Based on the barriers identified via qualitative, statistical, and geospatial methods, we have several strategic recommendations for Resourceful Communities.
- Support organizations that address consumer transportation issues. The consumer survey indicates that people without a car are more likely to shop at places that are not grocery stores. They are more likely to suffer poor nutrition and food insecurity. Simple volunteer programs such as Produce Ped’lers in Goldsboro deliver fresh produce from the farmer’s market straight to people’s doors via bicycle delivery. A similar program to address food insecurity in the town of Washington, North Carolina could be easily applied. Programs that encourage ride sharing from rural areas and/or expanded use of county van services should be encouraged.
- Support subsidized or low-cost CSA programs. Approximately 40% of respondents to the consumer survey indicated they would be interested in a low-cost or free box of produce from a local farm. At least two farms in Washington County have CSA programs already.
- Support organizations that address SNAP/EBT purchases at farmer’s markets and roadside stands. Given that over half the respondents on the consumer survey indicated they were on a food assistance program, doubling their dollars at farmer’s markets or allowing them to apply food assistance money toward a CSA encourages healthier eating and better connections with local farmers.
- Support farm labor force development. For example, Resourceful Communities already works with the Beaufort County Developmental Center to train developmentally disabled people to grow and harvest food.
- Encourage producers to be “retail ready” and provide technical support and training. Gary Bullen of the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension in Raleigh developed the report Retail Ready for Local Farm Products in 2013. Trainings from the NCSU extension offices are ongoing throughout the state.
- Connect producers, farmer’s groups, and business alliances with information about Pitt County’s “Healthy Corner Store Initiative” (Pitt County 2012).
- Encourage and support small scale programs and events that connect producers and consumers, even if there is not a long-term benefit. For example, Resourceful Communities could support an organization that arranges for a local food dinner at a food pantry or an organization that arranges for schoolchildren to visit local farms. While these small gestures do not have immediate effects, they open the door to further connection and collaboration between producers and consumers.