Surveying Agrifood Stakeholders To Identify Priorities as Part of a Virginia Food System Assessment

  • Matthew C. Benson Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Lisa S. Hightower Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Eric S. Bendfeldt Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Crystal Tyler-Mackey Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Kim L. Niewolny Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Gordon Groover Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Keywords: Community Food Systems, Comprehensive Food System Assessment, Food System Planning, Survey, Virginia

Abstract

Throughout Virginia there are a multitude of social, environmental, and economic challenges facing farmers and communities. In 2010 and 2011, an interdisciplinary team of faculty, practitioners, and graduate students collaborated to address these challenges through the creation of the Virginia Farm to Table Plan. As part of the plan, the team completed a comprehensive food system assessment. Comprehensive food system assessments use qualitative and quantitative methodologies to analyze the systematic nature of a local, state, or regional food system to address the interactions of food with social, environmental, and economic concerns. The overall purpose of this article is to present the results of an online survey of Virginia agrifood system stakeholders that investigated their priorities for strengthening Virginia's local and regional food systems. A total of 1,134 Virginia respondents completed the online survey. Respondents were asked to rank 34 items in four major categories in terms of their level of importance for strengthening Virginia's food systems. Respondents rated increasing the "understanding by government officials of the economic, environmental, and social issues surrounding local food systems" as the most important priority among all of the items listed. The category with the most highly rated items was "food system planning, management, and policy." This survey provided key information for developing the Virginia Farm to Table Plan.

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Author Biographies

Matthew C. Benson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Department of Agricultural & Extension Education, Virginia Tech; 2270 Litton Reaves Hall; Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 USA; +1-540-522-0762.
Lisa S. Hightower, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Department of Agricultural & Extension Education, Virginia Tech, 2270 Litton Reaves Hall, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 USA.
Eric S. Bendfeldt, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Northern District Office, 2322 Blue Stone Hills Drive, Suite 140, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801 USA.
Crystal Tyler-Mackey, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Southeast District Office, 2810 N. Parham Road, Suite 300, Richmond, Virginia 23294 USA.
Kim L. Niewolny, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Department of Agricultural & Extension Education, Virginia Tech, 282 Litton Reaves Hall, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 USA.
Gordon Groover, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Virginia Tech, 301-A Hutcheson Hall, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061 USA.
Published
2012-12-17
How to Cite
Benson, M. C., Hightower, L. S., Bendfeldt, E. S., Tyler-Mackey, C., Niewolny, K. L., & Groover, G. (2012). Surveying Agrifood Stakeholders To Identify Priorities as Part of a Virginia Food System Assessment. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 3(1), 215-233. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.031.016