Building Local Food Systems: Training the Trainers, Peer Collaboration, and Materials Development

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $64,113.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: N.C. State University
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
S. Gary Bullen
N.C. State University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), berries (brambles), berries (other), berries (strawberries), grapes, melons
  • Vegetables: asparagus, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, greens (leafy), onions, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: trees
  • Animals: bovine, fish, poultry, shellfish, swine


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution, market study, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems


    Building Local Food Systems Project helped build the capacity of Extension educators to grow local food systems by responding to training needs as expressed by North Carolina Extension educators in a comprehensive 2012 training-needs survey.

    Local Food Systems training was the focus of the 2013 NC Extension Annual Conference. The Annual Conference provided training in Retail Ready for Local Foods, Role of Extension in Enhancing Local Food Access, Local Foods Programing, and Secrets of Community Partnerships. Educational materials were developed and posted on the NC Local Foods web portal

    In addition to building community partnerships to grow local food systems, the project focused on research, materials development, and training to address the top-rated training need expressed by NC agents in the recent needs survey: marketing local foods to restaurants, grocers, and institutions. The Retail Ready education portion of this project is designed to equip agricultural educators to work with small-scale farmers to develop new market relationships with restaurants, grocery, and wholesale buyers

    The two Food Hub workshops were organized to help extension agents working with small-scale farmers evaluate possible food hubs as a way to grow the local food system. To supplement the workshops, two webinars were offered on selected marketing topics. Buyers and farmers experienced in selling to institutional buyers will be recruited to speak at workshop. As a result of the project, many NC Extension educators have incorporated the local foods and retail ready educational materials and training into their county programs.

    Project objectives:

    The project's training objectives are to increase the capacity of Extension educators to work with farmers and educate community members in the development of local food systems and to work with farmers and institutional buyers to establish new business relationships.

    (1) Objective: Extension educators can knowledgeably explain the benefits and challenges of localized food systems to community partners engaged in work in community and economic development, public health, and expanding local food access to limited resource individuals. The inclusion of advisors knowledgeable about food access and community economic development and public health within the Advisory Committee ensures that the training as developed includes these concerns.

    (2) Objective: Extension educators will understand the requirements for selling to restaurants, groceries, and food service buyers (including post-harvest handling specifications and food safety certifications).

    (3) Retail Ready teams organized by extension districts to deliver the curriculum and educational resources to small-scale farmers to increase these farmers sales to restaurants, grocery, and food service buyers.

    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.