Building Capacity for Local Foods Infrastructure Development

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $171,079.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Kathryn Draeger
University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships
Greg Schweser
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, study circle, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    The Building Capacity for Local Foods Infrastructure Development project will create a collaborative learning network using traditional and new models of online delivery to support scale appropriate infrastructure development of community-based food systems focusing on Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The ultimate intent of the project is to contribute environmental benefits, improve farmer livelihood, and increase the health and well-being of farmers and consumers. Using three pilot communities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota we will target locales with community food systems at differing stages of maturation. Methods will include design action/learning circles, in each community, a learning summit of all the participants from the three states, and cutting edge e-learning tools applied to building local foods infrastructure in the region. Audiences will include growers, economic development officers, and planners, convened as locally-based design action/learning circles and as a broader tri-state learning consortium for networking, innovation, and shared priorities to hasten and strengthen community food systems development across the region.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Building Capacity for Local Foods Infrastructure Development

    As the local foods movement grows the capacity to participate will vary for different communities. Small towns and rural communities have differing sets of needs that are based on differences in local geography, infrastructure, transportation networks, economic history, etc... To create tools that can act as a stepping stool to build a continuous increase in local foods capacity, this project will develop a set of curriculum at three levels using actors from three different communities that are at different levels of local food system development. The result will be a set of tools that a community can use to expand their local food capacity regardless of their existing level of activity.

    What we will do:
    •Work with a cohort of practitioners in communities (farmers, ranchers, planners, economic development officials, etc) to identify issues, problems, opportunities, etc for communities that are context and scale-specific.

    •Develop scale appropriate curricula and identify resources for the three communities at varying levels local foods capacity.

    •Provide networking opportunities both within the communities and between communities. As communities become more fully developed they can learn from those in the ‘more advanced’ communities to take their level of local foods capacity to the next level.

    How will we do this:
    •Establish a baseline set of needs and goals for each community

    •Develop curriculum based on those initial needs and goals

    •Provide opportunities for individual and community growth through learning circles, and online tools that are transferrable from community to community

    •A learning summit that brings together all cohorts to share information and network across state and community boundaries

    What will be the results:
    •Ongoing collaboration among communities, regions, and states around local food issues

    •A set of best practices that can be implemented by each pilot community

    •Increased capacity for local food actors to build community food systems

    •A packaged curriculum that will be made available through extension and through online tools

    •A collection of online and print tools and resources for use by local foods value chain participants to strengthen the economic capacity of their 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.