11 Easy Local Food Movement Ideas

Eric J Garrett

September 15, 2022

Eric Garrett

The local food movement had roots in the Second World War when the Victory Gardens planted 200,000 vegetable gardens around the world to feed the displaced population. This movement is also closely connected to the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s and the health food movement of the 1970s and 1980s. These movements challenged the health value of the food products manufactured by big food corporations and sold in supermarkets. 

Challenges of the local food movement

There are many challenges with the local food movement. One of them is that people from the same geographic area don’t always have the same interests, power, or representation. This means that local movements often have secret plans and don’t serve the community’s best interests. However, local movements are a hopeful development in the fight against hunger.

The local food movement has grown in popularity over the past few years. The success of this movement has spurred the creation of several local food systems, including community-supported agriculture programs and direct-to-consumer markets. In recent years, these systems have expanded to larger areas. Farmers’ markets, for instance, have seen exponential growth – from seven hundred fifty-five markets in 1994 to eight thousand in 2014, with a total annual sales of $1 billion.

Creating a community garden requires planning and resources. You need a space that can provide a healthy environment for people to work in, easy access to water, and protection from pests. Some communities choose to work with local food and agriculture organizations with extensive experience and resources to support their efforts.

Community gardens

Community gardens are a great way to combat the problem of urban food deserts, communities of lower income with few healthy food choices. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 39.5 million people live in food deserts. A garden in your community is an excellent way to provide healthier food to the neighborhood and help your community develop.

Another challenge to the local food movement is that it is often difficult to find reliable, accurate information about local farms and food systems. However, there are many ways to gather information about local farms and food systems and understand the role of local food systems better. The Local Food Research Center, which is part of the ASAP, helps to fill this information gap.

Some cities do not support community gardens, and they face zoning restrictions. In Raleigh, for example, the city has adopted urban agriculture regulations, including community gardens. This ordinance was implemented in 2013 as part of a zoning code intended to protect public health and welfare. But many people consider this ordinance prohibitive.

A recent study evaluated the impact of community gardens on volunteers. Participants were asked about their motivation to work in a community garden and their sense of community. The findings were based on interviews and mailed surveys. Out of 72 volunteers, 48 responded to an in-depth interview. Ten participants declined to participate. The survey results also included community partners, funders, and volunteers. Almost 80% of participants returned the survey within two weeks.

Growing food in schools

Growing food in schools can be an effective way to promote local food. It’s also an effective way to connect food to nutrition lessons in the classroom. For example, teachers can use classroom gardens and taste tests to encourage students to eat more locally grown foods. In addition, the school food service staff can promote local food by featuring local farmers on the school menu or through an event like the Harvest of the Month. Students can also get involved in gardening by planning a field trip to a local farm.

Farm-to-school initiatives are gaining popularity across the country, especially in urban areas. In Ontario, one program called Tasty Ontario Tuesdays provides local produce to 150 public schools. The Ministry of Agriculture, the Government of Ontario, and Foodland Ontario support the program. The program has many educational, environmental, and economic benefits. In addition, growing food in schools is a proven approach already working in other areas.

FoodCorps, a program of AmeriCorps service members, is a great way to engage schools in the movement. FoodCorps members work on three pillars: encouraging schools to buy local food, educating students about nutrition, and building school gardens.