• Ken Meter Crossroads Resource Center
Keywords: Food Systems, Supply Chains, Resource Development & Extraction


First paragraphs:

In this issue, Ken Meter looks at two contrasting models of knowledge-building. One extracts resources from communities. Another, often practiced by extension educators, builds capacity both at the university and in the community by convening people to learn together.

In a previous column (volume 2, issue 2), I showed how the food the economy extracts resources from communities (Meter, 2012). When this is true, the essential core of food system work is to build capacity at the grassroots — especially in those rural and inner-city areas that have been the most depleted, or most marginalized.

My basic rule is that more capacity should be built in the community that is intended to be "served" by a given project than in the partnering university or nonprofit. Furthermore, the work should leverage and add to existing assets in the community, rather than undermining them through change.

Even for those scholars who dedicate their careers to community-building, work at the grassroots is far more unkempt and unpredictable than working within the academic sphere. More-over, the official rewards are typically sparse...

Author Biography

Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center
Ken Meter, president of Crossroads Resource Center, has taught economics at the University of Minnesota and the Harvard Kennedy School. He is one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., having produced 83 regional and state food system assess¬ments in 30 states, focused on geographic farm and food economies. A member of the Alliance for Building Capacity, he is also the author of Hoosier Farmer? Emerging Food Systems in Indiana. He serves as a contributing advisor to JAFSCD. 
Ken Meter

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