Regional Food Systems Strategies

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has partnered with the North Carolina Association of Regional Councils ( to develop resources and tools for regional councils of government (COGs) working to support agricultural economic development.

These tools provide information on all sixteen council of government regions as well as statewide supply chain information and methods for incorporating agricultural development into comprehensive economic development plans.

CEFS looks forward to partnering with COGs interested in planning and developing regional food systems, and can assist councils with research, data collection and analysis, and guidance on supply chains, farm and food business development, planning and land use issues, and more.

With questions, please contact Laura Lauffer at or Abbey Piner at

Resources for Regional Food Systems Development

CEDS Planning with Agriculture: Each council updates their Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy every five years. This summary document outlines CEDS plans for councils who are focused on agricultural economic development as a priority strategy, and includes six councils of government whose membership reaches 41 counties across the state.

Regional Agricultural Infographics are available for all sixteen councils of government and each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. These infographics – presented in a single page with a sheet of discussion points attached – utilize US Department of Agriculture Census Data to show the percent change on 16 different data points that reflect agricultural economic development.

A Government Guide on Building Local Food Economies is an in-depth publication available in online & PDF format with three primary sections: Planning & Land-Use for Local Food Systems; Agricultural Economic Development Strategies; and Partnering for Growth. The peer-reviewed publication has sample policies and programs, templates, and county contacts for successful models of local and regional government support of food system development.

The NC Local Food Supply Chain Infrastructure Inventory, now hosted by Piedmont Triad Regional Council and originally developed by NCGT and CEFS, maps the intermediary steps between production and consumption across the state and is a useful tool for analyzing supply chain gaps and business opportunities along the food supply chain. The GIS map is available for governments to download and use within their own GIS systems as well as a standalone searchable map inventory. For an overview of this project, data sources, methods, and who to contact with updates and corrections, please click here.

What Can Be: A Video Story of Regional Food System Development in Warren County, NC is a SARE-funded project from the NC 10% Campaign & NCGT that demonstrates the power of small-scale processing and local community partnerships in changing regional food systems. It is also a good overview of many of the common issues facing rural regions across the state and the opportunities that regional food systems provide for those communities.

Local Food Procurement in Public Agencies: An Overview is a brief document outlining basic approaches to public procurement of local foods and links to several successful programs within the state and across the nation.

The Guide to Agricultural Economic Development Plans in North Carolina outlines successful integration of agricultural economic development into strategic and comprehensive plans on a local, regional, and national scale. (A future publication covers the same topic but is specific to regional CEDS plans and will be published in January 2018).

The Innovations in Agricultural Economic Development events showcased unique case studies from around the state – businesses, nonprofits, and farms that are changing the way we think about food & farm innovations that can have a big impact on local communities. They also featured county and town government partnerships that provide innovative models for overcoming obstacles and working together with diverse partners.

Professional Development: Recorded Webinars & Training Presentations
Please visit our YouTube channel for several recorded webinars and presentations on agricultural economic development, regional food systems, and food & farm business development from 2017.