Food System Planning

By shaping how food is produced, processed, distributed, consumed and disposed, food system planning has widespread impacts for communities just beginning to explore local foods and those with thriving local food economies alike.

Downstream Strategies has a successful track record of leveraging county, state, and federal partners to design and implement food system projects at community and regional scales.

Feasibility assessments

Feasibility assessments are critical for determining the viability of food and agriculture projects. Assessments examine the technical feasibility and economic justification for businesses and projects, giving decision makers and industry leaders the information necessary to refine and implement successful projects, seek appropriate investment, and develop partnerships. Feasibility assessments also provide a blueprint for the future by assessing the economic, health, and ecological impacts of proposed projects. Our experience ranges from community-level garden projects to regional training and sales programming.

  • Market barrier assessments
  • Consumer/stakeholder outreach and data collection
  • Literature reviews and concept research
  • Technical feasibility assessments
  • Evaluation of alternatives
  • Economic impact assessments

Food system assessments

Local and regional food system assessment and mapping can be an important tool for policy makers, nonprofits, foundations, and community leaders in determining the current state of the agricultural ecosystem. Downstream Strategies has completed a number of food system assessments at the local community, state, and regional levels. Our team is skilled at evaluating food production capacity and market needs and offers expertise related to food hubs, food system infrastructure, food equity and access, farm-to-institution, agricultural production, agriculture training and support services, and local food culture.

  • Mapping supply and demand
  • Identification of existing assets (cultural, infrastructure, production)
  • Gap analysis of missing assets
  • Identification of food system improvement opportunities

Business planning

Building upon feasibility assessments and market analysis, business plans provide strategic frameworks for successful enterprises. Downstream Strategies writes business plans and helps guide clients through the planning process.

  • Feasibility and demand assessments
  • Market analyses
  • Business coaching

Market analyses

A thorough understanding of current markets allows business owners, foundations, state and local governments, community leaders, and nonprofits to see the actual demands and needs for products or services. Market analysis can be used to determine viability and interest in training and educational services and identify specific markets available for food products. Our experience ranges from broad programming analysis to exploration of specific food sectors.

  • Wholesale market assessments
  • Educational/training programming
  • Food industry sector analysis

Food System Planning Contact

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Sprouting Farms Study

Downstream Strategies conducted the feasibility, business plan development, grantwriting, and implementation of the Sprouting Farms project. Sprouting Farms Appalachian Croft and Training Center is a nonprofit farm and education and resource center located in Summers County, West Virginia. It is dedicated to supporting new farmers, modeling sustainable production techniques, and providing shared resources and educational opportunities to the whole farm community.

Beefing Up Appalachia

This analysis combines national and state-level data with insights from producer, meat processor, and retailer surveys to explore the challenges and opportunities in niche meat production in the tri-state region of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. Appendices include mini-business plans, business concepts, and example farmer survey questions.