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Case studies

Good Growing in Oklahoma, Year Round
A sweet, juicy watermelon is the perfect snack to dig into on a hot summer day. Even more perfect is bringing home a fresh one from a local farmers market or farm stand. What if you could have that same sweet experience when school starts, and have it delivered fresh from the farm to your school cafeteria? Read more...


In San Diego, a Project that Starts with Culture Leads to Economic Opportunity
In 1975, the International Rescue Committee opened an office in San Diego focused on refugee resettlement. Three decades later, the group launched a new program to help its clients, many of whom came from agricultural areas or backgrounds, establish "new roots" in their adoptive home country. Read more...


On an Island in San Francisco Bay, Local Food Creates Jobs
Around the country, communities are talking about how strong regional food systems can create jobs. At the Treasure Island Job Corps Center, committed staff and excited students are proving these communities right. Read more...


Calling Local Meat Processors: USDA is Here to Help
What do you get when you combine a reference librarian, a garage, and the Small Plant Help Desk of USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service? You get Link Lab Artisan Meats, a successful small business in Seattle making sausage from local, sustainably-produced meat. Read more...


In Remote Sections of Rural Nevada, Healthy Food Grows Locally
The Food Bank of Northern Nevada (FBNN) and one of its partner agencies, Plumas Rural Services, are combining infrastructure development, education, and local food production to increase healthy food access in the rural Sierra Nevada region. Read more...


Local Food Drives Small Business Growth in Southwest Wisconsin
When the NCR manufacturing plant in Viroqua, a small town of 4,400 people in rural Wisconsin, shut its doors in 2009 after more than 40 years in business, the community was stunned. The region had just experienced two national disaster declarations for excessive flooding in what was already one of the lowest-income areas of Wisconsin. Read more...


A New Business Model Proves Lucrative for Grass-Based Dairies
In New York, consumer interest is driving demand for local food products, even while the number of farms is shrinking. When Becca Jablonski began a project to support dairy farmers in New York, the price of milk was $11.83 per hundredweight, well below the cost of production. Read more...


The Lucrative Sweet Potato Takes Root
Tobacco farmers in eastern Kentucky have seen markets shrink in recent years - but they've also found a profitable transition in the form of sweet potatoes. With relatively low input and capital costs and a short learning curve, they are able to earn gross returns of up to $7,000 per acre, mostly through local sales. Read more...


Building a regional food system in Wyoming, a "value-added desert"
Mary Randolph, Kim Porter and Ted Craig are putting the pieces together to build a strong local food system in Wyoming. They represent the Wyoming Rural Development Council, the Wyoming Business Council's Agribusiness Division, and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture respectively. Read more...


The Island of Pohnpei Rediscovers its Agroforestry Roots
Since the 1970s, the people of Pohnpei, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia, have seen their diets shift from traditional local foods such as taro and bananas to imported foods, including refined grains, sugar, and fatty meats. Read more...


In Rural Oregon and Washington, Healthy, Local Food Goes on the Road
Each weekend in the summer, staff of the Gorge Grown Food Network get behind the wheel of a box truck named George, which is full to the brim with produce grown by farmers from the Columbia River Gorge region of Oregon and Washington. The truck stops in rural communities that have difficulty accessing fresh, healthy foods. Some of the communities served lack full-service grocery stores. Read more...


In Iowa, Local Food Systems Mean Economic Development
The state of Iowa is already an agricultural powerhouse, but new local and regional food efforts are making it even more so. These efforts are also increasing Iowans' access to fresh, healthy, locally-grown food. Read more...


Idaho's Bounty Food Co-op, Inc.
Idaho's Bounty Food Co-op, Inc. is creating a year-round local foods market between southern Idaho producers and consumers. But their customers' desire for locally produced goods exceeded the co-op's current transportation and cold-storage capacity. Read more...


La Montañita: USDA's Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program
La Montañita, a retail cooperative in New Mexico, established a regional food hub in 2007 to expand the amount of local food available to the co-op's four stores and to assist regional producers in accessing other wholesale market channels for their products. Read more...


Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan Transforming from Traditional Market to Food Hub
A public market for over a hundred years, Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan is transforming from a traditional market to a food hub - and more. The market consists of four individual markets: retail (for consumers), wholesale (for grocery stores, distributors and restaurants), flowers, and special events. Read more...


Local Meat Processing on the Move
When the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Lowell, Massachusetts wanted to help beginning farmers earn a steady, reliable source of income and improve the quality of their soil, chickens were the logical choice. Read more...


In Southern Appalachia, Farm to School Training Builds Connections, Economics and Health.
With the great excitement over farm to institution efforts comes questions about how to make these efforts successful and a desire to share best practices far and wide. In 2009, North Carolina's Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) secured funding from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program for a two-year regional project to build the capacity of agricultural professionals, communities and Cooperative Extension agents engaged in farm to school activities. Read more...


The New England Governers' Association sees Regional Farm to Institution Opportunities
Interest in local agricultural products is strong in the six New England states, but regional pressure for commercial and residential development can place farmland at risk. The New England Governors' Association sees regional farm-to-institution opportunities as a critical component of efforts to protect farmland. Read more...


Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
Since 2005, northeastern Ohio has lost 20% of its farms and 29% of its farmland. High rates of unemployment continue to plague the area, falling particularly hard on minorities and people with disabilities. Read more...


Farmers' Market Promotion Program
In Forest Grove, Oregon, a rural community west of Portland with a 27 percent poverty rate, Adelante Mujeres is working with the Hispanic population to increase economic and social equity and boost healthy food access. Read more...


Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program
Many projects funded through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program train new producers to take advantage of local and regional marketing opportunities. For example, in Butte County, California, the Northern California Regional Land Trust received a grant in 2010 to help beginning farmers and ranchers increase sales in local and regional markets. Read more...


Environmental Quality Incentives Program
In New Hampshire, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is helping beginning farmer Meghan Bickford of Diamond B Farm in New Durham implement a number of sustainable practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Read more...