Local Food is
now a Booming
The organic growing fields at Creekside Farm
The farm to table movement has changed restaurant menu's around the world.
Local food is a booming business now. There are now almost 9000 farmers markets across the United States. That's up from roughly 1700 just two decades ago. Local food sales grew in the US from $5 billion in 2008 to over $12 billion in 2014, more than doubling in just six years. Sales are projected to hit $20 billion by 2019. The National Restaurant Association has reported that 68 percent of consumers would be more likely to eat at a restaurant that offers locally sourced and produced food. A survey of professional chefs found that locally sourced meat, fish and produce, tied to environmental sustainability, were the top “menu trends” in 2016. Millennials are a key driving force in this local, healthy food movement. They prefer spending their money on experiences, like dining out, rather than on just buying stuff, and they typically dine out 3-4 times a week.
Local food strengthens the overall local economy as money circulates several more times through the community rather than going straight off to some corporate headquarters. The farmer earns about 10 cents of the retail value of food sold across America. Selling more food directly through local channels allows more of the food dollars to go to the farm and farmer. That money than circulates through the community several more times building the economic strength of the entire region.
The importance of CSA Programs
Harvesting micro-greens at Creekside Farm
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a newer trend, and there are now thousands of them operating around the world. In a CSA, people buy a “share” from a farmer at the beginning of the season and pick up a box of fresh, organic vegetables from the farm or a pick-up location every week. Members and farmers freely tie their fates together, as the members support the financial needs of the farmer, and the farmer grows the healthy food for the members.
CSA’s are thriving around the world in countries as diverse as the United States, Japan, France, China and India. People everywhere are forming communities around locally grown food. Community Supported Agriculture is called by many names around the world, including Teikei, AMAP, Reciproco, and ASC. And while the names may be different, the essence of the programs are the same; people pay a farmer to farm food for them directly, and they share the risks and the bounty of the farm. The outcome is also the same; these programs help small farmers make a living in a world of corporate food giants and a global economy.
The newest trend in local food- The Agrihood
Connecting People with the Land
The agricultural neighborhood, or “agrihood,” is a new concept in urban design where an organic farm and agriculture are built right into the community as a central feature and amenity. And for the people who want to reconnect to the farm and the bucolic lifestyle that it represents, this newest trend, the agricultural community, is a way to help them to do just that: plug in instantly. Most importantly, it's all about protecting and preserving farm land and farming capacity in a region. It’s about mindful development. Justifiable development. It’s about convincing developers and land planners to save some farm land and the food producing capacity of a place as a desirable amenity. Otherwise land get's developed in its entirety with no consideration of the possible amenity of farming and local food production.
The agricultural community promises fresh air, pastoral views of beautiful rolling farm land, a connection to nature and to where our food comes from, a clean and healthy environment, and fresh, healthy organic food. Most importantly, it offers closer connections to the environment and a more sustainable food web. If that’s not your thing, then you probably wouldn’t want to live there.
A true agricultural community has a working farm at its center, with all the activities related to organic farming going on in real time in and around the community for all to see and partake in, if they wish. Real farmers do all the hard work, but residents are welcome to help out in the vegetable gardens for exercise and enjoyment. Or they can just walk down to the garden to sit and chat with neighbors or the farmer for a while. It’s entirely up to them.
But it’s the newest trend in urban planning and design because it’s the natural progression of a much larger food trend happening in America. It’s the other half of the health and wellness equation that most wellness communities are missing—the food. Total wellness is about a healthy diet and exercise, not just the exercise. The agrihood offers numerous opportunities for neighbors to get together to share and celebrate the bounty of the harvest, such as cooking and canning classes, farm to table dinner events, and a Fall Harvest Festival.
Above: Old time music at a farm to table dinner.
Below: Tables set for dinner at the Ed Center.
The agrihood at Creekside Farm at Walnut Cove, and farm to table events at the Creekside Farm Education Center, in Arden, NC.