Crossroads Resource Center

Tools for Community Self Determination

Resources for Community Economic Development initiatives

Food planning and local economies

The American Planning Association published a Food Planning Guide

The National Association of Counties published "Counties and Local Food Systems: Ensuring Healthy Foods, Nurturing Healthy Children," highlighting four approaches that county governments, the private sector and community leaders can use to strengthen their local food systems: food policy councils, farm to school programs, infrastructure for local producers, and agriculture conservation easement programs.

The Aldo Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture posted a 2006 guidebook for those who would like to build a regional food system. See Developing a Vibrant and Sustainable Regional Food System". You have to scroll down this page to find a specific link to the study.

On July 17, 2008, the Local Food Economy Work Group in Louisville unveiled its new report, "Building Louisville's Local Food Economy: Strategies for increasing Kentucky farm income through expanded food sales in Louisville," written by Ted Spitzer of Market Ventures, Inc., and Karen Karp of Karp Resources.

The City of Oakland adopted a Food Policy Council resolution on July 11, 2006, following a thorough Food Systems Assessment compiled by by two graduate students.

Sustainable Seattle used an economic multiplier analysis to show why building local foods businesses is important. See Why Local Linkages Matter: Findings from the Local Food Economy Study published in 2008.

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project published a 2007 review of their local food system and opportunities for economic development in "Growing Local: Expanding the Western North Carolina Farm and Food Economy."

Roots of Change Fund sponsored a bold initiative in 2004 to frame a long-term vision for sustainable agriculture in California, the Vivid Picture Project.

Crossroads Resource Center published an early regional farm and food system economic analysis for 7 counties in Southeast Minnesota that documented surprisingly deep losses of $800 million per year from a prime farm region. See Finding Food in Farm Country, published in 2001 and adapted to 39 regions in 19 states Local economic studies

The Hartford Food System (CT) has sponsored food initiatives since 1978. See Hartford Food System

Community economic development

Community development officers of the Nashville branch of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank found that many communities, particularly small rural, communities, are abandoning business recruitment, retention and expansion approaches to economic development in favor of "economic gardening," an approach designed to "grow your own" jobs through entrepreneurial activity within the community. Why? Because of mounting questions about traditional strategies, including the use of incentives and the "growing body of research that suggests small and local businesses are important drivers of economic growth in communities."

Rep. Collin Peterson's (D-MN), chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, has sponsored an annual agriculture forum in his Western Minnesota Congressional District for each of the past two years (2007 & 2008). He calls this forum "The Home Grown Economy." Both years, the case for local foods as economic development has been well-received. Increasingly, economic development officials are attending, and turning to local foods as an economic development engine.

Land Stewardship Project, Dakota Rural Action, The Floyd Boulevard Local Foods Market in Sioux City, the University of Minnesota's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, and Crossroads Resource Center sponsored a July, 2008, tour of Western Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota to focus attention on local foods as economic development, with presentations to 130 people in Willmar, Clinton, Clear Lake, SD, and Montevideo. See Land Stewardship Project for details.

Mark Winne, convenor of CFSC's food policy council committee, held a national teleconference to discuss food system assessments on April 9, 2008, which 62 people attended. Anne Palmer, CFSC board member and staff at the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and an inner-city Baltimore resident, Joyce Smith, of Operation Retail Southwest, presented surveys they have used successfully in building a case for local foods. Ken Meter offered perspectives on how food system assessments could best be done.

Measuring impacts

Two scholars from University of Hawai'i calculated that replacing imported foods with local production would have strong economic impacts on the islands. The state is deeply dependent on imported food ~ 85-90% of the $6.1 billion of food eaten on the islands each year is imported. Their 2008 study, "Economic Impacts of Increasing Hawai'is Food Self-Sufficiency," by PingSun Leung and Matthew Loke, calculates the economic multipliers that would result if imported foods were replaced with local production. The authors found that the multiplier on Hawai'i is larger than in many parts of the mainland. Doubling the current share of total consumption from local production of several major foods consumed in the Islands would add $238 million in sales, $64 million in earnings, and $8.7 million of state tax collections, as well as 3,165 jobs.

While Leung and Loke say it is improbable that the state would produce all of its own food, they calculate that replacing just 10% of the current food imports by local consumers would generate $188 million in sales, $47 million earnings, $6 million of new state taxes, and 2,300 jobs.

Download the Hawai'i study here

CFSC/CED committee member Kamyar Enshayan, who launched a Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign in Northern Iowa ten years ago, has now become the Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at University of Northern Iowa. He reports that over the past decade, local food sales have risen from $100,000 to $2.2 million in his eight-county region near Cedar Falls, Iowa. He is in final stages of producing new fact sheets outling the economic impact of his work, fueled with data compiled by Iowa State University economist David Swenson. Swenson's data shows that if residents of this region at 5 locally-produced fresh fruits and vegetables each day for only three months of the year, it would create 475 new jobs and generate $6.3 million in new labor income. Data such as these seem very persuasive with local officials. When these fact sheets become available, we will post links. Kamyar can be reached at kamyar.enshayan (at)

A 2006 study by the Michigan Land Use Institute and the C.S. Mott group at Michigan State University "Eat Fresh and Grow Jobs, Michigan" found that Michigan farms could generate up to 1,889 new jobs by selling more fresh produce. Authors are Patty Cantrell, David Conner, Gereoge Erickcek, and Michael Hamm.

Focus on ethnic and cultural communities

The National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Community Food Security Coalition produced an illustrated publication in Spanish showing how Latino farmers might go about selling their produce to local institutions such as hospitals, colleges, schools, universities, retirement homes and day care centers. Included is a state-by-state listing of organizations that help Latino farmers sell their products to institutions.

Native Harvest, a project of the
White Earth Land Recovery Project is performing a Food Sovereignty study (still in process).

Inner-city retail and food deserts

Planning for Healthy Places, a program of Oakland's Public Health Law & Policy Center, published a 2008 guide for funding sources, "Guide to Funding Healthy Food Retail Outlets"

A 2007 study, "Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Detroit,"written by Mari Gallagher, was published by LaSalle Bank in Chicago and Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting.

Food banks

Mark Winne, pioneer of the Hartford Food System and CFSC staff member convening its food policy committee, spoke in early 2008 to the Food Bank Annual Meeting in Seattle. In this address, he addresses the question, "what can a single food bank do now, in concrete terms, to better serve its constituents as well as change the culture of the anti-hunger movement?" To read the full address,

Extending the growing season

A "Winter CSA" has been formed by Garden Goddess in Milan, Minnesota. The farm ships fresh greens to neighbors within 30 miles only from November to April. They also offer workshops on how to build your own energy-efficient greenhouse. Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel, owners, estimate it costs $50 per year to heat their greenhouse.

Let us know about other resources we should be listing!

Contact Ken Meter: kmeter (at)


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