Final report for MW17-006

Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2017: $24,998.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Idaho Extension
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Lauren Golden
University of Idaho
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Project Information

Abstract:

There is an increased demand and growing interest for local foods in Idaho.  Many communities are looking at this growth and trying to assess or evaluate the impacts of the “buy local” phenomenon. Several Idaho communities have already taken on a community food assessment, developed a food hub and/or have an active Food Council, Food Coalition or other food systems organization. Each community has different goals and each is at a different phase of building a more resilient food system.   

While many communities have made progress, there are still many challenges to convening food system practitioners on a local or regional level. For many food systems, the next step is to identify, prioritize and justify projects that contribute in some form to improved food security and increased availability and consumption of local foods. One component that is lacking for many Idaho communities is the ability to evaluate the economic impacts of local foods to individual communities, and to the overall state.

Therefore, the Idaho SARE Advisory Committee identified the need to develop food system technical assistance workshops organized by UI Extension and tailored for individual communities and a large conference focused on the economic analysis of local foods. As such, this proposal aims to: 1) increase capacity for food system practitioners, statewide, to prioritize and achieve food system goals and 2) increase use of data to evaluate and communicate the economic impacts of local foods to Idaho communities.

Project Objectives:

This project has the following objectives:

  • Conduct one large conference in Boise, ID focused on the economic metrics of evaluating impacts from local food systems. This conference will help convene many of the food system leaders throughout the state and will capture communities that are interested in applying for the proposed food system technical assistance workshops, provided by UI Extension. The end-goals of the large conference are to help communities develop an economic framework to target investments and initiatives to improve the food system. Another significant advantage to hosting a conference in the state capital is to engage with public policy leaders and officials to discuss “how food systems can impact our local economies”. Ultimately, the conference will help create an economic engine around local foods for Idaho communities.
  • The second major component of this proposal is to conduct food system workshops tailored for three to five individual Idaho communities to increase local food system efforts.

The U.S. food system is a complex set of interactions comprised of economic, social, environmental, cultural, and political factors. This means that the food system not only constitutes food production but the processing, distribution, consumption, and food waste management. Over the last decade, as consumers have increased demand for locally produced food, so have questions regarding what are the limitations of our national food system to consumers, farmers, and the environment (Martinez, et al., 2010)? Therefore, a major objective of this project is to help individual communities make structural transformations to their local food system. As a result, Idaho will provide multiple models for replication and offer a statewide strategic road map of food system reform.

Education

Educational approach:

The Idaho SARE PDP Advisory Committee, comprised of land grant university faculty, farmers/ranchers, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, identified a need to develop food system technical assistance workshops organized by UI Extension and tailored for individual communities and a large conference focused on the economic analysis of local foods.

This project has the following objectives for providing education and technical support in Local Food Systems:

1. Evaluating Impacts of Local Food Systems Statewide Conference

From our proposal, we stated that “This conference will help convene many of the food system leaders throughout the state and will capture communities that are interested in applying for the proposed food system technical assistance workshops, provided by UI Extension. The end-goals of the large conference are to help communities develop an economic framework to target investments and initiatives to improve the food system. Another significant advantage to hosting a conference in the state capital is to engage with public policy leaders and officials to discuss ‘how food systems can impact our local economies’. Ultimately, the conference will help create an economic engine around local foods for Idaho communities.”

The SARE PDP Advisory Committee met by Zoom on May 15, 2017 to discuss the State Enhancement Grant award and to give suggestions about a statewide conference on local food systems, and the format of the smaller workshops offered across the State. 

Our project PIs met by Zoom on June 1, 2017 to start planning the statewide conference, and identified our target audience as agricultural and food systems professionals, farmers, food entrepreneurs, university and college students, policy makers, nonprofits, and community members.  The PIs set the date for a statewide conference to be held on October 18, 2018 at the Riverside Hotel in Boise, ID.  We felt this date would work well for several conference participants that already plan to attend the Idaho Hunger Summit scheduled for October, 17th at the same location.  The focus of the conference would be to build professional development and to engage communities around projects that could enhance local food systems in Idaho.  The PIs met again by Zoom on Dec 18, 2017 to further plan the focus and agenda for the conference.  We identified two main topics including:

  • How do you cultivate a sustainable local food system that pays Idaho farmers and ranchers a sustainable, living wage AND is affordable for the general population (how to bridge the economic gap)
  • Understanding the value of local, sustainable food

The PIs also decided that we will also showcase all of the regional projects that are awarded a Local Food Systems mini grant, either as a poster session or as an Ignite! session with short, 5-minute talks about each project.  We discussed using an Appreciative Inquiry process for our afternoon session to inspire conference attendees on ways we can enhance local food system projects across the State.  We also discussed possibly using a Ripple Effects Mapping exercise to identify regional and statewide connections, and how we can further mobilize efforts.

2. Mini-grants to offer Local Food Systems workshops

The second major component of this proposal is to conduct food system workshops tailored for three to five individual Idaho communities to increase local food system efforts.  During June 1st meeting, the PIs developed a process for a Request for Proposals for communities to apply for a Local Food Systems mini-grant to host a workshop or project.  We felt the focus of these workshops would focus on the train-the-trainer model under the SARE Professional Development Program, and would focus on community development in local food systems.  The PIs felt that communities at various levels of readiness and desiring technical assistance should be encouraged to apply.

The PIs created a Request for Proposals (WSARE_Idaho_FS_application_10.15.17) that was sent out widely across the State using email list-serves, UI Extension media, and Facebook.  A total of 11 communities submitted a proposal by December 15, 2017.  The total requested funds amounted to $41,112, with fund requests ranging from $1000-$5000.

Our PIs developed a process for reviewing the proposals, and requested our SARE PDP Advisory Committee to help review the proposals using a developed rubric (IDSARE_LFS_Reviewer_Rubric_revised.12.20.17).  We notified any person on the SARE PDP Advisory Committee that submitted a proposal that they would be excused from the review process.  A total of 8 reviewers submitted proposal reviews and joined in a Zoom meeting on January 11, 2018.  The SARE PDP Advisory Committee made a recommendation to the SARE Coordinators on their suggestion for funding, emphasizing their desire to spread budget funds geographically across the state.  The Idaho SARE Coordinators will meet again mid-January to discuss the Advisory Committee recommendations and review our State Enhancement Grant budget to see what is feasible to fund in addition to our statewide local food systems conference.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Community Local Food Systems Conference
Objective:

Provide training for communities across Idaho to gather and analyze economic metrics data to evaluate and report the economic contributions of a particular sector of the local food system.

Description:

Many Idaho communities are further along with food system efforts and are seeking ways to perform an economic analysis of local foods. Therefore, the first major outreach component of this project is organizing a large conference focused on the economic metrics of local foods in Boise, ID. The PIs and the Advisory Committee will utilize local research and expertise for much of the training. Such as a recent research project developed by UI Economist, Steve Peterson, who conducted an economic analysis of the Moscow Farmer’s Market, using both primary and secondary data. His experience will be utilized to provide training for other communities to gather and analyze data to evaluate and report the economic contributions of a particular sector of the local food system.

Outcomes and impacts:

Short- and Medium-Term Outcomes:

o   Increase awareness of local and community food systems.

o   Increase understanding of methodologies to help communities start or continue the conversation for enhancing local food system efforts.

o   Increase capacity of Extension Educators, non-profit groups, cities, volunteers, and community leaders to work together to prioritize and achieve community food system goals.

o   Increase community-use of primary and secondary data to measure economic indicators.

o   Increase communication to political officials, community members, and consumers, regarding the impact of local food for economic and community development. 

o   Increase local and regional collaborations.

 

Local Food System Community Workshops
Objective:

Conduct food system workshops tailored for three to five individual Idaho communities to increase local food system efforts.

Description:

Local Food System Community Workshops will be offered in 3-5 communities across Idaho.  Workshops will be tailored to the specific community needs, and will provide training and professional development for farmers, consumers, nonprofits, Extension Educators, cities, volunteers, and community leaders. 

Examples of tailored food system workshops may include (but not limited to): 1) a guided workshop on conducting a Community Food Assessment to help identify gaps in local food systems, 2) how to organize and convene a successful food policy council or coalition, and 3) implementing farm-to-school and healthy plate initiatives. The facilitated workshops will include speakers with subject matter expertise. This will include UI Extension Educators and outside experts from other Universities, non-profits, agencies, and community groups.

Another important planned requirement for the individual community workshops are to include retail suppliers and food service businesses at the meetings. The research team believes that part of the solution is creating demand for local products, in addition to building capacity. Therefore, a goal is to also invite businesses and consumers to come and gain awareness and an understanding of local agriculture and it’s economic role in the community. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Short- and Medium-Term Outcomes:

o   Increase awareness of local and community food systems.

o   Increase understanding of methodologies to help communities start or continue the conversation for enhancing local food system efforts.

o   Increase capacity of Extension Educators, non-profit groups, cities, volunteers, and community leaders to work together to prioritize and achieve community food system goals.

o   Increase communication to political officials, community members, and consumers, regarding the impact of local food for economic and community development. 

o   Increase local and regional collaborations.

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
4 Minigrants
1 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
2 Published press articles, newsletters
3 Study circle/focus groups
3 Tours
9 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days
3 Other

Participation Summary

85 Extension
16 NRCS
36 Researchers
14 Nonprofit
6 Agency
37 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

64 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
35 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

17 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
2 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

This project is in the planning stages to implement one large conference in Boise and several community food system workshops across Idaho.  Eleven communities submitted a proposal in December 2017 to host a food systems workshop for spring-summer 2018.  The total requested funds amounted to $41,112, with fund requests ranging from $1000-$5000. 

Our PIs developed a process for reviewing the proposals, and requested our SARE PDP Advisory Committee to help review the proposals.   A total of 8 reviewers used a rubric developed by the SARE Coordinators to score the proposals and submitted their reviews to the SARE Coordinator Assistant. Our team of reviewers included a farmer from Sandpoint, a farmer from Salmon, a representative from ISDA Idaho Preferred, a staff member from Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, on staff member from Rural Roots, two from University of Idaho Extension, and one University of Idaho Extension Professor Emeritus from Butte County.  Reviewers joined by Zoom web conference to discuss and review the proposals.  The SARE Coordinator Assistant gave the recommendations from reviewers to the SARE Coordinators.  Reviewers emphasizing their desire to spread budget funds geographically across the state, but understood the limitation of grant funds that could be distributed.  The Idaho SARE Coordinators will meet again mid-January to discuss the recommendations and the budget to see what we can fund for the community food system workshops in addition to the larger food systems conference scheduled for October 18, 2018 in Boise, ID. 

 

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Idaho SARE Coordinators have promoted the WSARE at the Small Farm and Food Expo in Spokane on November 4, 2017 with a table of SARE publications and a WSARE banner used for PDP programs in Idaho.  

The Idaho SARE Coordinator Assistant has promoted WSARE and distributed SARE publications at the 2017 Women in AG Conference in Moscow, ID on November 18, 2017.   The Idaho SARE Coordinator Assistant has shared SARE publications at the Rural Roots Monthly Speaker Series held every second Wednesday of the month at Hunga Dunga in Moscow.

65 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
40 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.