Local food systems and the network connections, economic structure and humanity of food production have declined precipitously since the global food system became the dominant food system in the United States. Communities, entrepreneurs and economic development entities in Indiana are working to rebuild their local food systems to realize the economic, social and community benefits that ensue. The Purdue Extension Rebuilding Your Local Food System program is a collaborative process between Extension and community leaders that engages multiple stakeholders in the learning, evaluation and initiation of local food system redevelopment. It supports ongoing initiatives while developing community leadership that will foster further food system development.
The Rebuilding Your Local Food System is a learning and action planning program using community food system assets to address inadequacies in the food system. All community members are welcome to participate in the process, but a Core Group of individuals will work to address and prioritize these issues in an asset-based examination of opportunities. Participants in the program will:
- Increase their knowledge of the community food system, the key participants and the breadth of stakeholders involved
- Understand how to support the diversification of the local food production system and create robust market channels for local food distribution
- Appreciate the policies that impact the local food system
- Address the changes necessary to realize infrastructure improvements or consumer behavior to redevelop the local food system.
How it works
The program begins with the establishment of a Core Group and starts with a Local Food Workshop where participants learn about local food systems. The Core Group and Purdue Extension broaden the reach of the program with a public community event, a Local Food Summit. Throughout this process, the Core Group and community members will begin to create a list of food system assets for their community that will assist in the project implementation process. Opportunities in the local food system will also be mapped and prioritized by the group to clarify where the group should move their efforts. This is an internal look at the community voices and issues surrounding food and prioritizes issues of greatest need.
The third phase of the project focuses on planning an initiative that will help to rebuild the local food system for the community. Purdue Extension will conclude the program by coordinating the information and resource development for the community food system project.
Past participants in the Rebuilding program have created a local food policy council, initiated a farmer training program, completed a strategic planning process for their food and farming organization and applied for non-profit status.
See this Purdue Extension Story from Kathy Cooley in Batesville, Indiana. Check in with the Elkhart County Foodshed to see the Elkhart Regional Local Farm and Food Economy Report.
Visit the facebook page for From Fencerows to Foodsheds, a feature-length documentary produced and directed by Janet Katz in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This amazing film chronicles the work that was done on the Rebuilding project by the communities in Elkhart County and Batesville, Indiana.
How do I start this program in my community?
Connect with your Purdue Extension office in your County and ask about the Rebuilding program!