- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, study circle, workshop, youth education
- Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, cooperatives
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, public participation, quality of life, social capital, social networks, values-based supply chains
This project will contribute to the economic, social, and ecological sustainability of our food system by facilitating collaboration between farms, helping farmers find resources to succeed, increasing consumer awareness of locally available farm products, and engaging the greater community including youth, organizations, businesses,and government in the local food economy.
The overall goal of my project was to get more locally and sustainably-grown food to more people in and around my county. Based on my observations while participating in various efforts to do this, I determined that it would be helpful to take a step back and assess the current state of our local food economy, use the information to build a support network of farmers, then engage potential consumers.
Specific Project Objectives:
Contribute to the economic, social, and ecological sustainability of our food system by facilitating collaboration between farms, helping farmers find resources to succeed, and increasing consumer awareness of locally available farm products.
Decrease reliance on fossil fuels for transportation by improving local marketing channels; spread knowledge about ecologically sound agricultural methods such as water conservation, cover cropping, and rotational grazing; and reduce food waste by educating consumers.
Help farmers save money by sharing tools and equipment, exchanging labor with each other on large projects, and bulk ordering supplies; provide labor to farmers through youth internship; connect farmers with financial and technical resources; increase local sales by raising consumer awareness; and save consumers money by buying directly from farmers.
Create opportunities for social interaction among farmers and between farmers and community members, connect youth with farmers and their community, free up time for farmers, and increase public access to fresh, healthy foods.
I proposed to do this through:
Conducting interviews with local farmers to identify their products, production and marketing methods, future goals, and barriers to success. This information will be compiled into a farmer directory, and will be used to create a resource guide to address farmer needs such as financial assistance, technical advice, marketing information, growing information, food safety rules, legal advice and agricultural suppliers. (The directory was not created)
Holding Four “Farm Summits” (once a season) to bring farmers together to facilitate collaboration. We will discuss season plans, coordinating plantings to meet demand, cooperative marketing opportunities, bulk ordering, tool and equipment sharing, labor exchanges, and share knowledge and experiences. This will also provide a much needed social outlet!
Coordinating a youth farming internship to give high school students the opportunity to learn about growing food by working on local farms. This program will make youth more invested in the community and allow them to explore farming as a career, and the extra help will also benefit farmers. (This portion was not completed)
Publishing four seasonal newsletters to educate consumers about local foods and farms by profiling area farms, listing locally available products and where to get them, sharing recipes for seasonal produce, listing relevant local events, and providing sustainable farm and garden tips. Because of the considerable positive feedback, I decided to publish these newsletters eight times a year instead of quarterly.
Organizing a “Local Foods Showcase” event to highlight local farms, allow farmers and consumers to interact, and educate consumers about what is available. (This was not completed)
I also proposed to meet with local stakeholders including government officials, local businesses, civic organizations, and other non-profits to discuss starting a monthly farmers market in Gainesville.