In 2018, LFA engaged a renowned food system analyst to develop a Community Food System Strategic Plan for the Wood River Valley Region.
Community Food System Strategic Plan
Initiated by Local Food Alliance and Sun Valley Institute, the Community Food System Strategic Plan brings stakeholders together to work for a common purpose and create an explicit and inclusive vision for the Wood River Valley Region. Having a clearly articulated vision and working collaboratively is key to making - and measuring - real progress in food system reform. By examining the system in its totality and incorporating feedback from dozens of stakeholders, the community is assured that broad-scale dynamics have been considered, leading to more effective action.
A community-based food system creates systems of exchange that strive to bring food producers and food consumers into affinity with each other for the purpose of building health, wealth, connection, and capacity in the region.
The Community Food System Strategic Plan was commissioned in the summer of 2018 with the goal of strengthening community-based food systems in the Wood River Valley Region (see Geography Covered, below). In partnership with Blaine County Food Council and University of Idaho Extension, LFA engaged renowned food system analyst Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center to conduct a study of our regional food and farm economy. In late 2018, Ken interviewed 61 food system leaders identified by Local Food Alliance and Blaine County Food Council, and compiled economic research covering Blaine County and the Wood River Valley Region. He then analyzed these findings to develop a short list of action priorities.
Most stakeholder interviews were held in-person, with a few by telephone as needed. Interviewees were asked to describe their work within the community food system, and identify the key strengths and limitations they experienced in community foods work. Further, each was asked to offer their insights into the obstacles preventing community foods work from flourishing, as well as key opportunities they saw for advancing this work.
The Wood River Valley Region - all of the Wood River Valley, the rest of Blaine County, Camas County, and parts of the Magic Valley.
While this area encompasses most of the farmland closest to Wood River Valley consumers, and is of critical importance to supplying us with food, this initiative also seeks to foster food production on WRVR farms for all regional consumers, as well as the growth of social and commercial networks that will build financial trade, mutual respect, and trust among all members throughout the region.
Over time, as the Strategic Plan is implemented and regional branding efforts take root, the Wood River Valley Region may take on its own unique identity, perhaps embracing a name that reflects the broader landscape — perhaps using a name such as the “Tri-Valley Region.”
1. Ensure that all residents of the Wood River Valley Region (WRVR) have access to healthy foods produced on Blaine County (BC), Camas County (CC), and Magic Valley (MV) farms.
2. Ensure that farmers are well compensated for their work, and that food is affordable to all consumers in the region.
3. Engage Wood River Valley, Blaine County, Camas County, and Magic Valley stakeholders in increasingly stronger collaborations that build effective social and commercial networks. In particular, farmers and consumers should build mutual trust and stronger connections with each other.
4. Build the capacities of residents and businesses in the two valleys.
5. Create a solid track record of accomplishments.
6. Build infrastructure that creates new efficiencies in community food trade and fosters long-term partnerships.