Virginia’s overall food system directly impacts the survival and viability of farms and farmland, the economic development of rural and urban communities, the care, restoration and resilience of ecological resources, and critical health issues. Therefore, the promotion of healthy farms and healthy food from the farm to the table can have a positive impact on the common wealth and common good of Virginia’s economy, food system, and communities.
Public interest in looking at the food system more comprehensively and holistically has increased nationally and has been a central conversation in many communities throughout Virginia. Michael Hamm of Michigan State University (2009) states a healthy food system that is vibrant, regenerative and growing is predicated on having farming operations of diverse scales and production methods.
However, no matter the scale of the operation, one strategy identified for addressing the complex and evolving issues and challenges facing agriculture is to encouraging the development of more locally-integrated community-based food systems. The development and enhancement of these community-focused food systems across Virginia can aid community economies, enhance ecological resources, improve nutritional status and health, and increase food availability and accessibility.
There will always be the need for global and international trade of commodities and food products to serve Virginia’s diverse agricultural industry, but Virginia can also focus more work on a local, regional and state-wide basis to emphasize and encourage the development of more locally-integrated community-based food systems to enhance the economic, social, environmental and nutritional health and resilience of communities and localities across the Commonwealth. Virginia Farm to Table discussion and educational resources will focus on this specific strategy and these scales of production and market development opportunities moving forward for the common wealth and common good of all Virginians.
Hamm, M.W. (2009). Principles for Framing a Healthy Food System. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 4: 3, 241-250.