Community Food Systems and Civic Agriculture

Farmers Market

A community food system is one in which "food production, processing, distribution and consumption are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place." From Discovering the Food System: A Primer on Community Food Systems, Cornell University.

Mailboxes, Mom and Pop Stands, and Markets: Local Foods Then and Now

USDA. National Agricultural Library.

The National Agricultural Library's digital exhibit showcases the library’s numerous historical and current resources that detail how food travels from farm to table. It comprises three main sections: a review of the “Farm-to-Table” movement of the early 1900s, a survey of roadside stands and farmers markets, and a list of current USDA local food initiatives.

Boy and girl eating apples with their teacher. Farm to School: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography

USDA. NAL. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center.

This bibliography documents existing research and resources on Farm to School and Farm to Institution efforts around the Nation. Our knowledge about Farm to School may foster future research that will eventually facilitate the growth of sustainable food production and local food consumption.

Father and son preparing fresh foods. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

United States Department of Agriculture.

A USDA initiative to promote sustainable local and regional food systems that will support small and mid-sized farms and ranches, strengthen rural communities, promote healthy eating, and protect our natural resources.

Community and Local Food Systems

University of Minnesota Extension Service.

"Demand for local food in rural communities is growing. Sustainable local food systems need to have strong community support to build and maintain the infrastructure needed to bring food from farm to fork. This website provides resources to support rural communities just beginning to build their community food systems as well as those whose local food systems are already strong."

Community Food Systems

USDA. NAL. Food and Nutrition Information Center.

This resource list provides information on how establishing community food systems meets daily food and nutrition needs, helps the local economy, supports local farmers, and promotes a sustainable, local food system.

Local Harvest

Local Harvest.

Connects consumers with sources of sustainably grown, local food.

Farmers Markets and Direct-to-Consumer Marketing

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

Links to local foods topical publications and presentations, including those on direct-to-consumer marketing. AMS works to improve market access for operators of small and medium-size farms.

Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress

USDA. Economic Research Service.

"This report provides an overview of local and regional food systems across several dimensions. It details the latest economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature to assess the current size of and recent trends in local and regional food systems."

The Role of Local Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy (PDF | 950 KB)

U.S. Congressional Research Service

Provides background information and data on local and regional food systems; "highlights available resources within existing federal programs...that may be applied to support local food systems;" describes related initiatives of the Obama Administration; and discusses legislative options and proposals related to local and regional food systems, as part of the 2012 farm bill process.

Marketing and Food Systems Initiative

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Focuses on local foods topics. Provides access to research, reports, publications, presentations, and media that address farmer profitability; food miles and food pathways; supply networks; economic impacts; market research; farm to institution; food, health and climate change; food system assessments; and place-based food and viticulture.

Local and Regional Food Systems

ATTRA. National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

Offers resources and tools about local foods; urban and community agriculture; local marketing, processing, and distribution; farm start-up; and policy and food access. Identifies programs and projects that focus on local foods. Includes Local Food Resources, a directory of programs, resources and contacts; and the Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions guide to programs.

Community Food System Bibliographies

University of California at Davis. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

This bibliography and update are guides to published literature (2000-2013) on local and regional food systems.

Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues (PDF | 1.48 mb)

USDA. Economic Research Service.

"Explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems." (Economic Research Report no. ERR-97. May 2010)

Local Food-Perceptions, Prospects, and Policies

Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

Choices magazine features seven papers that "help clarify perceptions about local foods, prospects for growth in their supply and demand, and policy issues affecting the development of local food systems." (v. 25 no. 1 Oct. 2010).

Reading Rooms: Local Food Systems

University of Arkansas. National Agricultural Law Center.

Site includes Congressional reports, agency listings, Center reports and references to statutes, case law and other government information pertinent to local food systems. Links to related U.S. government and other publications and resources.

A Primer on Community Food Systems: Linking Food, Nutrition and Agriculture (PDF | 133 KB)

Cornell University. Division of Nutritional Sciences. Discovering the Food System.

Provides a general overview of community food systems as well as the goals, elements, and actions necessary to support and strengthen the system.

Food Circles Networking Project

University of Missouri. Food Circles Networking Project.

Missouri-based project includes many general resources including the group's A Vision of a Localized Food System and reports, charts and presentations that document the consolidation of food and agriculture corporations.

Agriculture, Food and Community Development Program

Cornell University. Community and Rural Development Institute.

Tools and data from a research, teaching and extension program dedicated to strengthening communities and supporting local agriculture.

Community Food Security Coalition

Community Food Security Coalition.

Non-profit North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems. Guidebooks, news, reports and links.

Community Food Systems Bibliography

University of California at Davis. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

Bibliographic guide to resources pertaining to community food systems research. Originally from Community Food Systems in California: Profiles of 13 Collaborations.



Canadian organization that focuses on food security and community food system advocacy and education.

Food Miles: Background and Marketing

National Center for Appropriate Technology. ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

This publication addresses how food miles are calculated, investigates how food miles affect producers and consumers, and evaluates methods for curbing the energy intensiveness of our food transportation system.

Community Food Security Learning Center


Provides an introduction, program profiles, policy initiatives and ways to get involved with links to Web and print resources, related articles and connections to government programs. A glossary and frequently asked questions cover community supported agriculture, community gardens, farmers' markets, local and regional food systems, farm to cafeteria, community food assessment and food policy councils.