Local and Regional Food Systems

The educational materials listed on this page are about Local and Regional Food Systems.

Local and regional food systems are ones that produce and distribute foods on a local scale rather than a national or international one. Food goes from farmer to table in fewer steps, by means of CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture), local farmers’ markets, cooperatives, local food hubs or through commercial or institutional buyers, including schools, hospitals, grocery stores and restaurants. The goals of local food systems are improving the economic wellness of communities, increasing avenues to fresh local foods and creating viable markets for farmers and ranchers through value based supply chains and rural/urban integration. Local food systems also help sustainable communities prosper by strengthening the economic resilience of farmers and ranchers, via partnerships and social networks. Local farmers’ cooperatives provide farmers with the resources and scale of production needed to help each other tap lucrative value added food processing opportunities. Community supported agriculture, and farmers co-ops also help beginning farmers have a place to start through the support of the community.

More information on local food systems, including tips for land access, a topic of particular interest to beginning farmers, can be found in the topic brief Building Local and Regional Food Systems. This topic brief is an online collection of practical resources on business and marketing planning, distribution and aggregation, meat processing and food processing, and more. For example, find resources for people who want to build poultry processing facilities or explore small-scale meat packing. The guide Building a Sustainable Business can be of service to beginning farmers, with its approaches to starting a successful farming business in a local food system and writing business plans and marketing plans.

Benefits to Farmers Who Donate Fresh Produce to Food Banks

RALEIGH, North Carolina — The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Whole Crop Harvest initiative has released a new video to encourage farmers to donate produce to food banks. Donations to food banks provide alternatives for farmers when they are unable to sell all of their fresh produce, says Rebecca Dunning, a North Carolina State […]

Check Out These Resources to Calculate Food Waste on the Farm

RALEIGH, North Carolina – For farmers concerned about food waste on the farm, North Carolina State University researchers are developing tools and other educational resources that would help farmers calculate on-farm produce losses and then find ways to bring those products to market. In a newly funded Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Grant (LS17-280), […]

Despite Challenges, the Farm-to-Childcare Relationship Holds Promise

RALEIGH, North Carolina – North Carolina State University researchers are exploring the relationship between farmers and childcare facilities – a segment of the local food movement that holds a myriad of economic and social opportunities. Graduate student Jacob Rutz and local foods Extension specialist J. Dara Bloom, through a $10,636 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & […]

NCSU Researchers Develop Protocol for Measuring Food Waste on the Farm

RALEIGH, North Carolina – A North Carolina State University study quantifying food waste on the farm seems to suggest that the amount of edible and marketable vegetable crops being left in the field after primary harvest is much higher than previously thought. In a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) Graduate Student Grant, researchers […]

Some Invasive Trees are Good for Mushroom Production

TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Some non-native invasive trees in the Southeast have proven to be ideal substrates for growing edible mushrooms, according to the results of a USDA Agricultural Research Service study funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant. USDA-ARS researcher Stephen Hight, in collaboration with small farmers in southern […]

What Can Be: Regional Food Systems

This video outlines the economic redevelopment project of Working Landscapes in Warrenton, North Carolina, telling the story of two rural leaders who moved home to Warren County to contribute to their local economy by building a small processing center.