The need for NEFKE was initially identified through conversations over several years within the Research and Assessment Working Group of NESAWG. Members voiced common challenges in accessing, using and sharing data and information supporting and assessing food systems work. And because it was hard to know who else was doing what across the region (with new initiatives constantly emerging or fading), there appeared to be unnecessary duplication of effort and competition for resources.
With generous support from the John Merck Fund Regional Food Systems program, a pilot project was initiated to explore and develop this audacious and evolving vision for linking people, technology and information in support of food system goals. Our initial focus has been on Farm to Institution value chains in New England. A team of collaborators and technicians have researched, explored, and tested tools and methods, developing prototype tools and resources, including this site.