Lone Tree Foods

Lone Tree Foods 2Purpose

The local community can benefit from innovative food movements by harnessing collaboration between local food producers and buyers.

Goal Statement

Facilitate the first part of a Lone Tree Foods meeting to understand their hopes and aspirations for how food is grown and eaten in the local community.  Create collaborations and connections among the Lone Tree Foods members so they can become a stronger community organization.


We facilitated the first part of a Lone Tree Foods meeting on Tuesday, October 29th, at Benson Branch Library.   71 participants were invited via Facebook.  Although we set up the room for 22 participants, 33 showed up.  Although the meeting was intended for producers and chefs, only producers showed up.  Two attendees brought their young children who blended in beautifully.  Their parents were appreciative of the play items and board books in the children’s area.  Since the meeting room is adjacent to the children’s area, the parents could walk in and out as needed.

Autumn Hill, thankfully, had extra survey and contact information forms left over from her recycling facilitation for our group to use.  We’d have been standing at the copy machine otherwise.  We also discovered that having a box of golf pencils in the facilitation kits would be handy.  Since our group came from mid Nebraska to mid Iowa, people asked, “If we don’t know anything about the Omaha Public Library, do we still need to fill out the survey?”  Good question!  We asked them to fill it out which they graciously did.  We wondered if that might skew the initial survey results a bit.  Perhaps Theresa Jehlik has thoughts about this?  [Theresa Jehlik’s thoughts – Since the survey primarily asked about community involvement and not the library, I don’t think the results will be skewed much, if at all.]

I thought maybe Amy Mather and I should run through our script one more time but she was confident that we could wing it.  Although I almost forgot to have the group introduce themselves, we did fairly well.  If I was doing this again, I would have people stand, state their name, organization, and favorite fruit or vegetable to grow or prepare.  Since the first few people didn’t speak very loudly, we asked everyone else to speak up so they could be heard.  Because the group was so large, we’re not sure that everyone got a good visual of the person speaking.  We only used a couple of questions and got some great feedback.  We broke into groups at each table and asked people to take 5 minutes to introduce themselves again and tell how local foods have impacted them or someone they know.  Each table then shared a story with the entire room.  One of the impact stories was from a lady who talked about local foods and how she lost a significant amount of weight by eating healthy local foods.  From our observation, we think the group really enjoyed the story sharing process.  We should have done a self-assessment afterward but were really busy moving those heavy tables and chairs to get the meeting room back in order.

While flip-charting, we probably should have written bigger and less (get the gist of what they were saying in a short phrase).  We’re still struggling with that skill.  Since Lori, our meeting organizer, had written her topics in advance on sticky sheets, it was hard to get the notes on the right sheet when the group got off topic.  Jocelyn Nickerson, Nebraska State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, asked me if the library had a meeting room that could hold 60+ people as she was planning a Saturday meeting in February.

She also asked about the library being able to facilitate the meeting.  So there is a need!  I said we could talk but don’t think we’ll be unleashed by then!  All in all, it was a fun morning.  Serving local treats and coffee and providing a break for participants to network was a plus.  I have no doubt that people who met for the first time are going to want to connect again!

One of the things we regret is not capturing the impact stories more effectively.  It was a pretty powerful morning for connecting.  We truly feel that without the facilitation the meeting would be just an ordinary meeting.  Facilitation lends itself to connecting!

Posted by Joanne Ferguson Cavanaugh, Facilitator-in-Training

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