This community of practice represents a virtual collection of emerging research, program evaluations and initiatives that seek to improve understanding of the complexities and economic potential of local and regional food systems, and their contributions to community and business development.

Through its support of the Toolkit , USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and its research partners have come to realize the importance and power of gathering community-based evidence that provide real-world illustrations of benefits associated with local food investments, while identifying the most appropriate and effective practices for advancing local food systems development. We invite your contributions to the collection, in the hope that this will strengthen this community’s role as a source of learning and inspiration for researchers and practitioners alike.



The Toolkit

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service convened a team of regional economists and food system specialists to develop a best practice Toolkit for evaluating the economic impacts of local food system activities. The team, coordinated by Dr. Dawn Thilmany McFadden at Colorado State University, hopes that this Toolkit can guide and enhance the capacity of local organizations to make more deliberate and credible measurements of local and small-scale economic activity and other ancillary benefits.

The Toolkit is made up of seven modules that can be grouped into two stages of food system planning, assessment and evaluation. The first set of modules (1-4) guides the first stages of an economic impact assessment and includes framing the system, relevant economic activities and assessment process as well as collecting and analyzing relevant primary and secondary data. The second set of modules (5-7) provides a more technical set of practices and discussion of how to use the information collected in stage one to conduct a more rigorous economic impact analysis.


Released March 24, 2016: View and Download as a PDF, “The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices

FDRS Workshop Data and Slides

Hear Our Workshop at the Food Hub Conference: HERE




Featured Research

Community Economics of Local FoodsFile

Choices Theme Overview: Community Economics of Local Foods

Steven Deller and Maureen Stickel









Scroll to Top