Local Food in Perth County
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Interest in local food has increased during recent years; however, the necessary infrastructure is not yet in place for farmers to fully access local markets. While consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of buying local food, farmers and producers still face many barriers to success in this market. Despite confirmed public desire and growing enthusiasm for local foods, farmers in Perth County continue to face barriers to fully benefitting from this growing market. This research has been conducted as an investigation of one aspect of sustainable communities - the potential contributions of a more local food system in the Perth County community. Using a qualitative methodological approach, this case study research examined Perth County’s food system, barriers facing producers, the potential contributions of a distribution system and culinary tourism to a healthy food system, and the overall sustainable development of a community. Key informants included farmers and producers, and local distribution companies. A vibrant local food system can make significant contributions to the sustainability of communities and, thus, should continue to be pursued within Perth County. Interviews with 18 area producers discovered that a majority found distribution to be a significant barrier to success. This research examined the potential for a local food distribution system that serves as a mechanism for area farmers to increase the consumption of local food and strengthen culinary tourism in the region Culinary tourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry and can make significant contributions to strengthening a local food system. Initiatives already underway to establish Perth County as a culinary and agri-tourism destination will contribute to and provide incentives for developing a stronger local food system in the region. Considerations of sustainable development must be integral to this food systems work and, therefore, the entire realm of social, economic, and environmental impacts of Perth County agriculture must be considered. Perth County has a relatively healthy food system, yet clearly possesses the potential to create a much more localized one. Based on the findings from this study, it is recommended that a feasibility study on the most appropriate distribution model to serve Perth County producers be undertaken.