Catalyzing Agricultural and Educational Resources to Move the Local Food Value Chain Needle in the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont Regions of Virginia
The Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont Regions of Virginia are fortunate to have agricultural, cultural, and educational resources to catalyze and strengthen Virginia’s food system from farm-to-table. Despite growing demand and support for local food systems, barriers to sustainable success remain for farmers and food businesses, including limited or unwieldy value chain coordination, logistical hurdles, lack of transparent market signals, and inadequate scale, match and fit between producers and buyers.
This project seeks to increase promotion of local and regional foods produced and marketed by small and mid-sized farms and food businesses, such as produce auctions, farm stands/markets, aggregators, and distributors, with shared goals of improved market share and economic health of communities.
In the past, this team has helped make possible: a Farm2Fork Affair and ongoing producer-buyer networking, Virginia Market Readiness Farm to Restaurant Workshops, On-farm Food Safety Walkthroughs, exploring a Soil Health Awareness/Action Campaign, and expanding the scope of the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters in coordination with Virginia Market Maker.
In all, this project aims to:
- Increase promotion of small and mid-sized farms and food businesses to appropriate market channels
- Advance producer-buyer relationships through directed promotion, educational training, concentrated vetting, and networking activities specific to scale
- Enhance the distribution and delivery of local foods from farm to schools across the region
- Measure potential for market differentiation based on soil health and water quality farming practices
- Evaluate gains in market access, share, and logistics of regional value chain coordination.
Project partners include: Virginia Tech’s (VT) Community, Local, and Regional Food Systems (CLRFS) Team, the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition (VBFRC), Virginia Fresh Produce Food Safety Team, the Agua Fund Inc., Virginia USDA-NRCS, Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction, Shenandoah Food, Wadel’s Farm Wagon, The Local Food Hub, and Future Harvest-Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (FH-CASA).
This project is funded by the USDA-Agricultural Marketing Services’ 2018 Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP)
For more information, contact Eric Bendfeldt