Our Commitment: Local Food System Development

One of the core features of the Oberlin Project is the identification of a 20,000 acre network of local farms and landowners to provide support for local food, energy, materials, and carbon sequestration services in the greater Oberlin community. In conjunction with a land inventory being conducted by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, a local food systems assessment and plan will identify opportunities to leverage the 20,000 acre network as a catalyzing element in a 70% localization scenario for Oberlin.

The assessment will begin with an analysis of the current market depth of Oberlin as a community of roughly 10,000 residents and students and a detailed summary of 20 years of food localization initiatives. From there, the study will consider 70% localization across the entire food value chain, including production, distribution, processing/manufacturing, storage, consumption, and waste handling. The study will consider both the economic and quality of life benefits of 70% localization as well as the risks. The study will address community investments needed to achieve 70% localization, including physical infrastructure and buildings; training, education, and workforce development; entrepreneurial opportunities; and a review of community assets.

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Our process

Local Food Systems development in the greater Oberlin area will unfold through a four-step process that includes:

  • Assessment: The assessment will span across 40 years, including a review of the past 20 years since Oberlin first established a local food purchasing initiative, an analysis of current market conditions, and consideration of strategies for growth of the local food system in the next 20 years. Learn More »
  • Investment: Building on the assessment, the investment process will consider strategic assets that can be utilized and/or developed, including both financial and non-financial to effectively implement 70% localization. Learn More »
  • Capacity: development of learning institute on regenerative agriculture and local food systems tapping into a network of local and national expertise. The institute will be developed in conjunction with a network of local educational and non-profit partners. Learn More »
  • Replication: development of regional web-based interface to connect local food system efforts through the Oberlin Project with other initiatives in the Northeast Ohio area. Learn More »


The project for Local Food Systems development began in July of 2011 and will continue through June of 2012. The project will be carried out in three phases:

  • Phase One (July-October): review of purchasing records, economic data, film videographies, supply networks, and review of history of local food efforts
  • Phase Two (November through January): development of web-interface, production of short films, development of community partners, execution of community surveys
  • Phase Three (February through June): organization of public meetings, establishment of learning institute, expansion of local foods network


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