Ruminate supports food systems with a conscience and fosters smarter connections between good people and good food.

Ripe for Discussion Highlights: midwest session 1

Building Connections Between Producers and Plates


On June 23, 2019 diverse food leaders from the greater Grand Rapids region came together to discuss how to build stronger connections between the producers of ethical, equitable, and environmentally sustainable food and people’s plates via increased communication and collaboration to support greater stability, growth, and experimentation.


the exercises


Attendees broke out into seven working groups and went through a series of exercises built to identify problems, reframe them as opportunities, concept many solutions, and then refine one.


1. Facilitated Discussion and Problem Statements

During facilitated discussion period attendees shared related personal insights and obstacles. Together, they developed 3-5 problem statements that concisely describe a relevant pain point and its context.

2. “How Might We…” (HMW) Statements

The “How Might We...” translated problems into design opportunities. Here, attendees selected a single, properly framed How Might We to give their team a framework for innovative thinking.

3. Crazy 8’s

This fast sketching exercise challenged attendees to sketch 8 distinct ideas in 8 minutes. It pushed them beyond their first idea and to generate a wide variety of solutions to their HMW statement.

4. Rough Solution Sketch

Solution Sketches tasked attendees with expanding upon a single idea generated during Crazy 8's to more fully flesh out the concept they identify as the most promising solution.

 example HMW statements & Solutions


HMW: How might we build bridges through barter?

Solution: An app that facilitates an in-kind exchange between creatives and food-focused businesses that help those businesses (farmers, restaurants, etc.) create education-oriented marketing campaigns that build awareness around the good food they are creating and the value they are bringing to their community.

HMW: How might we, as businesses, communicate to producers what we’d like to buy?

Solution: An app that matches user profiles between buyers and producers based on shared values, location, and what they buy and sell. Speed-dating style meetups organize matched users into groups for face-to-face interaction.

HMW: How might we make good food accessible to all?

Solution: An app that connects farmers to grocery store owners and restaurant buyers by listing the food they have available as well as what establishments are looking to purchase to support efficient ordering and seasonal planning based on market demand.

HMW: How might we communicate the non-monetary, deeper value of good food to consumers and create more context to understand this value within?

Solution: A brick-and-mortar community gathering space that sells food, grows food, and cooks food—a place that brings together many aspects of the food system not virtually, but tangibly, serving a specific, close geographic radius and tailored to the needs of that community.

HMW: How might we make food valued and accessible to institutions and consumers?

Solution: To have comprehensive school nutrition curriculum that integrates school gardens and introduces cultural traditions through food to instill values at an early age and familiarizes students with new foods.

HMW: How might we make our process and values important to customers?

Solution: A marketing campaign that breaks down the facts on why a certain products cost more than conventional ones(i.e. takes more time to produce, not externalizing costs, smaller company with less capacity).

HMW: How might we, across the supply chain, collaboratively develop a stronger network and marketing strategy with and to consumers?

Solution: A local holiday to celebrate sustainable food that incorporates farm visits and a coordinated social media campaign that promotes local agriculture.

next steps


After condensing conversations and concepts, we are researching:

An app that matches up producers and purveyors with the goal of fostering partnerships by creating a mutually beneficial system where both parties are working with the people and products that match their values.

Some features may include:

  • Optional, in-depth profile creation for robust matching.

  • The ability to create an ideal ‘wish-list’ of products on both the side of the purveyor and producer.

  • A ‘snapshot’ feature where when a match is made, both sides gather insight on the other through the use of iconography.

  • The ability to share contact information with jointly agreed upon matches.

  • Quarterly networking events for users.

Let's keep working!

Connect with us and continue the conversation as we research and move into rapid prototyping. As a group, we’ll all meet once to see how we can organize our effort and you’ll leave with mandates based on your interest.

You could help by:

  • Supporting us by sharing your knowledge as we build a robust landscape of what already exists in this realm, and help identify the gaps in those existing solutions.

  • Being a sounding board for research results and ideas.

  • Taking part in a user interview to inform design.

  • Participating in design feedback rounds and testing.

  • Participating in the pilot.


Hosted by:


special Thanks to our sponsors, our speakers, and the staff at the Søvengård


— Sustainer —

— Friend —


— Featured Guests —


Ken Bair
Store Manager, Bridge St. Market


Rachelle Bostwick
Founder, Earthkeeper Farm


Benjamin Kant
Co-Founder, Revolution Farms


Shelby Kibler
Owner, Field & Fire


Jeremy Paquin
Executive Chef,
Essence Restaurant Group


Patty Wall, SNS
Director of Nutrition Services,
Holland & Saugatuck Public Schools