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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

Publications

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

    This tool helps communities have a menu of options for community food system change and a process for determining what types of change fit best in their the community.

  • Arkansas Local Food System Meetup Report 2017 

    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.

Projects

Share Grounds: Shared Kitchen Incubator

The Share Grounds: Kitchen Incubator and Aggregation Center Development project offers an innovative approach to bring solutions to rural communities by utilizing existing facilities and infrastructure at the County Fairgrounds. This project will establish three kitchen incubator and aggregation centers at the Searcy (Marshall), Cleveland (Rison), and Three County (McCrory) fairgrounds with the goals to:

1) increase access to and consumption of local foods in Arkansas by expanding utilization and capacity of fairgrounds for aggregation, distribution, and value-added product development,

2) support local farms,

3) develop and expand opportunities for value-added food businesses,

4) foster the growth of regional food economies, and

5) improve access to food in underserved communities and institutions

In the beginning stage of this project, we are working with the county agents and fair ground site managers on site facility modification plans as well as organizing advisory committees for each of the sites. In spring 2019, we will start site modifications and install equipment (not construction) into the facilities. We will also conduct a regional market and community interest assessment to better serve the clients who will use the shared kitchen incubator sites. By mid 2019, we will advertise and hire a part time site manager for each location. We plan to have the sites open in the fall of 2019 after the county and state fairs have ended.

If you are interested in becoming a client or serving on the community advisory board please check back on this webpage,www.uaex.edu/local-foods for more information in 2019.

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


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

Local Food Product Development

Visit the Arkansas Food Innovation Center website to learn more about food product development at: http://afic.uark.edu/

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 www.uaex.edu/bees 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.

Farm to School

Farm to school is a movement now reaching more than 40,000 schools. What are recommendations for those interested in expanding such efforts?