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Program Post: Research Center’s Busy, Busy, Busy!

Introducing our new weekly feature: Program Post! At From Here, you often read about an event organized by one of our programs (like our Growing Minds Farm to School Program) or hear about a program’s reports or publications. But, we want you to know even more of what happens at ASAP. Each week through this feature, our programs will take you behind the scenes of their work. We hope you get a greater idea about what we’re up to, get inspired about local food, ask questions, and more!

From the Local Food Research Center

ASAP’s Local Food Research Center team will tackle a variety of projects this February. The first item on our list includes a series of interviews with area farmers and food businesses. Leaving our cozy office cubicles, we’ll venture into the community to discover what makes our local food and farm economy tick! We want to understand how farmers navigate WNC’s local food system, so we’ll ask them questions about their farming practices, their business and marketing strategies, and their relationships with buyers, other farmers, and you, their customers. To get a fuller picture, we’ll also interview food buyers from local grocery stores and restaurants. We’ll ask them what they think about food from local farms, the obstacles they face when trying to source local, what types of interactions they have with the local farm community, and what they perceive their customers want and value in local food.

Next on our agenda are two year-long consulting projects. In 2012, the center had the pleasure of helping communities in South Carolina and North Carolina evaluate and develop their local food campaigns; this year, we’ll expand our reach and take on new challenges facing communities outside of the Carolinas. The Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board in New York has asked for our guidance in developing a local food branding program and media marketing guide. In Georgia, we’ll work with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission to bring together stakeholders and community members to assess the capacity for local food and farm expansion in 34 North Georgia counties. Go NY and GA! It’s going to be a BIG year for local food research, and if our February activities are any indication, you’ll want to stay tuned for some interesting discoveries…

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