Measuring And Building On Local Food System Vitality For Communities In The South

Grants and Contracts Details


The long-term goal of this project is to build an objective analytical framework for local food systems development. This proposal focuses on better understanding how specific elements of local food systems contribute to overall vitality, functionality, and performance from both a consumer and producer perspective. This includes understanding place-based stakeholder preferences, social relationships, infrastructures, and values related to local food activity, marketing, and production. This integrated Research and Extension project develops a novel LFS evaluation metric to provide producers, local food system development personnel, and food-related enterprises detailed information about their local food systems. Using focus groups and surveys from 16 representative communities across the South, we create separate consumer and producer ‘Local Food System Vitality (LFSV) Indices’ which flexibly 1) identify the elements of a local food system that are valued by local producers and consumers, and 2) measures the local activity/performance of each element at the community level. The LFSV Indices can be generalized and used by Extension agents, local food coordinators, or policymakers to identify market opportunities for producers in diverse locales. Collectively, the data provide needed insight into the elements and interactions contributing to LFS performance across the South, an essential community and regional benchmark for future research and extension work on this topic. Through partnerships with the newly formed Southern Local Foods (SERA-47), the Southern Risk Management Education Center, and Southern SARE, we will utilize these indices and case studies across the South to deliver Extension programs designed to assist LFS development es and producers in making resource use decisions and in developing vibrant local food economies.
Effective start/end date4/1/183/31/22


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $493,560.00


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