KFHs will be governed in line the the legal requirements for Community Interest Companies and based on the principles of Cooperatives (as enshrined in our articles of association). However, KFHs will also attempt to embody contemporary approaches to horizontal governance that enable democratic and representative processes for key stakeholders. Initially, the intention is to set up a devolved structure that allows KFHs to emerge as a distinct community and legal body delivering services and products to the communities it has committed to serving and having the social and environmental impacts it aspires to mediate. Gradually, as KFHs becomes more established further experimentation around governance to further embody the values we are passionate about become possible.
The above image illustrates some of the key ideas around how KFHs will be governed. There are a range of circles that make up the skeleton of the initial governance framework. In line with the requirements of a CIC we will have a board of directors. There will be three directors (one representing the trader members, one representing the hub coordinators, and one representing the consumer and supporter members). This is to ensure that there is a balance of power between the three main stakeholder groups in daily decision making of the CIC. In line with the requirements of being a cooperative these directors are voted into their role by the whole membership of the cooperative (one member = one vote) at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Non-members can purchase from the food hubs but cannot participate in its governance.
The core of KFHs activities is the running of local food hubs. These are where the trading happens, where key income streams lie, where most people will be engaging with KFHs, where most of the social capital and community resilience is built. In line with our overall ethics we intend of keeping as much of the decision-making local to the food hubs as it is there where the particular circumstances of the Kent food system can be known and mediated to deliver services that are as relevant to people in that location as possible. For that purpose each Food Hub will have a circle of people that coordinate each food hub. The circle will be facilitated by the local Food Hub coordinator and members of KFHs who use that food hub can enter the circle to support its operation. Again, each food hub circle commits to having Food Hub coordinator, consumer and supporter members, and traders represented.
KFHs represents an opportunity to foster learning and experience sharing across a range of food hubs and the opportunity for stakeholder groups across Kent to support each other and to foster Kent-wide food system change and Kent economic resilience. Therefore, traders, hub coordinators and consumers/supporters convene in their own Kent-wide circles to stimulate the above processes of learning and development. Here shared experiences in KFHs become evident and innovation can occur that applies to the whole of Kent (within each stakeholder group). It is these circles that propose directors (for their respective groups) to be voted into the director role during AGMs. The Directors will be facilitating these Kent wide stakeholder circles as part of their director role, ensure cross-pollination between these circles and moderate conflicts of interest between these stakeholder groups.