Nebraska Community Food Network

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2000: $81,940.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Paul Rohrbaugh
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, potatoes, soybeans, wheat
  • Fruits: melons, apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, swine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, marketing management, feasibility study, market study, value added


    The Nebraska Community Food Network envisioned a regional network marketing group, a super coop if you will. Its goal seems to have been overtaken by a number of developments in the works, i.e. the promotion and proliferation of smaller marketing coops, the growth of farmer’s markets, and numerous on-line food networks. Though the marketing network was short-lived and served primarily a specialty consumer, all Nebraska meal events, it provided NSAS and local farmers with some valuable lessons for cooperative marketing efforts as well as serving as the forerunner to more successful “networks” of marketing producers.


    This project was conceived and planned at a time when small farmers in southeast Nebraska were particularly hard hit by rising input costs, low commodity prices, extremely challenging weather patterns, as well as the increased awareness of environmental damage and contamination. At the same time over half of American consumers are increasingly interested in buying safe, high-quality, locally sustainable, as well as environmentally-friendly food products. Though the local production and direct marketing of food products was clearly on the rise and consumers were increasing their participation in locally available food at farmers markets and roadside stands, there was and still is a tremendous opportunity to bring both more producers and more consumers into a food network. The Nebraska Community Food Network was a pioneering effort to bring increasing numbers of producers and consumers together around food.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this project are simple and straightforward. The first objective was to identify all of the stakeholders in the local food systems and then bring as many of them together as possible into a network. The second objective was to develop, test and evaluate a model for marketing and distributing local foods. The third objective was to build public awareness of the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a regional food system.

    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.