Building your OFN group or organisation in a new country/region

Documenting the process of establishing a new instance of OFN.

Why should I create a local OFN?

Most distribution systems are obscure… a few big groups control a very important share of the market. The farmers and eaters don’t really have a say on which products they want to grow/eat, how it’s been produced, the prices they should get/pay for those products for the system to be fair and sustainable.
OFN can be a powerful lever to create a transparent food system and enable consumers and producers to connect, either directly, or through the middlemen that they want, each one being autonomous.

How to start step by step:

  • Build a team. Share the project locally connect with people who may be interested in it. Get in touch with existing hubs (buying clubs, CSA, …) producers and consumers. Establish the needs of your community but remember think big and broad and know that this is possible, you can make a difference :slight_smile:
    You can also use social media, participate to conferences, to gather interest in the project, and survey consumers and producers if you feel it’s needed.

  • In parallel, build a “minimum valuable product” of the platform so that beta testers can start using it, and you can build your local version with your users. To learn how to get the platform up and running, see this post.

  • With the relevant stakeholders, establish a legal entity, NGO, foundation, association, cooperative or company whose mission is in line with the OFN goals and values. This legal entity will enable your instance to look for grants, and also to invoice the hubs for the use of the platform…

  • … because you also need to find a sustainable business model to enable your local instance to work properly, as you will incur costs, (server hosting fees, domain registration, potentially a developer who can adapt some things on the platform, or develop specific features you need. Or a project developer who will communicate about your project so that potential users learn about it, and also provide support to the hubs. Your business model can be very light, and you can take a very little commission, but you need to think about it too.

  • Note: you will want to consider the region/territory that you wish to cover. Some countries work well with a single instance, some countries are best to connect with others to enable the critical mass required to be a strong non-profit, as well as open up for cross border trading (such as in Scandinavia)

  • Look for funding: crowd funding, donators, grants … we have worked on a database categorizing funds to cover regional, national, EU and global needs. Find chart and new topic here: Taking a collaborative & strategic approach to philanthropic funding

  • Start listing what you need to adapt for your local instance. For example language ( OFN in foreign languages), or you can also see in the wishlist what is already listed. You don’t have to wait for others to develop features you need, but then you need either to find someone who is ready to work on that volunteering, or find funds to pay someone to do it :wink:


i think we might be better to up that starting budget a little . . because the actual tech stuff took longer and we do need to actually cost some of my time etc. I’d be inclined to double it as a starting position so that we’ve actually got some room to move, and invest a bit in improving the processes (e.g. making text that references the country able to be configured by the user and not needing developers to fiddle with it etc)

@openfoodnetwork I revised the budget… the first version was just a copy paste from a file we had started… refined it a bit just now, but need to get links in and add more details

when a new instance is set up on a server, hosted by OFN or not, should we look at including Discourse as part of the package? allowing each instance their own community to discuss their needs and keeping it in line with this one such that we can interlink and share pertinent documentation seamlessly?
@MyriamBoure @openfoodnetwork?
we are going to need to do this for Norway, and due to the fact that OFNAus are hosting us and are up to speed with Discourse, what would it take to set us up?

Sounds like a good idea to include Discourse and connect the local discussions to the global ones. I just sometimes feel a little bit lost in too much discussions, so we should pay attention to structure it very carefully.
We should keep in mind that we have two seperate needs to answer: one is documentation (provide the community with solutions through shared experiences) and the other one is discussion (being able to reply, comment, give opinion). Discourse connected to a wiki can be an interesting model, the wiki being for documentation, and Discourse for discussion.
And I guess the wiki should be common for all OFN projects… so why not discourse? Some discussions will be local, others global, we can have an architecture based on common discussions and local discussions linked to one another, and referring to a wiki, with common documentation, and specific documentation for each separate instance if needed…

hi - yes we’re still working on structure to try and get some shape that makes it easier to follow. key documentation (wiki) pages will then actually be drawn up into a structured site (the global information site) and accessible from each instance (actual live ofn). this is all under development at the moment and i haven’t seen it yet, but i am excited for it! if you want to set up your own discourse it’s very easy - they can do it for you -

We just got them to do the one-time install. Could do it ourselves but everyone has very full plate and discourse have done a wonderful job of making it easy (I aspire to be like them!!)

hi people - I’ve created a new category called ‘Instances’ - which is a really terrible name so extremely open if someone can think of a better one!! Basically to gather together all the higher level information about getting a new OFN started

We can create sub-categories under this if / when needed . . really open to a better name

I’ve been taking a bit of a look at how discourse use discourse and think we can keep learning from them!!

Hi people!

@openfoodnetwork I don’t see the category “instances”… do you mean “international”?

Under “international”, I would suggest 3 sub-categories:

  • Governance: we discuss about the topics related to our global governance, and the connexion with the local governance
  • Community: here it’s about who we are (we can start a topic on that and can all introduce ourselves so that we know who are behind those names and pseudo and make it a bit more human ;-)) and also all the community building aspect, like the monthly hangouts can be tagged in that sub-category.
  • OFN local (to replace “instances” which is a bit technical, but maybe we can find better? In OuiShare we talk about local communities, in MakeSense we talk about “Hotspot”, in Impact Hub we talk about “Chapters”… I thought we can talk about OFN global vs OFN local to talk about the global community or the local communities)

In the last sub-category, can we create sub-sub-categories for each OFN local? UK, Australia, Scandinavia, South Africa… I’m just wondering, because each OFN local may need to have discussion for their local community, and that make sense to gather all the discussion on discourse, so that we can link them to global discussion, or with each other. For example, for Altifrem, we were thinking with @CynthiaReynolds about integrating Discourse in our website also to enable our local community to discuss and report issues, needs, etc. But maybe we could have our own “space” on the global discourse?

I don’t know if we should then replace “international” by “OFN global” (with two sub categories, governance and community) and create a category for “OFN local” where each local community can have a sub-category…

What do you think?

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sounds excellent - do you have enough permissions to rearrange that? I will go and check and put you back to admin if necessary?

Hi @openfoodnetwork, I’m back after the crazy OuiShare Fest week and some days off after that :smile:
It doesn’t seem that I have the permissions to rearrange that. Can you give me them? Thanks :wink:

done @MyriamBoure you are now admin

@CynthiaReynolds I made some changes here and separate the technical stuff (as they are detailed in another post, so I referred to that post) and I updated some things based on your first post… don’t hesitate if you have anything to add!

Ping @Selmo, I think this discussion may interest you. And maybe you have things to add after our meeting to kickstart the project in France? Do we miss something important here?

Hi there,

My name is Spencer. Thanks Myriam for sharing her knowledge about OFN to me just now. Am planning in setting up an instance here in Thailand for the local organic communities. Any advice will be helpful.


Thanks @CynthiaReynolds. Here are some more thoughts from Myriam and me on this topic nearly 3 years after you started it…… now that so many new instances are up and running:slight_smile:

a brief overview :slight_smile:

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Hi Cynthia,

my name is Bel Zanella. I get to Open Food by a friend who told me about the plataform.
I’m social entrepeuneur, jornalist with PR specialization in London. I’ve already speak with Nick few days ago and since then I’ve been reading about how to developing the paltaform in Brazil.
From the last 10 years I’m envolved with local producers and building the bridge betwen producers and consumers. Today I do 4 local markets in two states SP - São Paulo and SC - Santa Catarina and also I facilitating food from the producer and community in 3 hubs (CSA). Today I see the possibility to have a plataform that could help us to bring facilities for the consumer and also for us who is doing this facilitation. I’d like to know if we could make another Skype or if I could speak with the person in Portugal and share his experience there.

Hi @Bel_Zanella and welcome to the network! What you are doing in Brazil sounds AMAZING :clap:

@NickWeir is still the best person to speak to about setting up a local instance of the OFN in Brazil, and the opportunities it can open for you. He can also direct and introduce you to other people in our network who can share their stories and help you on your journey. And it’s @luisramos0 in Portugal who may be able to share his knowledge and assist you.


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yeah, welcome @Bel_Zanella
@danielle meanwhile we had a call with Nick, myself, Bel, Fabricio and David :heart:
let’s do it!


Hi Cynthia,
I am in the process of starting a local community of plastic recyclers ( OFN is very complementary to my goal above because we are all about sustainability at the end of the day, particularly meeting the 17 UN SDGs. One immediate question I have is what is the meaning of local in the context of starting a local OFN community?
Thank you for your kind attention.
Yeu Wen