Local Food Production

Increase local production, processing, and distribution of food through food hubs, cooperatives, farmers markets, community kitchens, and other efforts.


Local food production, processing, and distribution can include a variety of things that make it easier and cheaper for local farmers to aggregate and distribute their food and have it ready for local consumption.

Farmers' markets are multiple vendor markets where producers sell goods directly to consumers at a specific location. Farmers' markets most often sell fresh fruit and vegetables while meat, dairy, grains, and other items may also be available. Food hubs are businesses or other organizations that aggregate, distribute, and market local and regional food products, usually fresh fruits and vegetables and sometimes meat, dairy, grains, prepared foods and other items. Community kitchens can offer specialty food processors, farmers, and caterers an inexpensive place to license food processing activities. Food buying clubs and co-ops offer group purchase and distribution of selected grocery items, generally at a reduced price.

Wisconsin Examples

Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative: This is a farmer-led business owned by the producers of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. The Cooperative is dedicated to securing the most profitable markets for producer-members. Through its work, the Cooperative makes it easier for the retail, institutional, and foodservice sectors to buy locally.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen: The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is a 10,000 square foot state-inspected, community-based commercial food processing facility in Mineral Point, WI. The facility includes 3,000 square feet of retail space and 7,000 square feet devoted to kitchens and food storage. It is owned by Hodan Community Services, a program supporting people with disabilities. The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen focuses on helping existing small food businesses, including family farms, create jobs and grow their businesses.

Equity in Practice

Recognizing Inequity: Increasing local food production does little to reduce disparities in access to healthy foods unless concerted efforts are made to ensure access for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Advancing Equity: Disparities in access can be reduced if farmers’ markets and community kitchens are established in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. Food hubs might also improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas by making it easier for farmers to sell their products.

Implementation Resources

Farm Commons: This organization has developed a sales guide for farmers in Wisconsin who sell fresh fruit and vegetables at farm stands and farmers' markets. The guide focuses on the laws and regulations that farmers should be aware of when selling directly to the consumer. This includes considerations about packaging, weighing, pricing, and advertising.

Institutional Food Market Coalition: This Dane County coalition provides outreach, education, and technical assistance to buyers, growers, food processors and distributors to increase local food sales.

Wisconsin Local Food Marketing Guide: This guide by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection provides guidance to food producers seeking local markets.

Food Business Innovation Network: UW-Extension has organized this network for food business incubators, which include both commercial food production facilities as well as technical assistance services available to those businesses that use the facility.

Wisconsin Farm Fresh Atlas: The Farm Fresh Atlas offers an interactive map that features Wisconsin farms, farmers' markets, restaurants, stores, and other businesses that sell local food and use sustainable production and business practices.

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide: This guide, published by the USDA, provides information on food hub impacts on regional food systems, and the resources available to support their growth and development.

The Native Food Systems Resource Center: This is an initiative of the First Nations Development Institute, supports tribes and Native communities as they build sustainable food systems that improve health, strengthen food security, and increase control over Native agriculture and food systems. First Nations provides financial assistance and technical support, including training materials, to projects that address agriculture and food sectors in Native communities.

Assessment Tools

First Nations Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool: This toolkit, put out by the First Nations Development Institute, has extensive assessment tools and explanations specifically for tribes and food sovereignty.

Smart Growth Self-Assessment for Rural Communities: While not directly related to local food production, this assessment tool by the US Environmental Protection Agency contains a number of questions on supporting local agriculture through zoning, as well as questions on agrotourism, financial incentives, and programs.

The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices: While it lacks a specific assessment checklist, this toolkit extensively discusses secondary data sources and how to do an economic assessment of the local food system.