Local Food Systems

Economic and Community Development Outcomes of Healthy Food Retail

Erin Hagan and Victor Rubin

A new report from PolicyLink examines the economic development benefits of improving healthy food access. Authors Erin Hagan and Victor Rubin argue that new grocery stores, corner stores, farmer’s markets, and other food retailers generate significant economic activity in all communities, and specifically in low-income communities. The report encourages researchers to consider the economic benefits (not just the health benefits) of innovations in food retail, distribution and production, such as financing incentives, urban agriculture, food hubs, and federal assistance programs. The report concludes by offering a series of recommendations to help understand and promote the economic benefits of improved access to healthy food. 

Done Right, Eliminating Food Deserts Result in Community Oases

Building community wealth every step of the way
Pogue’s Run Grocer Mural, an initiative of the Indy Food Co-op. © Indy Food Co-op
Building healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities requires more than “bottom up” solutions. The importance of community ownership to ensure that projects that start at the bottom result in lasting community wealth for the people involved is often missing from the discussion. The local foods movement provides examples that illustrate the importance of this ownership principle in practice.

Ellen Macht on the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative

CEO chats about developing the first cooperative business, Atlanta Lettuce Works

Last week, The Democracy Collaborative's Stephanie Geller had the opportunity to chat with Ellen Macht, President and CEO of the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, about an exciting new project launched by The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to bring quality jobs, assets, and sustainable economic growth to Atlanta’s most marginalized neighborhoods. 

Farm To People

Farm To People is an online farm stand for buying food directly from small, sustainable farmers and craft producers around the United States with the goal of strengthening the link between food, health, environment, and people. This website provides a diversity of avenues for small farmers to reach consumers and offers a directory based on specialty so that eaters can simplify their search for environmentally and socially sustainable food.  

Read more about Farm To People...

Jacksonville Farmers Market

Jacksonville Farmers Market is Florida’s oldest farmers market, founded in 1938. It features over 200 farmers and vendors at a market that is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. The market makes available the freshest produce from North Florida or South Georgia, but also features unique produce from across the country and imported from overseas.

Friends of Northeast Florida Community Gardens

Friends of Northeast Florida Community Gardens (FNFCG) was founded in March 2011 in response to a need for an organized association of the many community gardens in the Northeast area. Through this organization, the 84 associated community gardens are able to collectively share resources, apply for funding opportunities, and increase their leverage with the local government in influencing the region’s food system.

The Argyle Area Community Garden

The Argyle Area Community Garden was founded in May 2009 as a member-operated organic vegetable garden to support a healthier and better-educated community. Though the garden is not yet complete, it plans to educate the local youth through field trips and hands-on experience, as well as volunteer programs for high school students.

Growing Urban Agriculture: Equitable Strategies and Policies for Improving Access to Healthy Foods and Revitalizing Communities

Allison Hagey, Solana Rice and Rebecca Flournoy

PolicyLink examines how cities across the United States are adopting urban agriculture as a means to address equity issues in our food system and communities. This report details the benefits of urban agriculture, looks at innovative strategies to overcome common challenges, and offers policy recommendations to ensure equity in the growing movement. It lays out how urban agriculture can improve access to healthier food through innovative distribution, processing, and marketing efforts; improve economic health by creating jobs, attracting new business, and creating savings for families; and improve community health by using vacant or underused urban spaces to create safe, clean outdoor spaces for people to gather.

Southside Community Land Trust

Since 1981, the Southside Community Land Trust has provided land, education, resources, and support for community members to provide healthy food for themselves.  Partnering with the City of Providence, the Rhode Island Foundation, and Brown University Center for Environmental Studies, among many others, the trust has transformed five acres of urban land into productive food growing space, and preserved 50-acres of suburban farmland.  More than 600 families citywide have transformed vacant lots and under used land into more than 30 community gardens.  Through a variety of education programs, the group engages over 1,000 community youth members in hands-on gardening activities each year.

Good Food and Good Jobs For All

Yvonne Yen Liu

Released in July 2012 by the Applied Research Center, this report highlights the struggle for good food and good jobs as a key facet of the movement for racial and economic justice.  More than 110 million people in the U.S. suffer from “dangerously” unhealthy diets – nearly two-thirds of who are African American and Latino. Additionally, 40 million Americans lack food security as a result of poverty, with African American and Latinos representing more than half.  To improve access to productive jobs and healthy food, the author advocates that community-labor alliances must support two main sectors: small and medium sized food manufactures that produce ethnic cuisines without violating labor laws and state and local governments that purchase locally produced food.

Alemany Farm

Located in southeast San Francisco, Alehmany Farm is a three and a half acre organic farm managed by a group of volunteers promoting ecological-economic development and fostering green job skills for the community.  The farm's main mission is to educate local residents on methods to become their own food producers and provide access to organic, healthy locally grown food.  In 2014, the farm produced over 8 tons of organic fruits and vegetables — all distributed for free to farm volunteers, farm neighbors, community residents and local nonprofits. Read more about Alemany Farm...

W. K. Kellogg Foundation: Food & Community Program

Started in 2000, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food & Community Program has, to date, funded more than 75 food projects - efforts to create community-based food systems that support local, healthy, and sustainably grown food. Working to transform the nation's food system, the Program provides assistance to both rural and urban food networks as it strives to increase accessibility to Good Food - food that is nutritional, sustainable, fair and affordable. Read more about W. K. Kellogg Foundation: Food & Community Program...

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA) and operated under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program provides grants and outreach to promote sustainable innovation in American agriculture. Since 1988, SARE has provided grants for more than 2500 projects, including support for urban agricultural farms, such as $6,000 to the Resource Center City Farm in Chicago, IL, $6000 to New Roots Urban Farm in St. Read more about Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)...