Local government, business groups, and economic developers have begun to consider the potential value that agricultural resources can bring to a community. A healthy local food economy — one where multiple and various sizes of entrepreneurial agricultural businesses profitably produce and trade production resources and consumer products within a community — can maintain rural character and working lands, create jobs for rural residents, and spark a culture of business entrepreneurship for activities as various as value-added agri-foods to agritourism. Community members are often eager to work together to support farmers markets and other local businesses, as well as organize and volunteer at farm tours, community and school gardens, and agricultural heritage events, and communities are beginning to see the economic impact of a strong local food economy.
- Local Government, Planning, & Agriculture Policy
- Local & Regional Food Councils
- Urban Agriculture Policy
North Carolina Resources
- A Government Guide on Building Local Food Economies. Edmonds, Emily and Rebecca Dunning. N.C. Cooperative Extension & NC Growing Together, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, 2016.
- Agricultural Economic Development Infographics for all NC Counties and Councils of Government. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Center for Environmental Farming Systems, SARE, and USDA, 2016.
- Local Food Economies Initiative: Research, Case Studies, and Other Tools. Center for Environmental Farming Systems, 2016.
- Growing a Healthy Economy with Local Food – 6 Steps to Success Toolkit
Guide developed by N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s CultivateNC program. November 2014.
- From Farm to Fork: A Guide to Building North Carolina’s Sustainable Local Food Economy. Center for Environmental Farming Systems, 2010.
- Growing a Local Food Economy: A Guide to Getting Started
Guidance on “the core components of developing a strong local food economy.” Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
- Growing Local Research Project
This study provides a detailed look at the food and farming economy of Western North Carolina and explores the potential to expand local markets for local farm products. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, 2007.
- Farm Promotion & Support – Ideas and Tools for Economic Development and Tourism Development Authorities
Resource on farming, tourism, and economic development. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, 2009.
- UNC-School of Government webinars and resources
- Cultivate NC™
Cultivate NC houses a gallery of information on the Community and Economic Development Programs of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and its partners.
- Stronger Economies Together (SET)
A nationwide program to promote economic collaboration between urban and rural counties to improve and enhance regional economies. NC Thrive staff have facilitated the SET planning process in two regions in NC.
- Sandhills Region SET Initiative
“The Green Fields Initiative is a three-pronged plan to support the economic viability of agriculture for the benefit of the Sandhills region.”
- Sandhills Region SET Initiative
“Thriving local economies form decisions that ensure the well-being of future generations. They account for hidden costs in decision-making and work to build systems that regenerate output (wastes) into input (resources). Thriving local economies may utilize decentralized, participatory, and democratic processes designed to be informed by diverse community members and based upon a community’s assets.” (Whole Measures for Community Food Systems)
- USDA-AMS resource. The Economics of Local Foods: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices.| Toolkit developed to “guide and enhance the capacity of local organizations to make more deliberate and credible measurements of local and small-scale economic activity and other ancillary benefits.”
- Economic Impacts of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group
Since 2012, Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group has been publishing an annual report on statewide economic impacts of the local foods industry in Iowa. This group has also developed a data collection guide to share their process with others interested in measuring statewide local foods economic impacts.
- Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains.
King, Robert P., Michael S. Hand, Gigi DiGiacomo, Kate Clancy, Miguel I. Gómez, Shermain D. Hardesty, Larry Lev, and Edward W. McLaughlin. 2010. Economic Research Service Economic Research Report (ERR-99), 81 pp.
- Recommended Professional Resources: Many leading local government and small business development organizations have conducted their own research into the impacts and strategies of local food system development.
Extension and Outreach Program Manager, NC Growing Together
Center for Environmental Farming Systems
NC State University