Collaborative Approaches for Food Entrepreneur Development
Food touches everything and is the foundation of every economy (Counihan & Van Esterik, 2013). While $29 billion was spent on food by Ohio consumers in 2011, about $26 billion (89%) of the food was sourced outside of the state. If Ohio residents purchased only 15% of the foods directly from Ohio farmers, this would result in $2.5 billion of new farm income for the state (Meter, 2011).
The need for training strategies and educational programs were identified as gaps in the support of growers and cooperative businesses (Snyder et. al., 2011). Through collaborative efforts, three projects were developed to nurture food entrepreneurs and integrate into larger community food system efforts. Food systems are intentional, collaborative efforts to build more locally-based, self-reliant food economies (Feenstra 2002).
The following three integrated projects summarize some of the food system developments led by OSU Extension professionals. New and existing food entrepreneurs benefit from these and other initiatives that contribute to Ohio’s local and regional economies.