The social, economic and ecological problems we’re trying to solve are complex and require a sharp focus and collaborative approach to solving problems. Key to our partnership strategy is our willingness to share knowledge and resources and leverage diverse strategies.
Main Street Project has identified three types of collaboration that are necessary for our work to be successful:
- Peer-to-peer – MSP works with like-minded groups that have similar or overlapping goals and purpose. For example, we’ve developed relationships with the Appetite for Change, Minnesota Food Association and Center for Rural Affairs that have led to sharing curriculum and cross-training opportunities. Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG) helps with issues of land access, land tenure, township zoning, and state regulations.
- Institutional – Working with public and private institutions has yielded tremendous knowledge, resources and markets essential to our development. For example, the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships has helped with both grant seeking and critical scientific research tasks. Third party testing of our production model has opened the door for the University of Minnesota Extension service to share information about our system with established farmers. And Bon Appetit Management Company continues to provide us with reliable markets for our products and support for our ideas on campus at both Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges in Northfield.
- Practice-based partnerships – The opportunity to share experiences and ideas with people and organizations focused on similar challenges is powerful. For example, we’re helping to establish a demonstration and training sites based on our model on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. These sites will provide critical data about the performance of our adapted model under different social, economic and ecological conditions. And the Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Ag Management (CINRAM) at the U of MN helps by connecting interested graduate students, faculty and staff with our field work.