by Gail Feenstra, David Campbell and Ildi Carlisle-Cummins
Given growing public interest and increasing requests for extension service guidance on community and local food systems, we identified a need 1) to collect and categorize existing research on the topic, and 2) to comb the research for common principles that extension advisors and others might draw on to help deepen the impact of community food systems projects. In this session, we present a case study in progress that creates/informs a learning community among the growing network of local and regional food systems practitioners and researchers.
The tool around which our case develops is a Community Food Systems bibliography, designed to help researchers, extension specialists and practitioners strengthen their dialogue. Available online, the bibliography categorizes over 2,000 articles published since 2000 into topical groupings of interest (e.g. farmers’ markets, food policy councils, urban gardens). Initially developed with the aim of informing graduate student research, we have begun exploring ways to use the tool in other venues. Our team has conducted some preliminary outreach at practitioner-focused conferences, through social media channels, and using eXtension. We have also published, in a practitioner-oriented journal, a preliminary analysis of this bibliography (Campbell, Carlisle-Cummins, and Feenstra 2013) which identifies three persistent strategic challenges facing community food system practitioners: 1) an economic challenge of finding price points that work for farmers and low-income-consumers and workers; 2) a social challenge to confront racial and class bias while forging practical solutions, and 3) a political challenge of reconciling “insider” and “outsider” strategies for achieving goals.
We will engage eXtension workshop attendees in a discussion about the case, the tool, and the outreach methods we have employed, with an eye toward developing ideas for the next phase of this work.
24th–27th March 2014