Our Commitment: Local Food System Development

One of the core features of the Oberlin Project is the identification of a 20,000 acre network of local farms and landowners to provide support for local food, energy, materials, and carbon sequestration services in the greater Oberlin community. In conjunction with a land inventory being conducted by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, a local food systems assessment and plan will identify opportunities to leverage the 20,000 acre network as a catalyzing element in a 70% localization scenario for Oberlin.

The assessment will begin with an analysis of the current market depth of Oberlin as a community of roughly 10,000 residents and students and a detailed summary of 20 years of food localization initiatives. From there, the study will consider 70% localization across the entire food value chain, including production, distribution, processing/manufacturing, storage, consumption, and waste handling. The study will consider both the economic and quality of life benefits of 70% localization as well as the risks. The study will address community investments needed to achieve 70% localization, including physical infrastructure and buildings; training, education, and workforce development; entrepreneurial opportunities; and a review of community assets.

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Our process

Local Food Systems development in the greater Oberlin area will unfold through a four-step process that includes:

  • Assessment: The assessment will span across 40 years, including a review of the past 20 years since Oberlin first established a local food purchasing initiative, an analysis of current market conditions, and consideration of strategies for growth of the local food system in the next 20 years. Learn More ??
  • Investment: Building on the assessment, the investment process will consider strategic assets that can be utilized and/or developed, including both financial and non-financial to effectively implement 70% localization. Learn More ??
  • Capacity: development of learning institute on regenerative agriculture and local food systems tapping into a network of local and national expertise. The institute will be developed in conjunction with a network of local educational and non-profit partners. Learn More ??
  • Replication: development of regional web-based interface to connect local food system efforts through the Oberlin Project with other initiatives in the Northeast Ohio area. Learn More ??


The project for Local Food Systems development began in July of 2011 and will continue through June of 2012. The project will be carried out in three phases:

  • Phase One (July-October): review of purchasing records, economic data, film videographies, supply networks, and review of history of local food efforts
  • Phase Two (November through January): development of web-interface, production of short films, development of community partners, execution of community surveys
  • Phase Three (February through June): organization of public meetings, establishment of learning institute, expansion of local foods network


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