Local Food - Core Insights

Charles Marohn
Charles Marohn

A strong town is able to sustain itself, with local resources providing the foundation for local prosperity.  A resilient food system that provides for residents’ basic needs ensures that your city or town will be able to withstand volatile shifts in global food and transportation prices.

There are several important steps a community can take toward developing a resilient local food system: 

1. Let people grow food where it makes sense.

Allow front lawns, vacant lots, and underutilized public spaces to be turned into productive gardens that your residents can use to grow food.

2. Let people process, produce, and sell food in a reasonable manner.

Allow for residents to process locally-grown foods in a reasonable way. This might include canning, baking, dairy, and meat processing, and other methods of turning produce into products for sale. If a commercial kitchen or expensive certification is not necessary to ensure basic food safety, don’t require it for small food businesses.

3. Support the creation of small-scale food businesses.

Small spaces lower the barrier to entry for local food entrepreneurs. These may include:

  • Corner stores.
  • Accessory commercial units.
  • Food trucks.
  • Street carts.
  • Pop-up shops.
  • Farmers markets.

4. Make rural the best rural it can be. Make urban the best urban it can be.

Take the development pressure off of rural areas by focusing on building up productive urban spaces. Let farmland be farmland and neighborhoods be neighborhoods, rather than allowing suburban areas to encroach farther and farther onto arable land.

Elected officials and city staffs can lead the way in implementing policies that advance these steps.  Business owners and concerned citizens can work with local leaders to support these policies and take the initiative to grow and purchase local food.



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1 comment

  • Comment author
    Candace Eudaley-Loebach
    • Edited

    Are there examples on StrongTowns that can direct an interested resident on where to look in city code to try to understand what barriers exist and propose language to address them? 


    Example: In a standard city code, what chapter usually addresses what individuals can or can't grow on their property?


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