Sustainable Food Lab Board members Shauna Sadowski from Annies, Inc. and Jefferson Shriver from Catholic Relief Services shared reflections on 10 years of mainstreaming sustainable agriculture. Shauna noted that over the years she has come to appreciate many things about the organization, but the following aspects, in particular, resonate most with her:
- Diverse perspectives – SFL meetings/LJ’s bring together all parts of the food supply chain and the NGO community, ensuring a diverse and rich perspective on what matters.
- Experiential learning – the learning journeys are one of the most powerful experiences when seeking to understand the food supply chain – who is involved, what they care about, why it matters.
- Reflective inquiry – a very powerful tool within the context of the learning journey – and conferences as well. Carving out space to reflect, ponder and appreciate all that one just took in.
Collaboration remains a vital part of our future as we continue driving toward a more holistic and systems-based perspective of the food/agricultural supply chain. Jefferson highlighted three issues all of which are both related to the past 10 years of SFL and an essential part of the network in the next ten years.
- The most important issue today
- Peru speaks very clearly of the threat and the need to respond.
- Climate change has been a central issue since the beginning of the Food Lab.
- Climate change is now part of the discourse in the food industry.
- SFL has been influential in getting climate on the priority list of many companies and NGOs.
- The Food Lab will continue to prioritize climate change and its link with agriculture and innovating solutions the coming years.
- SFL convenes leaders from different worlds but with common goals.
- This generates innovation because different actors bring a varied perspectives on a problem which is then discussed and integrated into innovative approaches.
- SFL focuses on identifying clear questions rather than claiming to have the perfect answers, and this creates a very creative environment.
- The issues are always very important because SFL listens and this informs the membership. We are all SFL.
- SFL has provided many projects and case studies in the past 10 years providing small producers with links to formal markets. This experimentation laid the foundations for standards and models.
- We will see this work on a much larger scale in the next ten years, thanks to the efforts of the SFL.
Finally the Food Lab is a network of people, leaving their ego at the door, collaborating to learn, share, and work together.