Growing the Impact: Building Capacity for Statewide and Regional Food System Plans

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $89,912.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Lindsey Scalera
Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems

Information Products

Farmer Conversations 2022 (Conference/Presentation Material)


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, Community of Practice
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, social networks, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will create a multi-state, virtual professional development community of practice (CP), bringing together diverse leaders working on current and emerging food system plan/charter efforts in the North Central region. This CP will address common challenges and strategies to foster more equitable, sustainable, diverse, and healthy local/regional food systems.

    Participants in food system plan/charter efforts – such as extension educators, farmers, food hub managers, local food council members, statewide food, agriculture, health networks and organizations, and local and state policymakers and agency staff – will increase their knowledge and capacity to conduct their work with an equity lens and build their networks to engage in cross-state collaboration to strengthen local and regional food systems.

    In the long-term, this project will cultivate local and regional food systems in the North Central region that are more equitable, sustainable, diverse, and healthy. The development of a community of practice with an online resource hub and workshop series will provide training and educational resources and allow participants to share learnings and explore opportunities for collaboration across the region.

    We will establish a planning committee composed of North Central state representatives who will reach out to farmers for participation in a focus group discussion to illuminate and prioritize farmer perspectives, help develop and promote the workshop series and CP model to practitioners, participate in the community of practice activities, and possibly serve as presenters.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Activity Outputs 

    • Overall participation of approximately 60 individuals representing at least nine North Central states in a community of practice, including representatives from tribal communities, 1890 and 1994 land grant institutions, and Hispanic Serving Institutions in the region. 
    • Enrollment of approximately 60 individuals in the online community of practice Hub. 
    • Participation of at least six farmers from North Central states in farmer focus group and at least one farmer engaged as a workshop presenter. 
    • Exploration of new partnerships between North Central States with possibilities for seeking collaborative funding; coordinated regional outreach, communications, and/or advocacy; and data collection and/or sharing. 
    • 50-75% participation response in evaluation surveys. 

    Materials Outputs

    We anticipate the following materials will be developed through his project:  

    • An online community of practice hub.
    • A summary brief of learnings from farmer feedback focus group.
    • Four to six recordings of educational presentations, to be made available publicly.
    • At least six stories from participating states.
    • One curated list of resources used or developed by North Central state food system plans/charter initiatives, including the updated scan and directory of states with food system plans/charters.
    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.