Identifying barriers to sustainable food production by low resource producers and purchase by low income consumers in Washington and Beaufort Counties, North Carolina

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $7,614.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: Duke University
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Chantal Reid
Duke University, Dept of Biology


  • Fruits: berries (blueberries), melons
  • Vegetables: cabbages, cucurbits, onions, peppers


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, farm-to-institution, feasibility study, marketing management
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, community services, employment opportunities, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, public participation, social capital, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    “Food deserts”, regions of limited access to adequate food, still exist in the U.S.  This lack of food accessibility is especially severe in rural and low-income communities. Further, the lack of a sustainable, affordable, and nutritious food supply in these communities is coupled with increased obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases (USDA, 2009). Simultaneously, limited-resource local farmers producing healthy food experience difficulty entering local markets due to inadequate market information and competition from industrialized farms and national chain retailers. The goal of this proposed research is to identify barriers producers face to market entry and barriers consumers face to access high quality and nutritious food in a high-poverty region of northeastern North Carolina.  By elucidating these barriers, mechanisms can be created to connect producers and consumers in these regions and ensure a sustainable, long-term food supply.  In-person interviews will be conducted with local producers, consumers, government officials, and food distribution and retail businesses in Washington and Beaufort Counties, North Carolina.  Questions will address real and perceived barriers based on a literature survey.  Open-ended questions will allow us to identify specific issues facing these two high-poverty North Carolina counties.  Interviews will be recorded and transcribed using InqScribe.  STATA will be used to identify common themes in the qualitative data and for statistical analysis.  The outcome of this research will inform an initiative in the region focused on improving engagement in local food systems and encourage healthy food programs in 31 low-income counties in eastern North Carolina.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Given that some successful models have been developed in other areas and the lack of small scale data on market barriers to entry, my research objectives are:


    1) EVALUATE successful existing regional and national healthy food programs connecting limited-resource producers and low-income consumers using publicly available information;


    2) ASSESS economic and social factors that limit the transfer of sustainable food product between low income farmers and local consumers using a literature review and available datasets.


    3) ASSESS local economic and social factors via interviews with local producers, consumers, government officials, and food distribution and retail businesses in the study area.


    4) COMPARE within county fine scale data to regional macroscale existing data.


    5) DEVELOP a set of recommendations for Resourceful Communities on investment sectors and pilot programs appropriate for the proposed project region to maximize healthy, local food choices for rural communities.

    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.