This study has identified numerous and varied opportunities to address the on-farm, market, and infrastructure barriers small farms face in accessing these markets in the Deep South, including:providing capacity building and technical assistance directly linked to market activity;facilitating collaboration among farmers to share resources and achieve scale; catalyzing new,and working with existing,produce aggregators; moving beyond direct markets into local institutions and businesses, and varying the types of product that meet the needs of high and low-end customers; aligning crop production to market windows; expanding use of organic production practices; and fully utilizing hoop house technology, among others.
There is significant room for growth in local and regional food systems in the Deep South states of Alabama and Mississippi, which are currently underdeveloped. This report reveals pragmatic interventions and insights that will shape the success of developing local and regional food systems in the Deep South. Among them are the importance of collaboration among the supply chain;the role of market intermediary actors (such as supporting organizations, aggregators, distributors, and food hubs)who can expand the reach of local products into new markets; 7information sharing along the supply chain; transparency and trust in building relationships; the need to diversify partners and to work directly at the farmer level; the need for accountability processes and systems built into projects that ensure capacity and follow through; and encouraging farmers to take incremental steps to access larger markets. The Wallace Center intends this report to be a resource for farmers, farmer groups, and entrepreneurs to learn of new markets, stimulate collaboration, and encourage strategies to begin to address limitations in the food system.