In many Indiana communities there is a rapidly growing interest in local foods. Some of the factors driving this interest include (1) increased numbers of producers growing specialty crops, (2) an increased demand from consumers for local food products, (3) increased opportunities for the procurement of local foods from institutions such as school corporations, universities, and hospitals, and (4) a surge of entrepreneurs engaging in new food-related ventures.
When local foods initiatives get underway, they often stall out or are less effective than they could be. This can be attributed to a variety of reasons that usually relate to one or both of the following root causes: (1) inadequate early involvement from the right regional stakeholders or (2) jumping to a solution (i.e., distribution center, shared-use kitchen, etc.) before having fully developed a holistic, asset-based, information-driven, implementable action plan.
Purdue Extension, in partnership with the Purdue Center for Regional Development and with funding support from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, has developed Indiana Flavor to help local and regional communities build community food networks. Several communities in Indiana are now using Indiana Flavor tools and resources, including those below, to launch their projects.
The presentation materials entitled, Indiana Flavor: Creating Community-Based Food Networks, provides resources for those interested in facilitating the development of local foods networks in their own community. The materials can help in: (1) Making the case local/regional food systems, (2) Helping others understand how the local food economy works, (3) Understanding how to effectively link and leverage assets to create a local/regional food network, (4) Using open innovation to identify food network projects, and (5) Using strategic doing to quickly implement projects. The presentation materials are available here.
Understanding the Local Food Economy
The concept of a "local" food economy may not be immediately understood by everyone. This simple graphic, adapted from the work of Ed Morrison and David Morganthaler, describes the three different types of money that flows into, out of, and within a community. This graphic is available here.
This is a useful tool to help identify the various interests that need to be represented in a community-based local foods project. This tool is available here.
Sample Survey Questions
Here are survey questions for several audiences. Even informal, non-scientific surveys can be helpful in gathering information and prioritizing local foods-related projects. Survey questions are available for five groups: (1) farmers and growers, (2) restaurants, (3) retailers, (4) institutions, and (5) consumers. Survey questions are available here.
Examples of Community-Based Food Network Projects
This is an inventory of seven different best practices from both Indiana and elsewhere in the U.S. These examples are helpful in getting local groups to see the possibilities of what can be done in their own communities. These examples can be found here.
Effectiveness vs. Complexity Matrix
This is a tool to help groups determine both how effective and complex a proposed local foods project might be. Eight different types of projects are plotted on the matrix including (1) policy mandates, (2) joint marketing initiatives, (3) the creation of food directories, (4) food festivals, (5) farmers' markets, (6) educational projects, (7) branding initiatives, and (8) new infrastructure. This tool is adapted from the Local Foodcheck Handbook, Action for Market Towns, Suffolk, England. The matrix is available here.
If you have questions about these materials or would like to talk with someone about how we can help you develop local food networks in your community, please call us by phone (765-494-7273) or email.