Local and regional food systems have grown in popularity over the past decade as shown by the increasing supply of and demand for local foods. The number of farmers markets has nearly tripled over the last 15 years, and thousands of farm-to-school programs have been initiated across the United States. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), local foods have often topped consumer and food professional surveys of food trends.
Funded by the Farm Bill and operated through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, AgMRC is a national information resource for value-added agriculture, including areas related to commodities and products, business development, food industry, and renewable energy.
In 2022, to highlight local food systems efforts, AgMRC and ISU Extension and Outreach collaborated with businesses, organizations, farmers, and food producers to create four case-study videos that showcase different businesses across the food systems and include the following topics:
- Incubator Farms or Beginning Farm Programs: Lutheran Services of Iowa, Global Greens; Des Moines, Iowa
- Processing Facilities: Sno Pac Foods; Caledonia, Minnesota
- Food Hubs: The Common Market; Texas
- Food Recovery: MEANS Database
In the videos, owners, staff, and clients share about their challenges, successes, and recommendations for individuals or communities interested in implementing a similar project in their region. Many of the interviewees also shared the value of building relationships with partners and connecting with members of the community. ISU Extension and Outreach and AgMRC continue to partner with organizations nationwide to create additional videos highlighting the breadth of food systems and importance of local/regional food.
These videos not only promote the individual businesses and organizations, but also increase knowledge of local and regional food projects, programs, and their impacts on community food systems. The final videos are available to the public on the AgMRC website (https://www.agmrc.org/food/local-regional-foods), along with research-based information regarding commodity crops, business and benchmarking tools, and market research. To learn more, contact Courtney Long, food systems program manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.