Founded in 2012 in response to the intersecting crises of diabetes, obesity, environmental degradation, and poverty, New Haven Farms works to transform vacant, dilapidated urban spaces in New Haven’s poorest neighborhoods into small, organic farms. Through its farm-based wellness program, the nonprofit provides low-income adults who are facing diet-related, chronic disease risk factors weekly cooking demonstrations, nutrition classes, gardening seminars, and a share of fresh vegetables and fruits (along with culturally relevant, affordable, nutritious, and bilingual recipes). Its new pilot program, “Peels & Wheels,” uses bikes to transport residents’ food waste to one of its farms, where it is composted and then used at the nonprofit’s farm sites.
Focused on environmental learning and leadership, Common Ground aims to cultivate habits of healthy living and sustainable environmental practices among New Haven residents. To do so, the center operates an eco-focused charter high school and an urban demonstration farm, and offers a range of programs designed to help people of all ages connect with the natural world and develop habits of sustainable living. Its gardens grow 10,000+ pounds of fresh, local produce a year, which it shares with 2,500 low-income community members, and support nearly 100 paid youth jobs and 4 youth business ventures.
CitySeed works to provide access to fresh, local food for all New Haven residents. To do so, the nonprofit founded and administers the New Haven Food Policy Council, which advocates for healthy food for all residents and runs a range of programs focused on connecting people to local food. CitySeed also operates five farmers markets as well as a mobile market to bring fresh produce to food deserts, and offers double value for SNAP (food stamps) customers. Most recently, it opened Kitchen at CitySeed, a commercial kitchen space designed to incubate small food businesses and support hands-on educational programs.
Jill Hardy, Dr. Michael Hamm, Rich Pirog, Dr. John Fisk, Jeff Farbman and Micaela Fischer
Food hubs—businesses that actively manage the aggregation and distribution of source-identified food products—are receiving continued, growing attention from diverse stakeholders who see food hubs as vectors for economic growth and social and environmental change. As consumer desire for local and regional foods continues to grow and evolve, food hubs are increasing in number and adapting to shifting demand from intermediated local and regional food markets. The 2015 National Food Hub Survey and its predecessor, the 2013 National Food Hub Survey, represent a broad effort to aggregate national-level data on the characteristics and impact of food hubs. Together, these surveys represent the beginning of a longitudinal database from a large, broad national sample of food hubs.
This issue brief outlines a road map to create a more sustainable and equitable food system. It first provides an overview of the existing state of food insecurity in the United States; it then gives an overview of national best practices, highlighted through specific case studies, and discusses tools to fund such initiatives and to build cross-sector partnerships that take a holistic approach to addressing food deserts and food insecurity.
With the recent and continued growth in the demand for locally grown food, questions emerge about market characteristics, the capacity of local food systems to support regional economic development, and the economic aspects of the production and consumption of local foods. What do we know about the economics of local and regional food systems? What is the status of research in this arena? The authors and contributors to this report found no comprehensive literature review concentrating solely on the economics of local or regional food system development. We seek to address this literature gap by providing a review and annotation of key publications on the economics of local food system development. Within this subject, we specifically focus on the characteristics of local food markets, local food consumers and motivations for purchases, local food producers and food hubs, and the role of food systems in community and economic development. Potential beneficiaries of this literature review include educators and other academic staff, students, local food advocates, and a range of professionals who participate in local food system development. Structured to highlight key findings from many sources up front, and followed by an annotated bibliography of selected publications, the review is designed to serve as a helpful introduction to recent research on the economics of local foods in the United States. Food system research in the state of Minnesota receives a special focus in this review.
This case study provides an analysis and evaluation of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). To examine CSA as a potentially viable Future Economy Initiative, interviews, a survey, and secondary data sources were utilized. From May 2014 to October 2014 16 in-person semi-structured interviews with CSA farmers were conducted across three counties in Western Massachusetts. A copy of the interview and survey can be found in the appendix. There have been few comprehensive efforts to analyze CSA across the United States, however this study provides an overview of the CSA and the resulting economic, social, and environmental outcomes.
The local food movement has been gaining momentum in the United States, with farmers’ markets and new direct-to-consumer arrangements such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) gaining in popularity. Yet while proponents of local food point to its environmental, economic, and social benefits, little research has investigated the impact of local food on community wellbeing. Vermont leads the country in farm stands, direct-to-consumer sales, and farmers’ markets per capita and the town of Hardwick has received attention for its growing economy based on new food and agriculture businesses. This project applied a multi-disciplinary methodology to assess the impact of a local food economy on the environmental, economic, and social wellbeing of the community.
Founded and now led by family farmers, the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) strives to foster prosperity among Hmong farmers through cooperative endeavors, capacity building, and advocacy. Its work is grounded in communitarian values and based around the Whole Food Model, which explicates that all aspects of the “farm-to-fork system” must be addressed simultaneously to build real intergenerational, community wealth. In 2014, HAFA established a 155-acre incubator and research farm, an initiative aimed at providing Hmong farmers with access to farmland near metro areas, educating farmers about sustainable agricultural practices, and preserving land for food production.
Launched in 2011, the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City is a network of 13 producers united by socially, economically, and environmentally just practices and principles who are working to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to urban grown foods. Participating producers can collaborate to collectively market and publicize their products, use shared equipment, and sell at the Alliance’s Saturday farm stand. To help ensure all city residents can access fresh produce, the Alliance launched its Double Dollars program in 2013. Through this program, the Alliance raises funds so that it can match EBT and WIC customers’ purchases at neighborhood-based farm stands, enabling them to buy twice what they could otherwise afford. In 2015 alone, the program provided matches for more than 1,400 unique participants.
Baltimore Free Farm is an egalitarian collective of gardeners and activists aiming to provide all community members with access to healthy food. To do so, they rent plots on sliding scale fees so that all people can grow vegetables. They also maintain a collective garden, greenhouse, pepper patch, compost bin, tool shed, and chicken coop. Committed to preventing food waste, members of the farm go every Wednesday to produce distributors and grocers to rescue 300-500 pounds of “distressed goods” (i.e., items too ripe to sell or past their expiration date) and give those items to community members for free.
An initiative of the nonprofit Civic Works, Real Food Farm aims to achieve a just and sustainable food system by improving neighborhood access to healthy food, providing experience-based education, and developing an economically viable, environmentally responsible local agriculture sector. The Farm has an 8-acrce site in and around the City’s Clifton Park, where it trains and employs area youth and adults in agricultural and horticultural jobs, and provides hands-on educational opportunities for the community. To ensure all community residents can access fresh produce, the Farm launched its Mobile Farmers Market in 2011 that brings its produce to neighborhoods lacking easy access to fresh, healthy goods, and provides a match of up to $10 worth of produce to customers using EBT or WIC vouchers/checks.
Established in 2012, Eat the Yard (ETY) is a veteran-owned urban farming enterprise focused on growing healthy, organic food. Aiming to minimize its environmental footprint, ETY relies on a closed-loop system: the enterprise uses the compost and oil-waste from its customers to create the bio-diesel that powers its equipment and delivery truck, as well as to grow more produce. To help develop Dallas’ local food system, ETY also provides consultation and instillation services to community residents interested in developing their own urban or rooftop garden. Read more about Eat the Yard (ETY)...
According to a new paper by Food First, in 2012 over 97 percent of federal farm payments went to white farmers, most of which came through crop insurance or commodity support payments designed to bolster corporate agriculture. The author discusses how the growing influence of agribusiness in U.S. Farm Bill policy exacerbates racial, gender, and economic discrimination and furthers land dispossession for black farmers. He recommends refocusing the Farm Bill on programs that benefit women, people of color, and immigrant food system workers, not only as a means to create a more democratic food system, but also to build a more equitable society:
Compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, this new toolkit provides resources for communities to capture the impact of local food system investments. The toolkit describes how to develop the necessary infrastructure to collect data, and details various economic analysis methodologies. Topics covered include assembling a research team, defining the parameters of a local food system, identifying economic indicators to measure, developing processes for accessing datasets, and communicating findings.
Based in Madison, Reap Food Group is a nonprofit focused on building and sustaining a local food system across Southern Wisconsin that supports small family farms and locally-owned businesses, promotes sustainable agriculture practices, and provides community-wide access to fresh, healthy food. Read more about Reap Food Group...
As the first veteran-led community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in the Madison area, Peacefully Organic Produce aims to provide a peaceful place for veterans to return home, learn about organic agriculture, and build a stronger community of support. The farm specializes in high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, and pasture-raised poultry. Committed to connecting with the community, the farm also hosts film-screenings of agricultural documentaries, field trips for local schools, taste tests, and an annual bluegrass concert, from which proceeds are used to purchase CSA share Read more about Peacefully Organic Produce...
Based in Madison, FairShare CSA Coalition aims to support and connect Community Supported Agriculture farmers and consumers. Its network currently includes 50 farms in Madison, Milwaukee, Dubuque, the Twin Cities, and surrounding areas. To help ensure all community members can access fresh, nutritious food, FairShare initiated its Partner Shares Program, which covers 50 percent of the cost of CSA vegetable shares for limited-income families. The nonprofit also sponsors a range of activities and events designed to build community, share food, and highlight local, seasonal produce. Read more about FairShare CSA Coalition...