NH Food System Strategic Plan Focus Groups with ASPIRES



As part of the NH Food System Strategic Plan process, the NH Food Alliance has taken advantage of

a unique partnership opportunity through the University of Vermont (UVM)’s Alternative System Pathways for Interconnected Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability (ASPIRES) program. The ASPIRES program team will host three focus groups with New Hampshire food producers and food system stakeholders to glean information that will inform both the strategic plan’s priority strategies and the program’s goal of identifying research needs in the New England food system. 

ASPIRES is part of the University of Vermont's Food Systems Research Center (FSRC), the first USDA-funded food systems research station in the United States. The program is a multi-year effort to enhance food systems research by understanding what research gaps exist and how research can help food system practitioners across New England. At the end of the program’s first year, the ASPIRES team will analyze the gaps and needs they glean from their focus groups to partner with organizations across New England for future collaborations, including opportunities for co-funding and co-creation of knowledge. 

Andrew May of UVM’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Holly Fowler of Northbound Ventures will host the following focus groups for New Hampshire’s food system. Please register at the links below if you are interested in attending. Prior to the focus group, you will be asked to complete a brief preliminary survey that will help shape the discussion with Andrew and Holly.



December 5, 2023 at 11AM-12PM
Virtual listening session for the 2023 Strategy Retreat attendees

Register here


February 2, 2023 at 12-1PM
NH Food Alliance’s monthly, virtual Network Café



May 17, 2024 at the Barn on the Pemi
In person at the NH Food System Statewide Gathering




To learn more about the NH Food System Strategic Plan, head to the main page

The NH Food Alliance and ASPIRES partnership is a function of the New England Food System Planners Partnership, a collaboration among six state-level food system organizations and Food Solutions New England. Learn more about the ASPIRES program below. 

Alternative System Pathways for Interconnected Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability (ASPIRES) is a collaborative effort led by three programs at the University of Vermont: The Food Systems Research Center (FSRC), The Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), and The Center for Rural Studies (CRS).  The focus of ASPIRES is on visioning, testing, and implementing the future of food systems in the New England region. 

In the first year, the FSRC, as part of ASPIRES, is launching a regional listening tour, working directly with community partners to hear from people on the ground about the challenges facing food systems, and alternative systems, that can transition the region to a more resilient, equitable and sustainable future. This listening tour is intended to engage diverse audiences and communities across the food system including those in agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food retail, food waste and circular economies, food industry, indigenous and underserved communities, food and nutritional security, food and agriculture advocacy, and food policy and governance. 

The goals of the listening tour are:  

  1. to introduce the FSRC to the region and stakeholders
  2. to understand the concerns and perceived challenges in the food system from the perspective of community members and organizations
  3. to discover potential solutions and alternative systems that community members and organizations are interested in pursuing for the region that may provide more resilient, equitable and sustainable food systems for the region if implemented 

Following the listening tour, the ASPIRES program will pursue several of these, and other, potential solutions and provide pilot funding to test, measure, and model the potential impacts of the strategies on resilience, equity, and sustainability outcomes.  The results from the pilot projects can inform the potential implementation of new technologies, ideas, and system changes for the region, as well as policy and industry pathways for adoption.  The resulting program will enable effective decision-making through a community and data driven approach about alternative food futures, while working side by side with community partners who will be most impacted by the changes.



The Food Systems Research Center (FSRC) at the University of Vermont uncovers solutions to society's most pressing issues through the lens of our food system to improve human health, well-being and livelihoods, and environmental sustainability. The Research Center is a partnership between UVM and USDA and focuses on the Northeast U.S. but considers the relationship of food systems across scales from local to global. With over 100 funded faculty, staff, and student collaborators in Vermont and across the world, the Research Center conducts interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research to study food systems: the networks of people, institutions, physical infrastructure, and natural resources through which food is grown, processed, distributed, sold, prepared, and eaten. 

The Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) at the University of Vermont advances sustainable food and farming systems in Vermont and beyond. The CSA cultivates partnership, supports innovative research and practices, and informs policy to benefit Vermont communities and the UVM campus. 

The Center for Rural Studies (CRS) at the University of Vermont addresses social, economic, and resource challenges through applied research, program evaluation, community data and indicators and economic impact studies.