A foodshed is the combination of land, resources, and channels that contribute to the flow of food from farm to fork. More deeply, a foodshed represents a more locally reliant, alternative food system that reduces the negative social and environmental impacts of agriculture. By considering the concept of a foodshed as it relates to our own definition of local, we are able to look closely at the roles that the farmers, distributors, and eaters play in our network.
Our service area is nestled in central/southwest New Hampshire, abutting and including some of Vermont as well. The 30-mile radius around Bradford, New Hampshire includes towns from Merrimack, Hillsborough, Cheshire, Rockingham, Grafton, and Sullivan counties in New Hampshire, as well as Windham and Windsor counties in Vermont. According to data collected by the USDA, there are 4,366 farms totaling 485,466 acres within these eight counties (USDA, 2008). There is an average of 546 farms per county, covering an average of 60,683 acres per county
Local is, however, defined differently from organization to organization:
USDA definition: Raised, produced, and distributed within a locality or region and is transported less than 400 miles from its origin or within a state.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS): Originating within 250 miles of the institution, regardless of road mileage or terrain.
Parkhurst Dining (distributors to local college Colby-Sawyer: 150 miles
100 Mile Diet: "a 100-mile radius... large enough to reach beyond a big city and small enough to feel truly local”.
Given these other definitions of local, it seems as though our range might be considered hyper-local!
The need for a food hub
According to the “Home Grown” Report, New Hampshire falls significantly below average in the contribution of local agriculture. More specifically New Hampshire accounts for 0.28% of Gross State Product (GSP) from local agriculture. While on average in the U.S each state accounts for 1.0% of GSP from local agriculture. (Colby-Sawyer College Foodshed Analysis Report).
There is a need to organize the supply in our area and create new local and regional partnerships to crack into wholesale and institutional markets in our area.
Regional Food Security
Our work increasing food access corresponds with the work of Food Solution New England, a network invested in helping New England gain more control of it's own food production. They have launched an important initiative called A New England Food Vision: 50 by 60, wherein they aim for New England to produce 50% of it's food needs by 2060. There is a lot of work to be done and we are trying to do our part, with a focus on building and sharing infrastructure within our local network and relationship building across the supply chain.
Collaboration is the Key
In order to reach these goals of making local food more accessible, feeding 50% New England with locally and regionally produced goods by 2060, and making small-scale agriculture more viable, we need to work together. The old school, top down hierarchy of the industrial food system just won’t do. We need grassroots efforts, from the ground up, and horizontal relationship building that considers each player, not as interchangeable profit-drivers, but as inherently valuable local partners that contribute to social, environmental, and economic viability.
Learn more about how our role as a food hub contribute to strengthening the local food system.