GLRPPR Sector Resource: Local Food and Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives in the United States
Local Food and Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives in the United States
Access to local and sustainable food is a hot topic throughout the United States. In cities and suburbs in particular, consumers increasingly are demanding healthy and safe alternatives to mass-produced products. This demand creates new opportunities for proximate rural regions and small farmers.
Because of high prices and/or inaccessibility, many communities lack food security, defined as "a condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice." Increasing local production provides consumers with sustainable and healthy options, while increasing economic opportunities and food security for producers.
From August to December 2010, Social Enterprise Associates conducted a study in Northern New Mexico on how to improve local agriculture and food security for the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) / Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) program. As part of study A Path Forward for Northern New Mexico's Agricultural Economic Cluster, the consultants compiled best practices from four communities and six local initiatives. The best practices highlight communities and organizations across the country pursuing innovative projects to increase sustainable and local agricultural economies.
From these case studies, many promising themes emerge. The four peer communities (Helena, MT; Burlington, VT; Bellingham, WA; and Boulder, CO) are building local economies. Support organizations, like NGOs, are trying different approaches to achieve comprehensive enhancements in local production. Innovations, including marketing/sales strategies, like 'buy local' campaigns, make a real difference. Infrastructure, policy advocacy, and leadership development efforts address systemic gaps. Initiatives include technical assistance and capital to food enterprises, as well improvements to the agriculture workforce.
These cases are models to emulate for more agricultural production, food security, and sustainable food economies.
Sustainable Industries; Social Enterprise Associates
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