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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 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 the issues of greatest need. The third phase of the project focuses on planning the 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 nonprofit status. Moreover, a feature length documentary, “From Fencerows to Foodsheds,” documenting these communities was produced locally in Indiana.
To learn more about Purdue Extension’s Rebuilding Your Local Food System program, contact: