Rebuilding more robust local food systems, wealthier communities and healthier people with foodshed redevelopment.
The BL Lab can assist in planning for a more sustainable, resilient and healthy community by promoting the development of local agriculture and food systems. Using a data-driven approach to assess needs and opportunities to develop in a given foodshed, the BL Lab will identify specific strategies to engage in “economic gardening” and grow economic activity locally. Foodshed strategies offer the rare opportunity to generate economic development and community development while at the same time create quality of place. We’ll help you survey the field of your foodshed potential and adapt the best strategies to cultivate success in the 21st century’s agriculture economy.
Foodshed development can play a catalytic role in the realization of the social, economic and environmental positives an empowered local food system provides. Foodshed development produces jobs, creates new businesses, bolsters existing businesses and can bring local food products of all kinds to market. Robust foodshed development strategies can repurpose buildings, reinvigorate community events and elevate a community’s quality of place. Many of today’s thriving farmers markets started small and humble, only to grow into major forces of community and commercial revitalization.
By concentrating activity and energy, even simple farmers markets can lead to the construction of new sidewalks and pedestrian infrastructure, parking and transit improvements as well as dedicated plazas. Food is one of the most primary motivators in the human experience and also a powerful prescription for placemaking. People will drive hundreds of miles for a piece of pizza or pile into unsightly neighborhood dives if the food is excellent. Because food drives people to places, it’s a potent placemaker with transformational potential that can stack with other craft & cottage industry, local commerce and community events.
Foodshed development can play an important role in the cultural re-enrichment of a community, giving new meaning to community events and harvest festivals—and cultivating new opportunities for the community to share a local product, a common experience and perhaps a memorable moment.
As an “economic gardening” strategy, foodshed development does not seek to attract outside investment in favor of homegrown economic development. Across the spectrum that exists between farm and table, there is ample opportunity to encourage latent agricultural potential into real economic development. And because of the unique condition of each local foodshed, foodshed development strategies must be tailor-made for each community.
The best strategies are successful because they are designed to integrate into the fabric of the community and engage the market-oriented systems already in place. All key stakeholders and, often, the community must be engaged to determine strategies best fit to a particular foodshed—and certainly to determine the viability of any foodshed development project, such as farmers markets, processing facilities, commercial kitchens, incubators, community farms/gardens or development amenities like hobby farms or farming hamlets (as alternatives to more traditional development anchors, e.g. golf courses, agri-culinary tourist destinations).
The BL Lab’s Foodshed Analysis draws from more traditional cluster and laborshed analysis. It provides the robust analytics and factual detail necessary for local decision makers to make informed judgments and develop realistic plans to support or expand foodsheds, including:
- • Defining and characterizing the foodshed, with consideration to climate, ecology, current and historic crop potential, economic geography, land use, effective density, and proximate demand centers.
- • Inventorying the foodshed’s existing agriculture and agribusiness assets.
- • Mapping the foodshed’s many assets.
- • Profiling the foodshed, integrating multiple data layers to generate a completely interactive infographic for a “bird’s eye view” of the foodshed and its region.
- • Stakeholder engagement to gauge latent agricultural capacity and consumer demand.
- • Community engagement to inform, educate and/or engage the public, raise awareness, and to generate lasting interest, participation and commitment in new foodshed initiatives.
Facility Feasibility StudiesNearly 2 million people work in an extremely diverse food and beverage manufacturing industry in the United States, growing in recent years more than double GDP.
The BL Lab can thoroughly analyze the components of the “to build or not to build” threshold question, including “who” will build and operate the facility, “what” type of facility should be built and with what specific services and features, “when” should it be built (now, later, in phases) as well as “when” it should be operated (year-round or seasonally), “where” it should be built, “how” it should be operated, and finally “how much” it will cost.
Not every community needs the same size commercial kitchen, food innovation center, value-added processing facility or other food production space. The BL Lab can help you match the scale and operations of each facility to the scale and needs of the community, with careful consideration to the suitable location of a potential facility to find the best fit and position the facility for successful function within the existing food system.
Considerations in these analyses include:
- • Demographics
- • Market analysis
- • Demand analysis
- • Location analysis
- • Competitive analysis
- • For-profit, non-profit, institutional, hybrid models
- • Incentives, funding and grants
- • Public private partnerships
- • Small business development
- • Workforce development
Contact the BL Lab to schedule an introductory conversation about how foodshed development can raise the productivity of your land and grow your local economy.
See the BL Lab's similar Food De-Desertification Strategies >>
Explore the complications and opportunities of Golf Course Redevelopment >>
Learn about the BL Lab's overall Greenfield & Healthfield Strategies >>
Growth in the number of Farmers Markets in the U.S. 1994-2017
Work with the BL Lab to re-imagine your field of options:
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