The Good Food Economy Digest is an online publication in collaboration with the Wallace Center at Winrock International, home of the National Good Food Network. Articles cover the emerging practice of local and regional food as economic development. The purpose is to inform and increase engagement from media outlets, local and regional governments, economic development agencies, public health groups, and other stakeholders.
Direct enrollment in the GFED mailing list is at more than 1,000 subscribers, with an average “open” rate of 31.2% — about 125% of the industry benchmarks for both Agriculture/Food Services and Non-Profit Organization mailings. In addition to the Wallace Center audience of 9,000, GFED regularly reaches audiences through other outlets such as FoodTank and FamilyFarmed. Other users have included Christian Science Monitor, AlterNet, Daily Yonder, Broken Sidewalk, The Rural Blog, Resilience.org, Morning Ag, The Daily Meal, and the Project for Public Spaces.
Some towns are developing whole business districts around all things local food and sustainable agriculture, from urban farming and local-flavor eateries to regional food distributors and cottage food businesses.
Food innovation districts co-locate, connect, and support entrepreneurs and organizations building new businesses and markets around local food and related healthy and natural products and services.
Food Innovation Districts: An Economic Gardening Tool provides planning tools, economic development guidance, and examples from the field. The National Association of Development Organizations gave it a 2013 Innovation Award.
Regional Food Solutions LLC developed the concept and guidebook with Michigan State University and the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments with support from USDA Rural Development.
Northwest Michigan is a powerful example of how a region can come together and build a vibrant, inclusive regional food system. Patty Cantrell and team at the Groundwork Center (then Michigan Land Use Institute) seeded and cultivated this community economic development strategy.
This local food and farm marketing endeavor is now a stand-alone social enterprise covering the northern half of Michigan and serving cities and regions beyond as well.
Partners from across the region move initiatives and policy together through this network. The breadth and depth of practical and creative work happening in this self-organizing collaborative is incredible. Read more in its six-year Report to the Community.
This analysis of local food’s employment potential helped put the regional food sector on Michigan’s economic development map.
In 2001, Patty Cantrell kicked off the regional food economy conversation with this piece showing the sector’s momentum and potential.
OTHER PROJECT EXAMPLES
Regional food hubs are integral partners for those larger scale buyers trying genuinely to satisfy increasing demand for local food and all the community health and wealth benefits wrapped up in what “local” means.
This journalism series covers regional food market opportunities for larger volume producers. Articles published, for example, in Michigan Farm News, Fruit Growers News, and Vegetable Growers News
Patty Cantrell co-chaired the Michigan Good Food Charter’s Food System Infrastructure Working Group. Its recommendations are part of this statewide policy platform housed at the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University.
Case studies and other research about financing America’s new generation of smaller, diversified farms, including lender training materials used in the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative. This work with The Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, The Carrot Project, and community financing practitioners.
A resource for economic developers, farm lenders and more to navigate the world of regional food and farm businesses and markets. Developed with the Wallace Center National Good Food Network and Farm Credit Council.