Growing Local - Phase III

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $300,000.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Charlie Jackson
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Farm Business Management: farmers' markets/farm stands
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems


    Over the course of this research project, ASAP developed and tested a theory centered on the idea that substantive food system change relies on broader food system participation and a process that provides people with ways to engage with food and agriculture in meaningful ways. Within this theoretical framing, research questions asked how and why local food system building in particular could be a catalyst of positive food system change and what strategies and actions could facilitate that change. Findings of the research fall into two key areas. The first area describes impactful strategies used by leader farmers, successful food entrepreneurs, and advocates and organizers for place-based food systems. The second area focuses on the impacts of these strategies - tangible changes in the region’s farming and food system as well as in the underlying conditions that have supported them. 

    Research dissemination was a significant focus of Phase III. Dissemination activities included developing reports of findings, presenting findings at academic and farmer conferences, and creating tools and resources for local food system stakeholders to use to support their efforts to farm, market, and/or organize.

    Project objectives:

    • Conduct farmers market research to implement and test specific interventions and develop best practices that communities can use to create vibrant farmers markets (including low-resourced markets) that support the economic viability of farms.
    • Conduct an analysis of the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture for the region.
    • Finalize entrepreneur research – a series of interviews conducted with local food entrepreneurs whose businesses are linked closely to the region’s developing local food system.
    • Conduct interviews with the attendees of local food and farm events.
    • Conduct broad surveys with farmers and food system buyers.
    • Finalize analyses and research findings. 
    • Develop research-informed tools and resources for farmers and food system buyers. 
    • Disseminate research findings to key audiences.
    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.