- Education and Training: focus group
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
- Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities
Increasing demand for local foods presents new opportunities for rural income generation and sustainable agricultural development in West Virginia. However, most WV farms are small and remote, culturally risk-averse, and may face unique limitations that affect their ability to take advantage of new market opportunities. This study seeks to provide Extension faculty with desired information regarding the factors that may contribute to WV farmers’ ability to participate in and generate income through unique local food markets. It also complements recent studies estimating local food impact based on land potential by providing a projection of potential supply response of farmers that increase or diversify their production. With the assistance of extension agents, the graduate student will conduct focus groups with a diverse group of farmers to determine farmer goals and perceived limitations with respect to access and participation in local food market channels. A statewide survey of farmers will also be conducted to generate a larger amount of data. Results will be analyzed using statistical analysis and discussed with Extension faculty to determine key factors that contribute to or limit farmers’ success in accessing and establishing themselves in new local food market channels. Results will be disseminated through Extension and academic publication in order to increase the availability of information that can inform new initiatives in WV and Appalachia to address farmer needs and increase rural income generation through nascent local food markets.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Provide information directly to development professionals working on local food development in order to improve targeting and efficacy of interventions designed to facilitate rural income generation in local food markets.
1.1. Generate first-hand information about factors that enable and limit farmers’ success in accessing and growing in local food markets via focus groups and surveys.
1.2. Determine the characteristics of farmers that are successful in local food markets.
1.3. Identify key farm-level, cultural, and market environment factors that limit farmer ability to take advantage of local food markets.
1.4. Determine proportion and geographical distribution of farmers according to their farm expansion and diversification plans to enable Extension to focus development efforts on different groups.
1.5. Disseminate results to Extension professionals via WVU Extension and Appalachian Foodshed Project websites and through presentation at WVU Extension conferences and workshops.
2. Contribute to information base available to practitioners and scholars regarding the implications of estimated magnitude and nature of farmer supply response for the impact of local food development in WV and Appalachia.
2.1. Generate projection of potential local food supply increase based on projected farmer supply response and incorporate into report regarding factors that enable or limit farmer success and potential for expansion in the local food system.
2.2. Publish results via Extension website, and via scholarly publication and conference presentation to contribute needed information about emerging local Appalachian food markets to the body of knowledge focused on local food system development and rural income generation.