Source: OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY submitted to
SOCIAL NETWORKING, MARKET AND COMMERCIALIZATION INFRASTRUCTURE FOR MIDWESTERN FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CROPS IN LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0216038
Grant No.
2008-51180-19578
Project No.
OHO01032-SS
Proposal No.
2009-01246
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
SCRI
Project Start Date
Sep 1, 2008
Project End Date
Aug 31, 2013
Grant Year
2009
Project Director
Hoy, C. W.
Recipient Organization
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
1680 MADISON AVENUE
WOOSTER,OH 44691
Performing Department
ENTOMOLOGY
Non Technical Summary
Redevelopment of local food systems is an immediate opportunity for the US economy to respond to current challenges in energy and the environment, and present both a compliment and counterbalance to global food systems. Likewise, all indications are that consumer demand supports a trend toward more locally produced foods and foods identified with attributes friendly to environment, economy and personal health. For the Midwest in particular, fresh fruits and vegetables are supply-limited in local markets, offering substantial opportunities for producers. To be successful, however, local food systems must function holistically, their participants must contribute effectively in each system, and they must function interdependently in cohesive regional food systems. This requires attention to system design, learning new social skills featuring the most advanced communication technology available, collaboration, and developing technical skills in local food production, along with such allied technologies such as renewable energy production and green building methods. The challenge addressed by this project is designing venues, processes, and tools that engage a critical mass of people in hands-on training and practical experiences and further develop their skills in essential social and technical competencies. Practical experiences will be offered by conducting food system building pilot projects at a range of geographic scales from neighborhood to regional. The specific objectives of each pilot project will engage specialty crops producers with other participants in a local food system to build networking and collaboration capabilities that can be applied to creating additional market opportunities. Our dual emphasis on both the social and the technical dimensions of local food systems dictates the following outreach and research objectives. The outreach objective of the proposal is an information and communication process that draws upon websites, email, phone, personal interviews, small group sessions, and large-scale conferences to convene people around localized agendas and building collaborations around technology innovation and specialty crops production and marketing. Research will be conducted in concert with outreach efforts to support development of local food system infrastructure through documentation and analysis of network development, function and accomplishment in building local food system infrastructure. We will examine such key topics as the role and adoption of various communication technologies such as internet and cell phone networks; adaptation of communication and collaboration styles by participants along the supply chain from producer to consumer; measuring the effect of these technologies and processes on customer and producer satisfaction in business transactions; and assisting producers with navigating the market channels that networks could open for specialty crops and associated new technology.
Animal Health Component
(N/A)
Research Effort Categories
Basic
(N/A)
Applied
25%
Developmental
75%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
6041199301010%
6041499301010%
6046099303030%
8036099301025%
8036099303025%
Goals / Objectives
In this project, we focus on strengthening networking capacity and honing collaborative skills to prompt market expansion, technology commercialization, and business growth through local food systems that produce and deliver specialty crops in the Midwest. Furthermore, we propose to link these distributed local food systems into a robust, interstate, regional network that shares experience and learning, expedites the adoption of new technology and practices, and coordinates the supply of food from one locality to another. We plan to expand and test a powerful multi-state collaborative to expand markets for specialty crops and value-added food products into the full range of retail food outlets in the combined region, building the commercialization infrastructure for innovations in specialty crop production in the process The regional "web" infrastructure provides ample opportunities for experimentation and research on both technical and social dimensions. Our research will quantify: (a) market expansion, (b) uptake in technological innovation, and (c) business growth associated with specialty crop production. In addition, it will offer a qualitative methodology to evaluate networking and collaboration capabilities among Midwest regional participants. Accelerating and deepening the growth in local food systems requires a strategic framework for localization that takes into consideration both technical and social dimensions, expediting: knowledge needed for localization, a flow of information and knowledge about localization, skill-building curricula for social networking, education and training curricula for technical capabilities, networks among localities opening a range of new scales in supply and demand. Utilizing this strategic framework brings people and resources together to: support local food production in urban, periurban, and rural landscapes; provide outlets for locally produced food to the public; implement a "zero-emissions" logistics system. Our proposed network building, and facilitating the shift from communication about food systems to collaboration on building them, are expected to provide jobs, markets, logistics, and healthy diets. The result we envision is a sustainable system of creating and connecting jobs and businesses, reducing energy use, and advancing specialty crops.
Project Methods
We plan to hold statewide meetings in each of the participating states as a means of providing the initial nucleus of a food systems collaboration. The goal of each of these state level meetings will be to develop and further the relationships between key participants in the state food system, organize working groups around the key areas of need as judged by the participants, and move the communication between participants and within each working group into a social networking system that is supported by multiple technologies. The meeting will be a success when new relationships have been developed along the food supply chain within each state, starting with specialty crops producers. These relationships are expected to provide enough value to maintain an ongoing virtual dialogue that evolves into local business establishment and growth. Ongoing support and facilitation will be provided to move the communication into online communication and eventually collaboration. The success of this networking will be apparent when new subscribers are joining regularly because of the content of the communications taking place, and when the communication clearly is "in the flow" of the work of participants enabling specific action steps to be taken by the group. Pilot projects will be offered to provide substance to the networking and specific examples of collaboration, including: Establishing local fruit and vegetable sales at gas station/convenience store sites in rural "food deserts" (multiple-county regions); Connecting youth-serving organizations to embrace fruit and vegetable production, marketing, preparation, and policy education and activities, stimulating specialty crops-based entrepreneurship among young people (cities and large towns); Establishing neighborhood level specialty crop production homeowner services to grow and provide crops within participating neighborhoods (neighborhoods within municipalities); Once networks have been established and coached toward collaboration and business development at a range of geographic scales, the project team will work on connecting these various scales together throughout the multi-state region. Building this regional network will begin with a regional meeting of network leaders and managers, to collaboratively develop the regional networking approach and needed support. Based on the outcomes of this regional network design meeting, the regional team will build the new technical capabilities needed for the additional level of networking and coach the more localized networks on scaling up to the regional level. Complimentary and supporting research will be conducted to support the growing networks, with the primary goal of improving network function and connectivity and creating opportunities for specialty crop growers to market their products. Ultimately, the goal is to expand and test a powerful multi-state collaborative to market specialty crops and value added food products into the full range of retail food outlets in the combined region, building the commercialization infrastructure for innovations in specialty crop production in the process.

Progress 09/01/08 to 08/31/13

Outputs
Target Audience: The online networking software developed in the project targeted food system innovators, entrepreneurs, and their supporters. Our focus was on Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, but the online tools were available to national and international audiences. Direct networking and outreach support was provided to economically disadvantaged and minority communities and businesses, as well in Pittsburgh and Western PA, Youngstown, Cleveland and NorthEast Ohio, Athens, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Detroit, as well as specialty crop producers throughout the Midwest and Eastern US. Changes/Problems: Although all proposed goals were met, we did experience several changes and challenges in the project: The Fresh Food Filling Station Pilot project lost support from several filling stations before the project began. The US financial system collapse in September 2008, at the very outset of the project, presented significant challenges to John Deere and all project participants in meeting their matching commitment to the project, although the commitments were upheld. Personnel changes during the life of the project required adjustment at several points. For example CoPI Smalley retired and Boulos left PASA during the project period, after which new participants had to be identified to pick up the work. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? The following individuals provided significant time and contributions to the project, resulting in approximately 19.65 person years (FTE’s) supported by the project, including federal and non-federal match, by those most directly involved: Casey W. Hoy, Stan Ernst, Ross MacDonald, Megan Shoenfelt, Nathan Hilbert, Sam Rose, Jeff Schuler, Leah Miller, Brian Gwin, OSU and OSU consultants, networking site development, business case and entrepreneur coaching and business planning assistance, research in social network analysis, 8.85 FTE; Steve Bosserman, Bosserman & Associates, Inc.; facilitation of project workshops and support to network collaborators, 3 FTE; Greg Boulos, Leah Smith, web designers, PASA, Pennsylvania workshops and networking pilot projects, 1.2 FTE; Mike Hamm, Susan Cocciarelli, Susan Smalley, Anne Scott, MSU, Michigan Dept. of Public Health consulting, pilot projects in Michigan, 3.6 FTE; John Reid, Pinakin Desai, Steve Faivre, Larry Hendrickson, Kelly Taylor-Bhagat, and Aaron Hopkins, technical contributions of corporate partner John Deere, 3 FTE. The project contributed to the MS programs for two students: Nathan Hilbert, MS, University of Nebraska Sara Williamson, MS, Ohio State University Training was provided at the annual Michigan Agriscience Teacher professional development workshop for two years. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Results have generally been disseminated through the localfoodsystems.org website, which contains a lasting record of project activities and results. PASA has disseminated information on the project to their members via the PASA newsletter in addition to their web page. Additional communities of interest include the Michigan Agricscience Teachers, Department of Community Health Prevention Promotion Program, and the Michigan Community and School Gardening Network. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Initial statewide networking meetings launched the networking effort in each state, followed by pilot projects and online networking to further develop and study the process for building networks that create opportunities for specialty crop growers in local economies. A website, localfoodsystems.org, was developed and the social networking tools were honed to support entrepreneurs in planning supply chains rooted in agriculture. Through the combination of face to face meetings and online networking between them, a wide range of projects engaged youth in agriculture, specialty crop producers, and entrepreneurs developing related businesses, and their supporting partners and agencies throughout the region. Over the course of the project, work was increasingly focused on development and planning business cases that would lead to investment, jobs and income in agriculture-related enterprises. All specific project goals were met. The project resulted in an online infrastructure that has subscribers throughout the United States and in 139 countries on 6 continents. The online tools, and particularly the tools focused on collaborative supply chain planning, are unique; to our knowledge they are not available anywhere else. Online communications, measured by replies to posts on localfoodsystems.org, were more frequent among those who live within a radius of approximately 275 miles than those who lived at a greater distance. Topics discussed were more likely to be similar within a radius of approximately 475 miles than at greater distances. The online network examined in the project showed no signs of dividing into sub-networks over time, suggesting that networks focused on local food systems through the website developed for the project remained cohesive. We predict that the use of these new tools will build slowly, while few users are familiar with them, but eventually their use will increase more rapidly as more people discover and use them. Knowledge: The number of subscribers to localfoodsystems.org steadily increased from 290 in 2009 to 1,747 in 2013. Many more readers have accessed the site for its information content (11,110 visitors, 80,904 page views, 4.7 pages/visit in 2013). The site is being read, and visitors are finding useful information. Working groups increased from 56 in 2009 to 137 in 2013. Approximately 60% of 14,000 site visits were from the North Central states, but at least 10% were from each of the other three US regions during 2013. The site has received visitors from 139 countries and territories on 6 continents. A series of ten online educational presentations at http://sustainablelocaleconomicdevelopment.blogspot.com resulted in 7,366 page views from readers in 10 countries: United States – 4,925; Australia – 198; Canada – 194; France – 171; India – 117; Russia – 114; Philippines – 112; South Africa – 106; United Kingdom – 93; Spain – 56. Through workshops, training, and online participation, we estimate that over 2,500 participants have learned new approaches to networking on building local economies rooted in agriculture in face to face meetings, and well over 25,000 learned new information and approaches through online access of information and networking experience provided by the project. Actions: Explore – Although the bulk of the information in the explore section of localfoodsystems.org has been entered by the project team, users are able to enter community assets that appear on the asset maps served in this section of the site. Users have entered 32 community assets on asset maps to date. Connect – Site users have described and posted 302 business cases on the localfoodsystems.org site to date. Of the cases being developed on the site, 21 are in unpublished draft form and 281 are published. Cases that have not remained active are archived, and 47 of the current cases have been archived during the project while 235 remain active and published. Among these business cases, 907 potential supply chain connections have been identified, allowing the entrepreneurs connected with the cases to include these supply chain connections in their business plans. The site has received 60 business cases directly dealing in specialty crop supply chains; 45 of these business cases remain active (published and not archived). At least 15% of the business cases (e.g. Workforce Food Centers, incubator kitchens and training programs) are led by economically disadvantaged, underserved, and/or minority populations. The Michigan based YOUTHGROW listserv, which connects youth and youth leaders engaged in sustainable and community agriculture, has grown in membership from 15 to over 313 since the beginning of the project. The Michigan Fresh Fruit Filling Station pilot project engaged 1 local fruit and vegetable grower and 3 store locations in direct marketing through new outlets at the Fresh Produce Filling Stations. The PASA membership in Western Pennsylvania included over 6,000 participants who received educational materials and over 60 partners engaged with a local purchase campaign for specialty crops and other local products. Collaborate – There are 162 published groups on the Local Food Systems website including 30 Collaborative Business Portfolios, and 4 Public Collaborative Business Portfolios, which have the expressed purpose of launching new businesses connected with specialty crops. Grants, proposals and associated stakeholder networks assisted by localfoodsystems.org, in networking and planning and use of the site tools include: USDA SARE, AFRI Foundational, SCRI, CNH, University of Illinois and Ohio State University, and the Fund for Our Economic Future, which has provided an additional $625,000 to date. The project currently contributes to leadership development and capacity building at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, under a USAID Feed the Future grant project. Launch – The Northeast Ohio Catalyzing the Agricultural Bioscience Industry Cluster project, using the localfoodsystems.org platform, has 15 businesses with an investment of $15.8 million in the past year and a conservative jobs impact of 36 full time positions. Approximately one-third of this activity is directly related to specialty crops, including four kitchen incubators, agricultural business accelerator and a large produce auction. While the “launch” section of localfoodsystems.org is beyond the scope of the current project, networking on additional capital investments has included financial, natural (land), human, intellectual, built/physical, and social capital from over 40 sources secured for agricultural business development. Conditions: New networking infrastructure that is focused on supply chain planning connected with agriculture, and that is unavailable anywhere else, was developed in localfoodsystems.org. We have achieved a new focus on agriculture within the philanthropic community, as demonstrated by $625,000 in foundation support for Ohio State University efforts leveraged by the project. State funding has been leveraged as well, for example the adoption of the program by the Michigan Dept. of Community Health Wise Woman project in developing an entrepreneurial farming project for beginning women farmers. Local and state food policy councils in PA, OH and MI benefitted from the project via communication on issues relevant to local food systems. The Ohio Food Policy Council used the site for networking among its task forces. A wide range of collaborations, and in particular collaborative business portfolios, are active and documented on localfoodsystems.org and will continue to grow and influence local economies well beyond the life of the grant.

Publications

  • Type: Websites Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: http://www.slideshare.net/sledslides/presentations
  • Type: Websites Status: Published Year Published: 2008 Citation: localfoodsystems.org
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Hamm, M. Communicating Messages  Getting Youth to Think About the Food System (2/12) Iowa State University, FSHN 366: Communicating Nutrition Messages
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Hoy, C. Local food systems for agroecosystem health and resilience. Dept. of Horticulture and Crop Sciences, OSU/OARDC Seminar Series. Wooster, OH February 16, 2012
  • Type: Book Chapters Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Casey Hoy, Steve Bosserman, and Ross MacDonald. 2012. Social Networks, Ecological Frameworks, and Local Economies. Pp. 29-54. In Local Food Geographies: Concepts, Spatial Context, and Local Practices (N. Reid, J. Gatrell, P. Ross, eds.).
  • Type: Book Chapters Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Casey Hoy, Benson Lee, Steve Bosserman, and Ross MacDonald. 2013. Discourse Communities, Disconnects and Digital Media: The Case of Relocalizing Economies for Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Systems. Pp 171-194. In (M. ORourke, S. Eigenbrode, eds.). Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks. 425 pp.
  • Type: Theses/Dissertations Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Williamson, Sara. (2012). Local Foods Consumers: perceptions, preferences, and purchasing motivations associated with benefits to public or private life. Masters Thesis. Department of Agricultural Economics. University of Kentucky. Advisor: Tim Woods.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Conner, D., Nowak, A., Berkenkamp, J., Feenstra, G., Van Soelen Kim, J. Liquori, T. and Hamm, M. 2011. Value Chains and Sustainable Procurement in Large School Districts: Fostering partnerships. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development 1 (4).
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Conner, D, T. Liquori, B. Izumi, M. Hamm. 2012 Sustainable School Food Procurement in Large K-12 Districts: Prospects for Value Chain Partnerships. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 41(1) 100-113.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2009 Citation: Hoy, C. W., Local food systems, Self Reliant Cities Symposium, Cleveland, OH, December 3, 2009
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2009 Citation: Hoy, C. W., Local food systems as a strategy in agroecosystems management, ESA Annual Meeting, Section Symposium, December 15, 2009
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, Casey. 2010. Social Networking to Build Local Economies, Starting with Food. Presented at International Geographers Union Conference on Local Food Systems in Old Industrial Regions, University of Toledo, August 5, 2010.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, Casey, Building Infrastructure to Support Regional Systems for Specialty Crops. Presented at USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative Project Directors Meeting, Palm Desert, CA, August 3, 2010.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, Casey, Networking and Collaboration Infrastructure to Support Local Economies and Local Food Systems. Presented at American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Meeting, Palm Desert, CA, August 3, 3010.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, C. Discourse Communities, Disconnects and Digital Media: The Case of Relocalizing Economies for Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Systems. Presented at NSF-Univ. of Idaho Conference on Enhancing Communication in Cross Disciplinary Research. Coeur dAlene, ID, September 30-October 2, 2010.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, C. W. Ohio Food, Ohio Farms, and the Buckeye Tiger Economy. Ohio Legislative Service Commission, New Member Orientation, Columbus Ohio, November 16, 2010
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Hamm, M. Michigan Good Food Charter: Process and Outcome (3/11) New England Food Summit, Portsmouth, NH
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Hamm, M. Michigan Good Food Charter: Opportunities for Philanthropy (3/11) Funders Network for Smart Growth Conference, Detroit, MI
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Hoy, C. W. Catalyzing Business Ecosystems for Good Food and Healthy Local Economies. Making Good Food Work Conference. Detroit, MI. (April 20, 2011)
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Hamm, M. Planning for Local Food Systems (5/11) Michigan American Planning Association Spring Institute 2011, Lansing, MI
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Building Equitable and Sustainable Foods Systems: What Does It Take? (4/13) Council on Foundations 2013 Annual Conference, Chicago, IL
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Hilbert, Nathan. Social Network Analysis for Economic Development. Agriculture Food and Human Values Society Conference, East Lansing, MI, June 2013.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Hoy, C. Connecting People to the Land, and Each Other, to Improve Agroecosystem Health. Agriculture Food and Human Values Society Conference, East Lansing, MI, June 2013.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Williamson, Sara and Timothy Woods (2012). Local Foods Consumers: a look under the hood. Selected Paper presented at the annual meeting of WERA072: Agribusiness Scholarship Emphasizing Competitiveness, West Lafayette, IN, June 25-26, 2012
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Williamson, Sara, Stan Ernst, Timothy Woods, Wuyang Hu. (2012) Characteristics of Local Foods Consumers: a fresh look. Selected Paper presented at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Birmingham, AL, February 4-7, 2012.
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hamm, M. An Economic Development Framework for Sustainable Agriculture (1/10) University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, C. Social Networking, Local Economies, and Agroecosystem Health. Dept. of Entomology, NY State Agric. Exp. Sta., Geneva, NY May 18, 2010
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2010 Citation: Hoy, C. Local Food Systems, a strategy towards Healthy Agroecosystems. OSU Dept. of Entomology Seminar Series. Wooster, OH. September 29, 2010
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Hoy, C. Social Networks, Business Ecosystems, and Agroecosystem Health. BUGGS Seminar series, University of Idaho and Washington State University. January 14, 2011
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2011 Citation: Hamm, M. Processing Opportunities for Regional Food Markets (3/11) Testimony to the Michigan House Agriculture Processing Sub-Committee Hearing, Lansing, MI
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Hoy, C. Ohio agricultures past, present and future. NEO Sustainable Communities Consortium Environmental Workstream, GAR Foundation, February 17, 2012, Akron, Ohio.
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Hamm, M. Rural and Economic Development Efforts Around Agriculture in Michigan (panelist) (4/12) MDARDs Food and Dairy School, Frankenmuth, MI
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2012 Citation: Hoy, C. Using Social Networks to Build Local Economies. eXtension Community of Practice on Entrepreneurs and Their Communities webinar, November 8, 2012 (https://learn.extension.org/events/609).
  • Type: Other Status: Published Year Published: 2013 Citation: Building Sustainable Food Systems (4/13) WKAR Current State, Public radio broadcast from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.


Progress 09/01/11 to 08/31/12

Outputs
OUTPUTS: Support for entrepreneurs enhanced and largely completed in localfoodsystems.org: Explore, agricultural assets and current entrepreneurial interest in a users locale, and Connect, business cases can be connected along potential supply chains, the site was evaluated for user experience and ease of use. Completed an online description of a sustainable local economic development process, which includes pathways for business ideas to evolve into business ecosystems and a framework for localizing an economy, catalogued in Trello (https://trello.com/board/sustainable-local-economic-development/4f8e b3a64aee59b442768043). Various additional social media tools have been explored to see how expansive an audience can be reached with minimal effort and expense. A blogging site, http://sustainablelocaleconomicdevelopment.blogspot.com, was developed that could be linked with Google+, Facebook and Twitter to examine the impact on receptivity and readership. October 2011: Hosted Regional Shared Commercial Kitchen Round Table &Penn State University Food for Profit, convened 31 producers, entrepreneurs, and commercial kitchen developers from western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio to share, network, and learn from one another. Article on localfoodsystems.org website published in January/February 2012 issue of Passages and issued a press release jointly with SCRI team. Hosted 2012 PASA Master Classes to build skills and connections in specialty crop production for beginning farmers in 2012: Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation, Greenhouse Tomato Grafting, Vegetable Harvesting and Packing, Equipment for Small-Scale Farming, and Organic Orchard Care, 78 total participants. Business ecosystem planning added over 50 business cases in NE Ohio during the reporting period, over 15 of these were directly connected with specialty crop production and many others indirectly. The project was presented at "Ohio Grown: Local Food Creating Local Opportunities" on August 9th, 2012. The Michigan Fresh Fruit Filling Station pilot project engaged 1 local fruit and vegetable grower and 3 store locations in direct marketing through new outlets at the FPFS. Youth Community Food Initiative output during the 2011-2012 reporting period included: Community School Gardener Networking Committee convened and facilitated; Planned and participated in the Michigan Family Farm's Conference Youth Track; Engagement of high school Multicultural Apprenticeship Program; Outreach and engagement of Michigan Agriscience Educators through presentation at Michigan's Fall Professional Development Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resource educators; Continued development of Business Ecosystems Tools for use by educators; Promotion of youth agriculture and food system entrepreneurship and career development opportunities in the Michigan Good Food Charter goals; Updated data base of public and private funds available for youth food system and agricultural education available through Youth Community Food Initiative; National FFA Agri-entrepreneurship Program lesson plans; Co-organized educational webinar with Food Corps program for community and school garden youth programmers. PARTICIPANTS: Steve Bosserman, Bosserman & Associates, Inc. - Facilitation of project workshops and ongoing support to network collaborators Leah Smith, PASA, - Organization of efforts in Pennsylvania including workshops and networking pilot projects. Stan Ernst, OSU - Conducted research on networks and specialty crop markets. Casey W. Hoy, OSU - Overall project coordination Susan Smalley, MSU - Managed pilot projects in Michigan, assisted with project evaluation and research. Anne Scott, MSU - Michigan Youth Engagement Pilot Project, took over as Michigan project PI Megan Shoenfelt, OSU - Ohio pilot projects Ross MacDonald, OSU - Social networking curriculum development Nathan Hilbert - networking site development, led research in social network analysis based on site use Leah Miller - Stakeholder network coordination in Ohio Brian Gwin - networking site development, business case and entrepreneur coaching and business planning assistance Partners - Primary organizations are Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Penn State University Collaborators, contacts - Numerous other organizations in the network, see localfoodsystems.org Training - work on the site and project contributed to MS degree work for Nathan Hilbert TARGET AUDIENCES: Food system innovators and entrepreneurs throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were served by the project. Particular focus was on specialty crop producers or potential producers and entrepreneurs who could improve their supply chains. Because the project is creating online infrastructure to help with business supply chain planning, anyone with access to the internet can access this infrastructure. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Number of site subscribers, working groups, site visits, business cases, and site business case connections have continued to increase. Online presentations on the sustainable local economic development process have received over 1000 reads. A blogging site, http://sustainablelocaleconomicdevelopment.blogspot.com, has received over 3100 reads on 10 postings made in August 2012. Grants, proposal and associated stakeholder networks assisted by localfoodsystems.org, in networking and planning: -USDA SARE Research and Education proposal, "Garden to Cafeteria: School Food Production Guide for School Meals and Student Learning (Anne Scott, PI - NOT FUNDED, resubmitted to the United Way of South East Michigan in Winter 2012/13. AFRI Foundational Grant currently planned with a women's farming collaborative (WISE WOMAN), and District Health Department #10, to explore filling station farm stands as a scale-appropriate market opportunity for new women farmers and market gardeners in the North East Region of Michigan. The Michigan based YOUTHGROW listserv, which connects youth and youth leaders engaged in sustainable and community agriculture, has grown in membership from 15 to 313 since the beginning of the grant. School and community-based youth engagement and development initiatives were linked to models, tools, and funding sources through project activities. Local and regional Youth agriculture and food system initiatives across Michigan are interconnected through multifaceted networking structures. Voices of youth, youth advocates and stakeholders in agriculture and community food system development engaged via these networks in policy at the state and local levels through the Michigan Good Food Charter The Michigan Fresh Fruit Filling Station pilot project resulted in a local aggregation/produce distribution network with fuel-efficient infrastructure in development, and stronger linkages among local residents and farmers through direct marketing in the pilot project (survey data still under analysis). Leveraging by an additional grant to Ohio State University, from the Fund for Our Economic Future in Northeast Ohio, is developing networking tools specifically for business ecosystem planning in agriculture and organizing community investment in these business ecosystems. 31 producers, entrepreneurs, and commercial kitchen developers from western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio received training and network support through the Shared Commercial Kitchen Round Table and the Penn State University Food for Profit program. 78 participants received PASA Master Class training in 2012.

Publications

  • Casey Hoy, Steve Bosserman, and Ross MacDonald. 2012. Social Networks, Ecological Frameworks, and Local Economies. Pp. 29-54. In Local Food Geographies: Concepts, Spatial Context, and Local Practices (N. Reid, J. Gatrell, P. Ross, eds.).
  • Williamson, Sara and Timothy Woods (2012). Local Foods Consumers: a look under the hood. Selected Paper presented at the annual meeting of WERA072: Agribusiness Scholarship Emphasizing Competitiveness, West Lafayette, IN, June 25-26, 2012.
  • Williamson, Sara, Stan Ernst, Timothy Woods, Wuyang Hu. (2012) Characteristics of Local Foods Consumers: a fresh look. Selected Paper presented at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Birmingham, AL, February 4-7, 2012.
  • Williamson, Sara. (2012). Local Foods Consumers: perceptions, preferences, and purchasing motivations associated with benefits to public or private life. MS Thesis. Department of Agricultural Economics. University of Kentucky. Advisor: Tim Woods.
  • Online presentations on building sustainable local economies, 2012, http://www.slideshare.net/sledslides/presentations


Progress 09/01/10 to 08/31/11

Outputs
OUTPUTS: In this project, we focus on networking capacity and collaborative skills to prompt market expansion, technology commercialization, and business growth through local food systems that produce and deliver specialty crops in the Midwest. We are linking these local food systems into a robust, interstate, regional network that shares experience and learning and expedites the adoption of new technology and practices. The project social networking site, localfoodsystems.org, was updated with a mapping interface that allows entrepreneurs to place their business case on a map, see potential supply chain connections to other businesses and business cases, and contact these potential suppliers or customers through the site. Further progress was made on including agricultural asset mapping to the tools available. Project partners collaborated on training in use of the site tools at the Making Good Food Work conference, Detroit, MI, April, 2011. OSU researchers developed datasets on participant interactions using localfoodsystems.org and tested analytical methods for two analyses using these data. The site graphics were revised to increase the focus on entrepreneur support. PASA developed the Western Regional Bulletin and Buy Fresh Buy Local Monthly Newsletter to reach over 6,000 individuals through e-communications. The PASA Regional Food Infrastructure Network hosted 8 workshops to build the capacity of specialty crop producers in the region including: Selling Local Food Through Distributors, Understanding GAPS, Farmers Market Success, Online Marketing, Creative Conservation, Planning for Conservation and Profit, Introduction to Land Leasing, and Beginning Farmer Roundtable. PASA created a localfoodsystems.org group for farmers market managers and vendors in Western PA. A new PASA interactive website framework was developed and content is currently being developed and added to the new site, providing "on-demand relevant sites updates, discussions, member communications, events, and classified listings" as described in the SCRI proposal. Buy Fresh Buy Local PA enrolled 60 partners, published a Farmers Market Guide and CSA Guide. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals: Casey W. Hoy, Ohio State Univ. PI - Overall project coordination, coordination of Ohio pilot projects, visibility and connection with Ohio Food Policy Advisory Council and allied efforts in Ohio. Steve Bosserman, Bosserman & Associates, Inc. co-PI - Facilitation of project workshops and ongoing support to network collaborators via online, telephone and face-to-face meetings. Leah Smith, PASA, co-PI - Organization of efforts in Pennsylvania including workshops, networking pilot projects arising from the RFIN project, and linking with remainder of the region. Stan Ernst, Ohio State Univ. co-PI - Developed methods for pricing in specialty crop markets and surveys to evaluate network activity. Megan Shoenfelt, Ohio State Univ. - Arranged project meetings, provided leadership for youth engagement pilot projects in Ohio. Ross MacDonald, Ohio State Univ. - Developed curriculum for social network use and collaboration. Steve Faivre, John Deere - Provided engineering support and consulting for food system innovations. Larry Hendrickson, John Deere- Provided engineering support and consulting for food system innovations. Michael W. Hamm, Michigan State University, co-PI - Supervised project activity in Michigan. Susan Smalley, Michigan State Univ. co-PI - Managed linkage between project and Michigan agricultural organizations and businesses, cooperating states, and pilot projects in Michigan. Anne Scott, Michigan State Univ. - coordinated youth engagement pilot project in Michigan. Nathan Hilbert, OSU Agroecosystems Management Program GIS Application Developer - mapping applications and site development Jeff Schuler, Substrate Websoft - Software and site development for localfoodsystems.org Partner Organizations: The Ohio State University Michigan State University Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture John Deere Social Synergy Penn State University Substrate Websoft Collaborators: John F. Reid, John Deere - Supervised John Deere's contribution of staff expertise in advanced marketing, advanced technology, information and management systems, and collaborative business processes. Subscribers and participants in localfoodsystems.org TARGET AUDIENCES: Food system innovators and entrepreneurs throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
The project has resulted in connections among subscribers from across the region and around the world on localfoodsystems.org that are increasing the development of their business plans, adding new jobs, and increasing sales for specialty crops in local food systems. During the reporting period, 279 new users subscribed to localfoodsystems.org, bringing the total to 1243 for a 28.9% increase. On average the site averaged 20,393 page loads per month from February to August 2011. In Western PA, 140 farmers gained knowledge to increase productivity through improved specialty crop production or marketing/distribution. Buy Fresh Buy Local PA recorded1,939 listings statewide, a 20% increase over the past year. Localfoodsystems.org has contributed to planning and collaboration on 3 additional USDA proposals. The first commercial venture to emerge from localfoodsystems.org was a business that seeks to establish specialty crop production at the most local level, the neighborhood. Called the Greener Acres Value Network, GAVNet, the value network that increased to 12 businesses during the reporting period is slowly establishing in the Columbus area and Northeast Ohio region. It has attracted the attention of the Columbus Mayor's office, the Fund For Our Economic Future, and ATECH on the Ohio Agricultural Resesarch and Development Center's Wooster campus for its potential to revitalize urban neighborhoods and local economies. More than 20 new business cases were posted and mapped on localfoodsystems.org, giving the associated entrepreneurs unique and valuable business planning information. This project has leveraged USDA funding with an additional $200,000 grant from the Fund for Our Economic Future, a coalition of 60+ foundations that invests in economic development in Northeast Ohio, in recognition of its potential to build an agricultural bioscience industry cluster.

Publications

  • Casey Hoy, Steve Bosserman, and Ross MacDonald. 2012. Social Networks, Ecological Frameworks, and Local Economies. In Local Food Geographies: Concepts, Spatial Context, and Local Practices (N. Reid, J. Gatrell, P. Ross, eds.). In Press.


Progress 09/01/09 to 08/31/10

Outputs
OUTPUTS: The project focuses on developing social networking tools to connect those planning new businesses around innovations related to specialty crops. Pilot projects that require networking are exploring new ways to use social networking in a purposeful way to connect business planning with innovations related to specialty crops. Strategic planning within the PA, OH, MI region included Youngstown Goodness Grows (faith-based, non-profit organization) for expansion of specialty crop production and workforce preparation, and planning for an OEFFA - PASA joint conference. Networking highlights include: PASA Western Regional Listserv: 256 Members, 630 messages communicated in 2010. PASA Western Regional Bulletin: information and events relevant to PASA Western Regional Members and specialty crop production. Buy Fresh Buy Local Monthly Newsletter: Mailing list of over 5,000 consumers in Western PA providing information to help consumers buy local foods, including specialty crops produced in Western Pennsylvania. Regional Food Infrastructure Network: producers, processors, distributors, and food system activists share information and innovations on topics related to specialty crops including Farmers Market Management, Season Extension and High Tunnels, and Small Plot Intensive Farming. PASA Networking Potlucks held throughout Western PA and Eastern OH with an average attendance of 50. Buy Fresh Buy Local: Network of producers, restaurants and retailers who use a common branding and marketing strategy to promote specialty crops produced and marketed in Western Pennsylvania. 55 partners enrolled in 2010. Farmers Market Guide and CSA Guide published and distributed. Buylocalpa.org website shows over 1,600 listings in PA. The Ohio program networked with FFA leadership, 4-H curriculum, Vocational Agriculture educators, OSU Extension, Green Core Urban Youth Program sponsored by the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. The Michigan Community School Gardener Networking Meeting, fall 2009, attracted approximately 100 attendees from across Michigan and Northern Ohio. Project staff members are developing a framework that can be used to facilitate and assess network development with this group and similar efforts in Ohio and Pennsylvania. One retail outlet and one farmer was recruited in each of three rural Michigan counties for a pilot project of selling locally-grown fresh produce at convenience stores frequented by lower-income residents. Ohio connections focused on the Healthy Corner Store Initiative. The Michigan Good Food Summit (2/25/2010) provided networking opportunities for about 350 participants. Its associated web home (www.michiganfood.org) and listserv (FoodSpeak) support continued networking and facilitated development of the Michigan Good Food Charter as well as individual and organizational endorsements of the charter. USDA Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiated a networking group on the localfoodsystems.org networking site, to share ideas and resources. The group now has 35 members from across the United States. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals: Steve Bosserman, Bosserman & Associates, Inc. - Facilitation of project workshops and ongoing support to network collaborators Greg Boulos and Leah Smith, PASA, - Organization of efforts in Pennsylvania including workshops and networking pilot projects. Stan Ernst, OSU - Coordinated research on networks and specialty crop markets. Casey W. Hoy, OSU - Overall project coordination Susan Smalley, MSU - Managed pilot projects in Michigan, assisted with project evaluation and research. Anne Scott, MSU - Michigan Youth Engagement Pilot Project Megan Shoenfelt, OSU - Ohio pilot projects Ross MacDonald, OSU - Social networking curriculum development Sam Rose, Social Synergy - networking site development Partners - Primary organizations are Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Penn State University Collaborators, contacts - Numerous other organizations in the network, see localfoodsystems.org Training - see localfoodsystems.org TARGET AUDIENCES: Food system entrepreneurs, specialty crop producers, allied businesses see localfoodsystems.org PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
Localfoodsystems.org, the networking site being developed through the project, now has: -over 1000 subscribers, up from less than 200 at the beginning of the project, from across the US and abroad. -58 public working groups. -53.24 visits per day, average time/visit is 6 min 33 sec. -over 96 Ohio State University subscribers connected to local food system and specialty crop issues. -116 memberships in 5 networking groups in the Mid-Atlantic Specialty Crops Research Initiative, aiding interstate research collaboration. -Example linkages in Ohio: Youngstown (Goodness Grows), West Dayton (Shekinah Ranch), Columbus (New Harvest Cafe and Community Center), Akron/Canton (Hattie Larlham Foundation), Southern Food Systems Consortium (Alcorn State University), Athens (Leslie Schaller, ACEnet and Michelle Decker, Rural Action) Grants, proposal and associated stakeholder networks assisted by localfoodsystems.org, in networking and planning: -Mid Atlantic Specialty Crops Research Initiative (Kathleen Kelly PI, Planning Grant) -Identifying Stakeholder Needs for Establishing Urban Specialty Crops Enterprises (Parwinder Grewal, PI, Planning Grant) -Developing a Commercial Processing Industry for Edamame in the Eastern US (Carl Sams PI, Planning Grant) -Specialty Crop Microclimate Mangagement (Matt Kleinhenz PI, Proposed Planning Grant, not funded) -Making Good Food Work (Susan Smalley PI, Conference Grant) -VAPG and HUFED grants to Shagbark Seed and Mill and the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative -USDA SARE Research and Education proposal, "Garden to Cafeteria: School Food Production Guide for School Meals and Student Learning (Anne Scott, PI -pending). The Michigan based YOUTHGROW listserv, which connects youth and youth leaders engaged in sustainable and community agriculture, has grown in membership from 15 to 281 since the beginning of the grant. Through pilot projects involving neighborhood level food systems, linkages are being built between fledgling local food systems in impoverished urban areas and local school curriculum (e.g. Columbus City Schools STEM program, New Harvest Community Arts Center and Cafe, churches, government, OSU, and neighborhood associations). Similar collaborations are occurring in PA and MI. Leveraging by an additional grant to Ohio State University, from the Fund for Our Economic Future in Northeast Ohio, is developing networking tools specifically for business ecosystem planning in agriculture and organizing community investment in these business ecosystems. To date, this project has identified over 200 business ideas or cases, and is connecting this expanding network of entrepreneurs in agriculture. A Local Food Systems group formed in Ohio State University Extension has been supported and coordinated with a group in localfoodsystems.org. Michigan State University Extension's newly-created Community Food Systems Working Group and Scaling Up Local Sustainable Food Systems, a North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education professional development project, are both starting to utilize project resources in support of their ongoing educational work.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 09/01/08 to 08/31/09

Outputs
OUTPUTS: In this project, we focus on networking capacity and collaborative skills to prompt market expansion, technology commercialization, and business growth through local food systems that produce and deliver specialty crops in the Midwest. We are linking these local food systems into a robust, interstate, regional network that shares experience and learning and expedites the adoption of new technology and practices. The project social networking site, localfoodsystems.org, developed with open source code, has a new and engaging graphical interface, improved functionality, and a well-integrated set of tutorials that can now be expanded to develop networking and collaboration skills. The site provides an additional ongoing record of project activities. A protocol for extending the networking tools to other groups was developed, beginning with the Mid Atlantic Specialty Crops Research Initiative (MASCRI). Networking tools were provided to the MASCRI working groups, using the graphics on the MASCRI website but in localfoodsystems.org, connecting their working groups with larger networks. Draft metrics for assessing individual and group participation in local food systems and group collaboration skills, have been developed. The Michigan Community School Gardener Networking Meeting, November of 2009, assembled grass roots gardeners, educators and activists to (1) share best practices and expertise in developing urban agriculture, youth gardening, and food access projects (2) provide opportunities for face to face networking to build communication and resource sharing networks and (3) engage youth in discussion groups to empower them with shared knowledge. Youth from Ohio-based Toledo Grows participated in the meeting, and led a workshop session. PASA has developed a strategic plan for FarmCorps, a program to train future farmers. Connections have been made between local organizations working with youth, including the Student Conservation Association, and Round Hill Farm, run by Allegheny county. Project partners have facilitated, enhanced or provided assistance to neighborhood and municipal collaborations in Columbus, Athens, Cleveland, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Southeast Michigan, City of Detroit, Greater Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Flint. Working groups in Western PA have been re-energized through PASA sponsored meetings with various distributors, producers, and markets focused on local agricultural systems. Task forces examining access to good food, youth engagement, institutional food purchasing, farm viability and food system infrastructure were deployed in Michigan to develop situational descriptions and future recommendations. Existing reporting systems for fresh produce prices were reviewed and work was begun on a system to report from farmers markets and produce auctions, possibly providing a model for other parts of the country. Penn State and OSU researchers developed a process for evaluating and testing interaction of participants in localfoodsystems.org and control groups. Literature reviews were conducted on group interaction and social media use. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals: Casey W. Hoy, Ohio State Univ. PI, Overall project coordination, coordination of Ohio pilot projects, visibility and connection with Ohio Food Policy Advisory Council and allied efforts in Ohio. Steve Bosserman, Bosserman & Associates, Inc. co-PI, Facilitation of project workshops and ongoing support to network collaborators via online, telephone and face-to-face meetings. Greg Boulos, PASA, co-PI, Organization of efforts in Pennsylvania including workshops, networking pilot projects arising from the RFIN project, and linking with remainder of the region. Stan Ernst, Ohio State Univ. co-PI, Developed methods for pricing in specialty crop markets and surveys to evaluate network activity. Megan Shoenfelt, Ohio State Univ., Arranged project meetings, provided leadership for youth engagement pilot projects in Ohio. Ross MacDonald, Ohio State Univ., Developed curriculum for social network use and collaboration. Steve Faivre, John Deere, Provided engineering support and consulting for food system innovations. Michael W. Hamm, Michigan State University, co-PI, Supervised project activity in Michigan. Susan Smalley, Michigan State Univ. co-PI, Managed linkage between project and Michigan agricultural organizations and businesses, cooperating states, and pilot projects in Michigan. Anne Scott, Michigan State Univ., coordinated youth engagement pilot project in Michigan. Sam Rose, Social Synergy, Software and site development for localfoodsystems. org Partner Organizations: The Ohio State University Michigan State University Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture John Deere Social Synergy Penn State University Collaborators: Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative Kathy Brasier, Penn State University, Collaboration on network and business development research C. Clare Hinrichs, Penn State University, Collaboration on network and business development research, and Pennsylvania food system networking John F. Reid, John Deere, Supervised John Deere contribution of staff expertise in advanced marketing, advanced technology, information and management systems, and collaborative business processes. Subscribers and participants in localfoodsystems.org TARGET AUDIENCES: Food system innovators and entrepreneurs throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Impacts
The project has resulted in a group-focused web/internet medium that is intuitive, findable, usable, and shareable, and has now attracted over 600 subscribers from across the region and around the world. See localfoodsystems.org. During 2009, the number of subscribers increased from 290 to 594 (205%), along with steady expansion to 56 working groups. The site was viewed over 65,000 times, averaging over 175 readings per day. The postings on the site are connecting individuals and organizations to build local and regional economies around innovation in food systems, also known as geographic innovation clusters. Localfoodsystems.org has contributed to planning and collaboration on additional SCRI project proposals including urban specialty crop production (the Urban Landscape Ecology Program Collaboration Forum), MASCRI (noted above), two additional planning grants, and a SARE Youth Educator Grant intended to increase networking technology capabilities of youth across the MI, OH, and PA region. Learning from this project has helped to shape a forthcoming Michigan Good Food Conference (planned for February 2010). A few representative examples of groups whose local food system business efforts were advanced by the project are: the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative in Athens OH, which gained considerable momentum, advice, network connections and financial resources through networking and collaboration on localfoodsystems.org and other networking sites; the New Harvest Cafe and Community Center in Columbus OH, which is developing a neighborhood level food system in an urban neighborhood; a new Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter in Fayette County in Fayette County, PA. The project has been leveraged with an additional $250,000 grant from the Fund for Our Economic Future, which builds further networking and business development in Northeast Ohio.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period