCC Discussion Group. This is a place to ask questions, share information, and get support from your VCC peers.
- Explore the Resource Library to dig into models, templates, and resources to sharpen your VCC skills.
VCC Evaluation Framework
Do you struggle to capture and share the full impact of your value chain coordination work? Is evaluation continually on your list of things to set time aside for, get help on, or avoid altogether? Dive into the VCC Evaluation Framework!
In partnership with practitioners and experts, the Wallace Center developed an evaluation framework to help you focus and clarify how to evaluate value chain coordination and effectively document the impact of this work. The framework includes a guide and template to help you develop and implement your evaluation plan. These resources will help you align your evaluation systems with your values and capture the full story of your VCC work. You can check out the VCC Evaluation Framework here.
Foundations of Value Chain Coordination Training
Do you want to hone your ability to talk about your work? Feeling overwhelmed by by your workload? Need some new tools to sharpen your skills? Check out the Foundations of VCC Training!
In partnership with Elliott Smith and Sarah Rocker of Kitchen Sync Strategies, we developed a five-part online training to help build the knowledge and skills it takes to do effective and impactful value chain coordination.
The training offers:
- a robust understanding of the foundational terms and concepts of VCC,
- frameworks for understanding the roles of VCC and how they apply to your work,
- an ability to identify strategic leverage points within your value chain,
- tools to prioritize and evaluate your VCC activities to best create scalable, sustainable change, and
- skills to understand how power works in the food system, and how to help redistribute it.
The goal of the training is to help you develop more resilient place-based economies that support whole communities, not just those who benefit from the status quo.
This course is designed for people who are building relationships and networks to strengthen market access for farmers and increase the availability of local food. See the full course page for more information or to jump right into the training.
Interested in hosting a live training? Email [email protected].