Collaboration with: Michigan State University, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and John Deere
Investigators: Casey Hoy (Agroecosystem Management Program); Stanley Ernst (Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics)
About: The proliferation of interdependent local food systems within regional areas constitutes a powerful, transformative force within the U.S. economy. The resurgence of these systems is in direct response to concerns about food security and safety, climate change, and unfettered globalization. Such interconnected local food systems provide specialty crop growers, packers, processors, distributors and retailers with excellent opportunities to expand markets, commercialize technological advances, and prompt business growth. However, considerable networking and collaboration skills will be required within and among individuals and groups if these “webbed” local food systems are to evolve and achieve their full potential. In this project, we focus on strengthening networking capacity and honing collaborative skills to prompt market expansion, technology commercialization, and business growth through local food systems that produce and deliver specialty crops in the Midwest. Our goal is to link these distributed local food systems into a robust, interstate, regional network that shares experience and learning, expedites the adoption of new technology and practices, and coordinates planning of entire food supply chains, rather than individual businesses in isolation. The website developed during the project, localfoodsystems.org, remains available as a resource to build local economies rooted in agriculture. Learn more.