Who's Connected? Sustainable Producers in the North Central Florida Food System

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2015: $34,665.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kathryn Stofer
University of Florida


Not commodity specific


  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    A food system is ultimately a connected network of people and organizations. In order to understand how the system or network impacts sustainable agriculture and

    how producers use the system to support sustainable agriculture, we must understand what resources and needs they still seek in order to better develop their farming practices and markets for their products. It is also important to understand how well-connected producers are to the network to access such resources. Needs assessment for a group is often accomplished with focus groups, as the discussion among  participants often reveals deeper insights and more information than one-on-one interviews. Focus groups will also identify barriers to adoption of

    existing practices related to sustainable agriculture and will be used to identify the central nodes in the network for social network analysis. Therefore, we will conduct focus groups with a subset of North Central Florida food system producers, then use social network analysis of the entire system to determine which producers are most well-connected to the network and which producers or groups may need to be brought in more closely. Results from these two types of data collection will direct outreach materials and event production. Outreach materials and events will target groups and individuals who are not well-connected to the local food system network to introduce them to the resources of this network. Through our outreach, we will highlight existing resources to support sustainable agriculture which may not yet be

    visible to the producers, retailers, distributors, or other members of the food system.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Identify current needs for and barriers to adoption of sustainable agricultural practices among producers in the North Central Florida food system.

    2. Characterize the network of the North Central Florida food system by identifying central

    nodes, well-connected producers, and producers who need to be more highly-connected to

    the network.

    3. Identify ways that the North Central Florida food system currently meets and does not meet

    producer needs for sustainable agricultural practice resources.

    4. Share results from Objective 3 with food system members to highlight North Central Florida food system resources.

    5. Share results of the research with producers in the system, particularly those who need to

    be more highly-connected in the network, including highlighting existing and newly-developed resources to meet identified needs and overcome barriers found in Objective 1 and address network weaknesses identified in Objective 2.

    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.