On Wednesday, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies came together to announce the 26 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), a federal initiative providing technical support to integrate local food systems into community economic action plans. Under this effort, a team of agricultural, transportation, environmental, public health and regional economic experts will work directly with the communities to develop specifically identified local food projects. Project proposals include repurposing vacant land for local food production, developing year-round retail markets for local food products, developing job training around local food entrepreneurship, and establishing food hubs to increase local food supply chains.
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Affairs Doug O’Brien and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl made the announcement in Wheeling, W.Va, one of the initiative’s 26 communities. Wheeling will receive LFLP support to transition its historic and underused Vineyard Hill into a productive regional hub for diversified local food production and value-added products. The officials will also visit Youngstown, OH, which will receive LFLP support to reclaim vacant property for local food production.
Click here for a complete list of communities participating in the Local Foods, Local Places Initiative.
“The Local Foods, Local Places initiative illustrates that communities are thinking about creative ways to integrate local food in their community economic development plans,” O’Brien said. “The projects developed via Local Foods, Local Places will revitalize rural Main Streets and urban downtown areas, and create market opportunities for food producers and entrepreneurs.”
“Appalachian communities recognize the role food systems can play in downtown development and revitalization,” Gohl said. “Local Foods, Local Places will provide the technical resources to take ideas and put them into a plan. ARC is pleased to provide the funding that will support implementation of the plans developed by the eight Appalachian communities.”
“As a region historically centered on agriculture, it is important to strengthen and grow the local food systems that have supported the Delta communities and this country for centuries,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “The Delta Regional Authority is proud to support this innovative program which is in an investment into community health and economic growth for workers, businesses and families in the Delta region.”
Local Foods, Local Places is a partnership among USDA, EPA, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The initiative, which draws on the Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, USDA’s Seven Strategies for Economic Development and other place-based strategies to address regional challenges, is jointly funded at $800,000. This amount, and the projects it will support, will make a significant impact in the 26 communities involved in the initiative, which were chosen from among 316 applicants.
USDA Secretary Vilsack identified strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA's commitment to rural economic development, along with production agriculture (including expanding export markets and improving research), promoting conservation and outdoor recreation opportunities, and growing the biobased economy. LFLP is part of the USDA’s commitment to support local and regional food systems, along with its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department’s policy, resources and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems.
Happily, roughly 66 percent of Americans now say they will pay more for food produced close to home, according to Cone Communications’ 2014 Food Issues Trend Tracker.