About this Website
“Local food” has become a hot topic in many communities. While many are interested in exploring and developing their community food systems, many rural communities lack the resources or assets available to those working in or servicing larger cities or metropolitan areas.
In 2010 North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) funded a project to research and build a website of resources. This project involved a tri-state collaboration between the following organizations:
- Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships — University of Minnesota Extension
- North Dakota State University Extension Service
- FARRMS (North Dakota)
- Buy Fresh Buy Local South Dakota
As part of this project, we sponsored a series of workshops for citizens who were working to develop community food systems from three different rural communities (Bemidji, MN; Spearfish, SD; and Napoleon, ND). These workshops brought together farmers, business owners, economic development officials, planners, and others interested in local foods in each community. The purpose of these workshops was to identify existing activities, goals, and barriers to building local food systems.
We use the Design Thinking process for these workshops because it offers a creative way to identify needs, goals, and solutions to an issue (e.g., underdeveloped community food systems). The process of Design Thinking has gained in popularity as a method to solve complex problems using the tools and techniques used by designers (architects, graphic designers, product designers, etc.). The process utilizes a human-centered focus that relies heavily on techniques like storytelling, drawing, and prototyping to address complicated problems and find creative solutions by using portions of the brain that are not often used in traditional problem solving techniques. To learn more about the Design Thinking process used in this project see the full report: Design Thinking Workshops for a Local and Sustainable Foods Future (12.4 MB PDF). You can also see the summary for the three communities involved in the workshops by clicking on the following map.
The topic areas on this website emerged as important issues facing the communities participating in the workshops. We searched the web for tools and resources that can assist rural communities with a range of capacities to develop local and community food systems including those that:
- Have very little existing on-the-ground local food resources (see Getting Started)
- Are working to build momentum in their community food systems (see Building Capacity)
- Have well established and recognized local foods movements (see Staying Strong)
The collaboration worked with the Extension Center for Family Development at the University of Minnesota to build and maintain the website.
Have comments or a recommendation on resources? We know that this is an emerging content area and we need your help to keep this website stocked with the latest and greatest resources for communities. Contact Us or Suggest a Resource