An association for and by food forest fans
Last year, on Oct. 21 we celebrated the launch of the association Food from the Forest. At food forest Thuishaven in Zeewolde. It was a great day, with at least 100 participants and we heard it all the time: we should do this more often, and this is where I want to belong.
This year the association is taking shape. We will start on 28-2 with the first general membership meeting. In it, we as a team will not only introduce a new board, but also invite you to join the association of all food forest enthusiasts together.
In addition, on 21-3, we are organizing through ZOOM the first knowledge session open only to members. About regulations, legal and contract forms. Super interesting and afterwards we will launch our knowledge base full of examples and handy help. That alone is a reason to become a member!
Feel free to read further below about how the association works.
Why is a food forest association important?
There is a lot of networking in the world of agricultural innovation. Regionally, but also nationally. There are also many terms in circulation: nature-inclusive, permaculture, regenerative and agroforestry, to name a few. That can quickly become confusing. Fortunately, the definition of a food forest in the Netherlands and Belgium is currently fairly well defined. Also, all the experts have good collegial contact and think together about knowledge growth and research.
But, who is organizing the movement in the broad sense? Not just as a network, but from an advocacy point of view? No one actually. And that's a danger. Especially as -fortunately- more and more mainstream farmers and other landscape managers are beginning to take a serious interest in methods that build soils, fertility and biodiversity rather than degrade them.
That lack of self-organization can become an opportunity-miss, especially if other agricultural innovations do or better manage to organize themselves to create more scale and impact together.
Hence, we have now become an association that also takes over all the other activities of Food from the Woods and is moving towards ANBI status.
What does the Food from the Woods association look like?
This association is not organized as a quiver, an industry association or a union, but as an association that connects the entire chain. From grower to processor and customer and from expert to science.
An association is a fairly simple legal form: There is a board and there are members. And those members meet at least once a year and decide on the big important things. In this case, it is not a cooperative association in the sense that the members make money together, but it is an association with different categories of members. We have the following categories:
Ordinary members can be food forest owners, but also simply people who care about food forests. In other words, anyone can become a member.
Growers, nut or apple press companies, jam makers, beer brewers, herb dryers, as well as the larger food forest entrepreneurs, food forest experts or developers of harvesting robots and companies we don't even suspect exist yet. This industry is still in its infancy. We think the association can play a nice role in strengthening the infrastructure around food forests. So that not every food forest has to carry the processing wheel and the challenges of market expansion all by itself. And vice versa, so that not all processors have to find their markets all by themselves. Working together is key to making food forests stronger in their revenue model.
An increasing number of organizations want to contribute, or have been created to advance the regenerative movement. These organizations often find it difficult to work with partners that are too small. Now that this association is in place, it can help generate scale for smaller food forest owners, for example. In this way also benefit from the offer of such a collaboration.
What will the association do?
In any case, the association continues what the VOF Food from the Forest was already doing: supporting (future) food forest owners with knowledge and know-how so that they can realize increasingly professional food forests.
But that -wide- objective can take new forms in the association form. We can create (online) and perhaps international working groups on specific topics or niches. We can start strengthening citizen science. We can raise money to develop a hazelnut harvester or start valuing ecosystem services together.
Ideas aplenty, and you will soon be able to help decide on the choices to be made. Do you want to become active in the association? Or become a member? Then sign up now and start deciding on the future of our association next year.