Florida Farm Link - Building the Foundation of a Sustainable Community Food System by Connecting Sustainable Agriculture to Economic Development Initiatives

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,521.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Laura Morton
NRCS/Florida West Coast RC&D

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: networking
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, farm-to-institution
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    The Florida West Coast RC&D Council is the lead agency on a partnership project called Florida FarmLink. The Florida West Coast RC&D Council has focused exclusively on a sustainable local food and agriculture system in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties and will be piloting the Florida FarmLink as part of the RC&D’s agricultural economic development activities. The purpose of Florida FarmLink is to connect entrepreneurs in rural areas to resources so they can meet current demand for local, sustainably-grown food in nearby population centers. The complimentary purpose in creating Florida FarmLink is to educate community leaders and citizens on the importance of the sustainable agriculture sector with this message: entrepreneurial sustainable agriculture that is the heart and soul of a healthy economy in a sustainable community and you can participate in a variety of ways in this network. Although many communities try to promote sustainable communities and sustainable economies, agricultural is often neglected in their efforts. To address this divide, the RC&D is promoting the Florida FarmLink project as an entrepreneurial approach to sustainability under the innovative model of economic development called “Natural Capitalism.” Since fundamentally, natural capitalism is the same model used in sustainable agriculture practices, it provides a perfect opportunity to link the sustainability movement to the earth by demonstrating it through sustainable agriculture economic development. The overall objective of Florida FarmLink is to build a stronger foundation of suppliers of local, sustainably grown food. The opportunity is to actively demonstrate the integration of the agricultural economy into sustainable community development and rural community stability in a participatory way. To do this, the RC&D is building the Florida FarmLink web-based matching service and forum, which will meet needs identified by growers and beginner farmers in the small farms conference and local Agriculture Policy Councils, as well as integrating the service with various sustainability efforts in the four-county area. The outreach plan for Florida FarmLink project is the core of this funding request ($9521) and the key to the success of the project. The largest budget items requested are for the development and printing of six different brochures to target different audiences that can use Florida FarmLink to help build a sustainable community through their entrepreneurial efforts. Those audiences are small sustainable agriculture operations or beginner farmers, private land owners not doing agriculture, churches/faith-based organizations, community members wanting to participate in the local food and agriculture system, local food outlets wanting to promote and sell local food and agricultural products, and the general public. The outreach plan also includes branding and incorporation of the “Fresh From Florida” program logo and extensive outreach in the traditional agriculture network and community at large. A variety of partners will be assisting and involved in Florida FarmLink during its pilot period to build it into a program that eventually goes statewide and can be used as a model regionally and nationally.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Facilitate linkages between rural landowners with farmers and farmers with land and additional resources to achieve their goals in their sustainable farming enterprises and build capacity in the local community food system. Demonstrate the importance of agriculture and local food systems to overall sustainable communities and sustainable economic development using a natural capitalism partnership-based approach Construct an innovative tool that can be used immediately by entrepreneurs in the susainable agriculture sector and function as an on-going needs assessment and communications method for sustainable agriculture and small farmers across Florida Reach out to the community members that may have never had a connection to agriculture, but are interested in community development, civic participation, and sustainability and include them in the solution of a local food system
    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.