We work with rural communities to build healthy, sustainable, local food systems. Our goal is to create food production and distribution systems that provide affordable fresh food for all, protect the environment, and keep money circulating in the local economy.
Food is a central part of all of our lives. Where our food comes from matters - for our health, for the vitality of our communities, for our wallets, and for the environment.
Community food systems take many forms, but they all have the same purpose: to connect the local people who grow and make food with the local people who eat it. At the Center for Rural Affairs, we work on several different ways to connect farmers and consumers.
Farmers Markets are great for communities. They connect growers and customers in a healthy, sustainable food system. They keep food dollars circulating in the local economy. Farmers markets encourage commerce in town and increase sales at nearby businesses while building customers' sense of belonging and attachment to the community.
- The South Sioux Farmers Market began in 2012 through a partnership between CFRA and the city of South Sioux City.
- The Santee Farmers Market opened in 2012 as part of the Santee Garden and Market Project.
Gardens provide fresh, affordable food. They also provide opportunities for family fun and exercise, community building, and entrepreneurship. Our garden projects provide participants with garden plots, organic production training, and hands-on growing assistance.
Success comes at all levels. New gardeners can grow their first harvests, which help lower the family grocery bill and provide fresh fruits and vegetables that too often aren't available in stores. Experienced farmers can turn their gardens into small businesses, selling produce at farmers markets and to local stores and institutions.
- The Siouxland Community Garden was founded in 2010, and serves a largely Hispanic community in South Sioux City, NE. Several community gardeners now sell at the South Sioux Farmers Market.
- The Santee Garden and Market Project focuses on training new gardeners to grow their own fresh, healthy food, and on building market garden entrepreneurship opportunities.
Farm to School is a nationwide movement to bring more local food into school cafeterias and teach children about where their food comes from. For most Farm to School programs, the primary goal is to get the cafeteria purchasing, preparing, and serving locally-produced items. Going further, Farm to School programs can bring food into classrooms and bring students out to farms, teaching the next generation about the importance of good food and local farms.
For more information on Farm to School programs nationwide, check out the National Farm to School Network.