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Sustainable Community and Local Food Systems

The farm to table movement is growing in Arkansas. Many communities have created farmers' markets, established community gardens, started serving farm fresh food in school cafeterias and more. Arkansas is seeing an increased interests in sustainable agriculture and locally grown foods. A growing number of farms are producing a wide variety of locally produced vegetables, fruits, grain, nuts, seeds and livestock. 

What is a Sustainable Community Food System?

A sustainable food system is one that provides healthy food to meet current needs while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can also provide food for generations to come with minimal negative impact to the environment. A sustainable food system encourages local production and distribution infrastructures and makes nutritious food available, accessible, and affordable to all. Further, it is humane and just, protecting farmers and other workers, consumers, and communities.

- American Public Health Association

Building a Sustainable Community Food System

Build a Sustainable Community Food System

Here are a few tools to help you grow your community and local food system.

Learn more about Systems

Arkansas Local Food Survey

Arkansas Local Food Survey 

Local food stakeholders in Arkansas provided input about the role they play in the local food system. A final report of the findings will be shared in the summer of 2017. 

Learn more about our Survey

 Arkansas Local Food Meetups

This project is part of a mutli-state partnership sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate state efforts around local food system development to look for opportunities to:

Northwest Arkansas Local Food Meetup held at Pratt Place Inn, Fayetteville

  • Provide greater resources and technical assistance for local food system development.
  • Support regional planning and development.
  • Foster local food and farm business development.

Image: Central Arkansas Local Food Meetup, Arkansas Innovation Hub, North Little Rock, AR.


This report summarizes the information gathered during five regional meetings with local food system stakeholders in Arkansas to better understand the scope of the local food system and the needs for supporting local food value-chain development.

Download the Report

Local Foods Resources

Local Food Product Development

Visit the Arkansas Food Innovation Center website to learn more about food product development at:

A few resources for product development and the Cottage Food Law. 

Arkansas Cottage Food Law Fact Sheet

Federal Cottage Food Law Definitions

Cottage Food Law Guidelines

Cottage Food Law FAQ

Niche Meat Processing

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network

NMPAN is a network and info hub for people and organizations who want small meat processors to thrive. We offer tools and information for small processors and the farmers, marketers, and meat buyers who depend on them. 

Beekeeping in Arkansas

Keeping honey bees is an increasingly popular activity for both leisure and profit. Check out to learn more about practices and upcoming events.  

Shared-Use Kitchen Planning

THE SHARED‐USE KITCHEN PLANNING TOOLKIT A guide to starting shared‐use kitchens as an affordable venue   for new and existing value‐added food production entrepreneurs, farmers and caterers.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) 

THE SHARED‐USE KITCHEN PLANNING TOOLKIT A guide to starting shared‐use kitchens as an affordable venue   for new and existing value‐added food production entrepreneurs, farmers and caterers.

Factsheets for some Arkansas Grown Foods. 


Tools for Building a Sustainable Community Food System

Community Food System Development Change Framework, by Amanda Philyaw Perez, DrPH, MPH, University of Arkansas Extension

Growing a Healthy Economy with Local Foods, by Becky L. Bowen, JD, North Carolina Extension

Community Food Systems Toolkit, University of Wisconsin Extension

Local Food Systems, Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Arkansas Local Food Survey

The survey is now closed and we are reviewing the data. A report will be shared with the public in early 2017. Thank you to those that participated in the survey. We are excited to be partnering with Dr. Zola Moon, Associate of Professor of Human and Environmental Sciences with the University of Arkansas and Courtney Cooper, a UA graduate student on this work. 

The findings will: 

  • Help us better understand the types of resources and technical assistance that are needed to help build stronger local and regional food systems in Arkansas.
  • Help the U. S. Department of Agriculture better understand the challenges faced by those working to support their local and regional food systems.
  • Provide AR Food supporters information to understand the specific needs of your community. A report will be shared with participants.