Local Food Systems

Rochester Roots

Rochester Roots aims to develop community self-reliance by helping low-income people obtain nutritious, locally grown food and then develop and market urban produce and products.  To do so, it works with schools and community partners to transform underutilized schoolyards into urban gardens that rely on sustainable agriculture techniques and to develop and market garden-based products that are sold to the public.  The group currently works with 3 elementary schools in low-income areas of the city, where it grows over 3 tons of produce a year. Read more about Rochester Roots...

Peacework Organic CSA

Founded in 1989, making it the oldest CSA in the Rochester area, Peacework Organic CSA grows organic produce on its 20-acre farm, which it leases from the Genesee Land Trust, thus protecting the land as open space in perpetuity.  Members join for its 26-week season and pick up their share once a week.  To ensure an authentic connection to the community and affordable membership costs, the CSA requires its members to work at its farm and distribution warehouse.  The CSA also donates about 5 percent of its harvest to a local food pantry. Read more about Peacework Organic CSA...


Headquartered in Rochester, Foodlink aims to end hunger in Rochester and surrounding counties.  To do so, Foodlink distributes food to its network of 500 nonprofits, serves meals through a commercial kitchen, and offers more than 30 food-related programs. In 2012, Foodlink launched a value-added processing (VAP) program to extend the shelf life of local agricultural products and train unemployed residents in preparing, processing, packaging, and marketing raw local products.  In 2014, the nonprofit distributed over 18 million pounds of food, offered more than 200 nutrition education courses, and earned 63 percent of its $32.8 million budget.

Exploring Economic and Health Impacts of Local Food Procurement

Jess Lynch et al.

Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center and the Illinois Public Health Institute contribute to the growing body of research on the health and economic impacts of local food procurement by institutional purchasers. The authors examine how communities in southern Arizona, Kentucky, southwest Wisconsin, San Diego County, and Burlington, Vermont foster collaboration and structure local procurement activities and identify the policies, systems, processes, and procedures that maximize health and economic benefits. The study outlines several key principles for expanding and enhancing support of local food procurement and outlines practical strategies for building networks, educating stakeholders, and marketing local food programs. 

Urban Patch

Founded in 2011, Urban Patch is an Indianapolis-based, family-owned enterprise with a mission of making the American inner city better.  It relies on a holistic model of social, environmental and economic community development and a “past forward” approach, meaning that it aims to build on the legacy of a community’s past in building strong and resilient neighborhoods today and into the future.  Current projects include The Stone Soup Kitchen, which is creating a series of classes and to teach community members “garden and seasonal nutrition” and how to can and preserve produce, and the Leslie Allen Urban Apiary, which will produce honey, other bee products and lavender while providing open community space.

Indy Urban Acres Farm

Indy Urban Acres is an 8-acre organic farm located on an undeveloped, urban property owned by Indy Parks, the municipal entity responsible for operating and maintaining the city’s parks and recreation facilities.  The farm aims to provide low-income city residents with healthy fruits and vegetables, and to serve as an educational resource for user groups, community organizations and youth programming.  To meet these goals, Indy Urban Acres donates 100 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables harvested to local food pantries, and offers numerous tours, workshops and other educational programs that engage several thousands of community residents each year.

Growing Places Indy

Founded in 2009, Growing Places Indy is a nonprofit organization focused on empowering individuals and communities to “Grow well, Eat well, Live well and Be well.”  To do so, it cultivates “networks of connection” by engaging individuals in urban agriculture, relationships with local farmers and local food, experiential learning, and practices for living well such as yoga, meditation, and urban bicycling.  Its programs are run out of its 7 urban micro-farms located throughout the city, where Growing Places grows 60 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs each year.  Growing Places donates a portion of its harvests to other community-based organizations.

Green B.E.A.N. Indiana

Based in Indianapolis, Green B.E.A.N. is a food company committed to making healthy and sustainably grown local food affordable, accessible, and convenient to Midwest communities.  Its name, Green B.E.A.N., was chosen to reflect its core initiatives:  Biodynamic, Education, Agriculture, and Nutrition.  Green B.E.A.N. encompasses Green B.E.A.N. Delivery, an online service through which members can order fresh produce and groceries from local farmers and artisans, and Tiny Footprint Distribution, a low carbon footprint company that distributes locally made food products to retail stores.  Committed to low-income areas, Green B.E.A.N. has partnered with Indiana University Health to deliver fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables year-round to neighborhoods of need throughout Marion County, Indiana.  The company also runs a “constant can food drive,” which takes any food members leave in their delivery bins to local food banks, and has itself donated over 100,000 pounds of fresh food to food banks over the past three years.

Economic Analysis Of Detroit’s Food System

Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development, LLC

The food economy in Detroit is already the city’s third largest economic sector, and is poised to be the next largest growth sector for the city, note Econsult Solutions, Inc. and Urbane Development in a report written on behalf of The Detroit Food and Fitness Collaborative. In their report, the authors outline several strategies to foster equitable growth, including connecting local, small-scale food producers and manufactures to anchor institution demand. Only by engaging Detroiters and supporting the local, small, and medium sized actors in the system, the report argues, will food sector growth be effective in creating jobs and building community wealth for Detroit residents. 

Milwaukee Food Council

Established in 2007, the Milwaukee Food Council is a coalition of community members, professionals, and government officials committed to building a food system that is healthy, ecologically sustainable, economically vibrant, culturally relevant and socially just. The Council’s work centers around its four core committees—Urban Agriculture, Economic Development, Healthy Food Access, and Metrics—that meet on a regular basis to develop intentional, positive strategies for developing such a system. Read more about Milwaukee Food Council...

Walnut Way Conservation Corp

Founded in 2000 by residents of Milwaukee’s Walnut Way neighborhood, the Walnut Way Conservation Corp is a nonprofit organization working to sustain an economically diverse community through civic engagement, environmental stewardship, and economic enterprise. Recognizing the importance of place, the nonprofit’s office is located in a former drug house slated for demolition that residents restored. Read more about Walnut Way Conservation Corp...

Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement

Marissa Mommaerts , Ken White and Ben Roberts
Post Carbon Institute

The Post Carbon Institute and Collective Conversations interviewed 18 leaders, including Democracy Collaborative Communications Coordinator John Duda, for a new report on the possibilities for a new, more equitable and democratized economy. Building off of conversations from the Community Resilience and New Economy Network, the collected interviews help to connect different social movements and present creative solutions and alternatives to our current extractive economy. Full transcripts of each interview are also available online.

Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC)

Created in January 2011 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to build a “Good Food system” for all of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council aims to reduce hunger, improve public health, increase equity, create good jobs, stimulate local economic activity, and foster environmental stewardship.  Its work focuses on bringing together leaders and experts from across sectors, geographies, and socio-economic communities to strengthen connections throughout the food system, and to facilitate and coordinate systemic change.  One of LAFPC’s key achievements was the development of a Good Food Pu Read more about Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC)...

Green City Market

Established in 1998, Green City Market is a nonprofit marketplace for local, sustainable food that educates, promotes, and connects local farmers and producers directly to chefs, restaurateurs, and the public.  Committed to educating people about the importance of sustainability, the Market also provides free educational resources and runs a range of programs focused on local issues related to sustainability.  One key initiative is its “Edibles Gardens,” which is a public space featuring 5,000 square feet of organically grown vegetables, fruits, herbs, grains, and flowers designed to show people where their food comes from.

Building the Case for Racial Equity in the Food System

Anthony Giancatarino and Simran Noor
The Center for Social Inclusion

This report from The Center for Social Inclusion examines the effects of housing, school, land, and wage policies on access to healthy food in communities of color. It offers recommendations to surmount these challenges, such as investing in cooperatively owned food enterprises and leveraging dollars from the Affordable Care Act’s community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals. The report also includes several reference guides to help community groups identify and confront the particular institutions, policies, and practices that promote structural racial inequity in their food systems. 

Greening Healthcare: How Hospitals Can Heal the Planet

Kathy Gerwig
Oxford University Press

Authored by Kaiser Permanente’s Environmental Stewardship Officer Kathy Gerwig, this new book provides a roadmap for healthcare institutions aiming to help build healthy and sustainable communities. Gerwig’s case studies of current hospital best practices identify environmentally preferable purchasing policies, investments in local food systems, and other green strategies that provide powerful examples of how healthcare institutions can meet existing community benefit requirements and reduce health disparities, thereby improving health outcomes while building wealth in low- to moderate- income communities.