Pathways to Prosperity is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary project. It connects rigorous research with extension outreach to support the development of effective, collaborative approaches to strengthening the value added food and agricultural sector in rural communities by developing their unique resources and amenities.
Rural Issues and Opportunities
In the years since 2008, the U.S. economy has pulled itself back up, recovering many of the losses incurred during the Great Recession. Despite the apparent progress, economic growth has not been distributed equally, leaving many people and communities struggling even in the midst of an apparently healthy economy.
One section of the country that has not fully realized the benefits of economic growth is much of rural America. Rural communities have lower median incomes and higher poverty rates than urban communities, and pressure from long-term social and economic changes leave many of them unable to take control of their future. Meanwhile, a growing urban-rural cultural divide exacerbates a growing sense of disenfranchisement from the rest of the country.
Reversing these trends requires investing in a broad range of resources
within a community.
Asset-Based Wealth Creation
Taking an “asset-based” approach to rural development creates opportunities for communities to employ their unique strengths as a basis for development.
Opportunities from Food and Agriculture
One avenue for rural development is the creation of a local value-added agriculture sector. The value-added sector includes food and agricultural activities that enable farmers, ranchers, food processors, and other food related businesses to benefit from consumer preferences for organic products, locally grown food, and other quality characteristics not available in conventional agriculture. A strong, locally owned value-added sector allows rural communities to earn a larger share of agriculture sales rather than exporting that income to externally owned business.
This approach is a particularly promising for rural communities, which still rely heavily on agriculture to support local economies.
Developing a strong value-added agriculture sector allows rural farming communities to take advantage of their unique characteristics to not only increase overall economic growth, but improve public health and small and midsized farm and ranch viability.
Hundreds of U.S. communities – both urban and rural – have started to strengthen their value-added sectors. While the specific approaches are as unique as the communities that make them, such approaches overwhelmingly depend on collaboration in planning and managing food system plans.
The work of Pathways to Prosperity is to explore effective, collaborative strategies that rural communities can employ to create strong, local value-added sectors.
The Pathways to Prosperity project team is a collaboration between researcher and rural development practitioners at Ohio State University, Colorado State University, and American Farmland Trust.
Learn more about our partner community research.
National Resource Advisory Council Members
Questions about Pathways to Prosperity, have ideas or recommendations, or want to know how you can contribute or get involved? We would love to hear from you!
Or Snail Mail at: Pathways to Prosperity | 310C Page Hall | 1810 College Road North | Columbus, OH 43210