Local food systems have many benefits for farmers, consumers and communities. Illinois is home to a vibrant local and regional food community. A local food community is about a food system in your community and telling that story. It’s about cross-collaboration, connectivity, and working together to create food access and economic growth.
Local food systems give the consumer information about where and how food was grown. When consumers interact with a farmer, grow their own food, or visit a farm, they learn more about how food gets to their plate. Within the local food system there are different ways people build communities through different avenues including things like CSA’s or farmers markets or cooperative grocery stores. But we also see communities building through regional food councils, partnered directories, and joint communication. It is a chance to support and promote different food business within the defined “local community.”
Local food is not just farmers, but the entire food supply chain. The idea is to reduce the distance the supply chain travel by keeping the products grown in a specific area near there through processing and distribution phases. For example, it could mean buying an apple grown in southern Illinois in the local grocery store 100 miles from the farm. This means there was less trucking, transportation, and the businesses remain within the community. Through reducing the supply chain, more income is generated in the community; the number of businesses touching the product is reduced; the product is harvested and packaged at a fresher stage. It is a cycle that helps improve the entire community in more ways than one.
Partners in Preserving Local Food and Farm Businesses
ConnectFresh Collaborative is a collaborative community of Illinois organizations that support MarketMaker and lift-up local businesses on their own digital platforms. Use of this data on their websites adds membership value to these organizations. Collaborative partners include Illinois MarketMaker, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Specialty Growers Association, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Farmer Veteran Coalition, Illinois Farmers Market Association, and Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois.
lllinois Specialty Growers Association
Illinois Specialty Growers Association (ISGA) is an allied member of United Fresh Produce, a National Organization representing the produce industry. Founded in 1989, ISGA is a non-profit membership organization supporting and advocating the promotion, research, and education efforts within the specialty crop industry.
Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Specialty Growers Association work together to promote and develop the Illinois specialty crop industry. Through their leadership and with the support of specialty farmers, they establish a united voice that ensures the success of the industry and creates a more sustainable market for specialty crops. ISGA also strives to improve market opportunities and production quality for specialty crops grown in Illinois.
Join over 3,600 established specialty crop farms utilizing more than 81,250 acres to produce over 472 million dollars in sales annually within Illinois. Visit www.specialtygrowers.org to learn more or join today.
What is Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois?
Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Specialty Growers Association, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and 9 other farm and food organizations around the state are working to create a statewide branding and marketing program named Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois. Together they work build a vibrant, resilient local food economy across the state by promoting local food and providing the highest level of transparency and transparency to the public. This program hosts a shared directory on their website through MarketMaker. Farms and food businesses profiles show across platforms like Prairie Bounty and Buy Fresh Buy Local while require the business to maintain one profile. For more information visit https://buyfreshbuylocal.org/illinois/.