Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Northern New York
(CCE Region 8: Lewis, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton and Essex Counties)
Northern New York Regional Local Foods Initiative
The Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Northern New York have been working regionally on a series of local / regional foods projects over the past few years. Among the projects have been:
- A New York Farm Viability-funded project entitled “New Strategies for North Country Farm Profitability” (March 2006-May, 2008), the goals of which were to increase the capacity of producers of “alternative agricultural products” in Northern New York and to enhance the profitability and sustainability of these alternative agricultural enterprises.
- A collaborative project with CaRDI, using Economic Development Act funding entitled “North Country Regional Food Initiative,” the goals of which were to:
- Measure the economic and community impacts of local food initiatives in the North Country
- Link Cooperative Extension, non-governmental organizations and farmer-based groups currently working on direct marketing approaches to farm sales
- Share these impacts, strengths, and barriers with local government officials, economic developers and community leaders across the region
- Identify training needs and offer educational opportunities
- Explore possibilities for a regional structure and funding to support it.
- Expansion of Adirondack Harvest and funding from the Spaulding Paolozzi Foundation to increase accessibility of locally produced foods across the Northern NY Adirondack region in 2007, the goals of which are expand the participation of farmers, restaurants and retail stores in the active promotion of use and consumption of local foods.
- A series of local foods conferences in the region over the past few years, culminating with the Local Foods III conference (“The Role of Local Foods in Community Economic Development”) in Tupper Lake in April, 2008; and Local Foods IV, “Challenges and Opportunities for North Country Agriculture,” replicated in three locations across Northern New York in May. The broad goals of both programs were to bring together people from all sectors of our communities (including but not limited to: producers, chefs/restaurant owners, market managers, economic developers and CCE nutrition/ag educators) to focus on increasing the production, consumption and community impact of locally produced foods.
- A summer 2008 project using faculty support and a CALS-funded intern to conduct “rapid market assessments” in as many of the 40 identified Farmers Markets in the Northern New York region, in an attempt to further quantify and project the economic impact of the production and sale of foods within the local region.
The Proposed Project
The CCE Associations in the North Country region have been provided access to special funding made available through the Director of Extension to further develop the regional agriculture programming focus of the past three years.
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This proposed three-year project will develop a six county and campus collaborative model for measuring and tracking the impacts of local food systems and, based on that information, develop educational programs and materials to support further development and expansion of local food systems in Northern NY. This project will build on the above-cited projects completed previously, and may also utilize and apply regionally the Local Agriculture Viability Index (LAVI) currently being piloted in the North Country by Lewis County and the Cornell College of Human Ecology’s Food Decision-Making Program. This project will address strategic goals of CCE Initiatives including Applied Research and Extension Priorities in Agriculture and Food Systems Sustainability and Community Economic Vitality. As well it relates to CSREES identified objectives: To improve access to an affordable, healthful, and culturally relevant food supply (2.1); and, To increase the capacity of communities and families to enhance their own economic well-being, (5.1) to improve their own quality of life by helping people to think differently about food, eating and the interrelationships of the food system (5.2).
The project as proposed will:
- Continue and expand on the progress of previous projects designed to increase the profitability and vitality of the region’s farms and farming through expansion of the production of crops/foods for local consumption,
- Strengthen the connection between NNY consumers and the food system by utilizing the framework of the Food Decision-Making Program and
- Compliment current programs being offered in other areas of CCE such as 4-H/Youth Development’s Food, Land and People Curriculum.
The primary purpose of this project is to provide research-based extension education that will result in the expansion of production and consumption of local foods in Northern New York.
A second purpose is to strengthen the understanding of how the food and agriculture system impacts public health, environmental sustainability, and community well-being as reflected in the goal of the Cornell Food Decision-Making Program: “…appreciating local foods may involve recognition of the benefits to local food producers and to the economy by keeping the food dollar within their community. Maximizing availability, accessibility and appreciation may have important benefits to the individual, family and community. The individual may improve health, the family may adopt healthier eating practices, and the community may gain economic and ecological benefits.” (http://familyfood.human.cornell.edu/goals.html).
Utilizing an established regional team of county agricultural and t educators, this project will enable help Extension staff to implement effective local foods programs, to understand and identify key indicators of successful programs, and to develop a toolkit designed to support multi-county assessments of ‘local’ foods initiatives, including indicators, future roles for Extension staff, and tested applications for innovative program delivery.
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Measurable Products & Outcomes
- A needs assessment that identifies issues those issues which are most important to address through education, demonstration and research.
- A toolkit that Extension educators can use to identify and track local food impact indicators.
- An enhanced and expanded local food system, in the North Country through educational programs designed to support increased accessibility, appreciation and availability of local food to consumers.
- The general public has a greater understanding of foods that are available to them locally, the benefits of locally produced food (i.e. taste, freshness, nutrition, health, local economic impact etc.) as well as how to incorporate these products into their meals at homes, in restaurants and at school.
- Increasing numbers of producers, stores restaurants, schools and other organizations and businesses become active participants in the North Country local foods system and profit from the growing demand for locally produced food from local NNY consumers as well as visitors to the Adirondack North Country Region.
- A multi-county – campus model for collaboration.
In order to coordinate and implement the activities identified in this proposal, a half-time Extension Resource Educator will be retained. Her primary responsibility will be for educational program development and delivery, and her secondary responsibility will be for coordination of regional local foods educational programs. She will be responsible for implementation of the project, with specific responsibilities as detailed in the Position Description for this project (available upon request).
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