Local Food Systems
Work in this area was encouraged and instigated by clientele. In 2006, market managers from regional farmers' markets asked us to facilitate and lead a Farmers' Market Promotion program grant (USDA-FMPP). The grant was approved and provided resources for our group in collaboration with clientele to conduct a state-wide farmers' market managers and vendors conference with focus on manager training. The grant provided funding to study several farmers' markets in the state with some focus on the NWA region. As a result of this grant, the NWA Farmers' Market Alliance was created to enhance collaborations among the participant farmers' markets in a four county region. Again, in 2010, we received funding from the USDA-FMPP to expand the use of SNAP debit systems at local markets and develop multilingual market promotional information.
In this project area we are initiating work on describing the Arkansas Foodshed using GIS technologies to identify the food security issues faced in Arkansas, and the potentials and opportunities for producing and local marketing of foods.