Out of Our Silos, Into the Movement: Community Food Systems and Cooperative Extension in Oregon
Oregon has a vibrant community food systems (CFS) movement, which has grown from a few key actors and organizations two decades ago to an increasingly organized, statewide network of more than 50 organizations working on the full span of food system challenges. These diverse organizations have endorsed a common vision: “All Oregonians thrive with healthy, affordable foods from an environmentally and economically resilient, regional food system.” The CFS movement aims to expand Oregon’s sustainable agriculture and local and regional food sectors in ways that address the state’s chronic challenges with food insecurity and inequitable access to healthy food. Analysts have described Cooperative Extension’s potential and actual contributions to local, regional, and community food system development. Because many Extension personnel feel limited in their ability to work toward transforming the food system, researchers suggest partnering with external organizations with a similar understanding of food system problems and possible solutions. As those partners develop their own theories of food system change and strategic paths forward, Extension can use these to organize its own CFS goals and strategies. I demonstrate that this is well underway in Oregon.
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