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2009 Distribution Feasibility Study
Interest in locally grown food has increased tremendously nationwide over the lastdecade. However, the dominant system of food distribution is still structured with little emphasis on distributing it close to where it was grown or adapting to the needs of small to mid-sized farms. The goal of this project was to identify ways to help small farms in southern and central Indiana market and distribute their products more effectively and to make it easier for businesses, individuals, and large institutions like schools and hospitals to source locally grown food.
The project was conducted by the Local Growers Guild (LGG), a cooperative of growers in south central Indiana, with assistance from Green Fire Consulting, LLC. The focus of the LGG is expanding the availability of quality locally grown foods. We connect growers with buyers, educate consumers about the importance of eating locally and provide growers with business support. Our members consist of small to medium farms producing a diversity of specialty crops such as organic and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables, meats from grass-fed livestock, maple syrup, honey, herbs and flowers.
This year-long project consisted of:
• Studying distribution systems in other communities that might serve as models for developing and expanding the local food distribution system in South Central Indiana (within a 100-mile radius of Bloomington with a focus specifically on Bloomington).
• Surveying small to medium-sized farms in South Central Indiana to learn about current marketing and distribution strategies, interest in particular distribution approaches, current production levels, interest in expansion, perceived obstacles for expansion, and desired assistance.
• Surveying potential buyers such as wholesalers, restaurant owners, small grocery produce buyers, and institutional food service directors to understand their interest and willingness to buy from local farmers, what opportunities exist currently for local growers, and what hurdles need to be overcome for a significant expansion of local production and sales.
• Identifying resources in the community that would support expansion of local food production and distribution, especially with regard to improved storage and transportation of local products.
• Developing recommendations for the Local Growers Guild (LGG) to pursue in order to improve local food distribution.