Women Farmers Building a Healthy Community and Economy in the High Country

2007 Annual Report for CS05-033

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2005: $9,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Chelly Richards
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA)

Women Farmers Building a Healthy Community and Economy in the High Country


An institutional food assessment gauged the interest and desires of institutions for local food procurement. It identified the specific barriers and recommendations of institutions on how to make purchasing local food easier. Institutional markets and suppliers will be developed simultaneously. Information gathered by the assessment and input from participants will be used in trainings for local growers interested in selling to institutions. Institutional food purchasers and growers will be brought together for kitchen tours and vendor fairs. The process will be documented and assembled into a “how-to” guide on opening institutional markets for growers in the region and other communities.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objective 1: Conduct institutional food assessment in eight counties in the High Country (Watauga, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Caldwell, Wilkes, Alleghany).
Objective 2: Conduct two trainings for women farmers on successful production and marketing strategies for local institutional markets.
Objective 3: Develop a guide on how to develop institutional markets in the High Country for the future and to share with others attempting to develop these markets in their communities.

Objective 4: Develop two institutional markets for locally grown and processed foods.


A list of 68 regional institutions was compiled. A survey on institutional food purchasing practices, desires, barriers, and recommendations was created, tested, and revised. All of the institutions were contacted. Forty-one of the institutions participated in the survey. Preliminary results of the survey were compiled and disseminated at a local food conference. A first draft of a formal report on the research is complete.

Milestones still to be reached include organizing a "meet and greet" for growers interested in selling to local institutions and institutions interested in purchasing local food, completing our formal report to be released to the public on our research findings, and the compilation of a guide on developing local institutional markets.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Through this project we will assess institutional barriers and desires for local food procurement. This assessment will strengthen proposals for future community food projects. In the development process of this unique market, BRWIA will demonstrate and prove the market potential by moving local food into the institutional food services and, thus, increasing the percentage of local food commodities procured by target institutions. This project will equip women farmers with the tools they need to become successful producers and marketers to local markets. In addition we will help foster relationships between the institutions and farmers in the area interested in building a local food system that benefits the entire community.