Guide to Planning Local Food Systems

As more Americans seek access to local food, guidance for navigating local legislation and policies becomes more important.

| June/July 2018

  • Getty Images/KenWiedemann
    An entire community can benefit from supporting local food systems.
    Photo by

  • Getty Images/KenWiedemann

Many communities find it challenging to navigate the legislation and policies to better support their local food economies. The American Farmland Trust has released a comprehensive guide designed to help communities improve their access to local food, from growing to buying and selling. Called “Growing Local: A Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems,” this guide illustrates ways that cities can improve their food systems through policy changes, long-term planning, and public investment.

Building on a previous project (Growing Food Connections), this new guide provides a more comprehensive overview of issues within food systems, and shares the best principles and practices for improving them. To date, the guide includes the most comprehensive collection of local policies related to managing farms and ranches, improving access to healthy food, and improving urban infrastructure for food delivery.

Taking into consideration that a single approach to food sovereignty won’t work in the real world, this guide highlights numerous creative strategies that communities can use to reach their goals. At the heart of the guide is an “Implementation Toolbox” with practical guidance for assessing the available policy tools for community-wide progress.

Everyone with an interest in food systems can benefit from this guide, including farmers, food policy proponents, local planners, government officials, and general community members. From advice for more effective civic engagement to strategies for better goal-setting in the community, this guide strives to provide practical inspiration for growing the economy and improving the health of communities everywhere.








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