Rosebird Farms is a two-acre, certified naturally grown farm located in Kingman, Arizona. Utilizing techniques of high-density planting with a focus on soil health, the farm produces over twenty varieties of produce in any given season on just one-third of an acre. Andrea McAdow began her journey in farming after starting a career in civil engineering and construction management, driven by a need to give back to the Earth and her community. Darren Bingham, a graduate student at Northern Arizona University, recognized the pivotal role Andrea’s farm could play in the Kingman community in increasing rural access to healthy, local foods. With a degree in environmental studies and a certificate in city planning, Bingham’s graduate thesis focuses on analyzing USDA food flows within Arizona and the semantics of local food. In partnering with Andrea and Rosebird Farms, Bingham wishes to help the farm expand its local food hub by connecting with local and regional farmers and producers through building and developing a resilient aggregation and distribution system via the farm’s mobile grocery and Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program.
Throughout the Spring 2021 semester, the Rosebird Farms GreenLight team worked to create three documents that would best aid Darren and Andrea in their mission to expand and develop Rosebird Farms as well as the Kingman food community. The first of these documents was a seventeen-page annotated bibliography consisting of forty academic journals and articles covering topics such as rural food hubs, rural food delivery, and CSAs. The goal of this document was to provide resources for Darren and Rosebird to refer to should they want to learn more about these topics as Rosebird and the Kingman food hub grows. The document also served to help the Rosebird Farms GreenLight team prepare to create the group’s second document, a list of recommended strategies for rural aggregation and distribution.
This second document included detailed explanations of eight unique strategies for building and expanding a rural food hub, ranging from effective outreach strategies to aggregation models for off-takers and smallholder farmers and contact information for businesses and organizations that are currently utilizing or have utilized these strategies within their companies. The document also listed the corresponding or relevant resources from the annotated bibliography for Darren and Rosebird to reference should they want to know more about the strategy included in the summary given.
Finally, the project team identified a total of fourteen product recommendations to help Rosebird stock their mobile grocery store (one of the farm’s existing efforts to increase rural access to local food). These recommendations reflected the findings of our team’s research into Arizona agriculture and feedback from market research and consumer outreach efforts.
In addition to the three deliverables mentioned above, the Rosebird Farms GreenLight project team created two surveys: one for producers and distributors, and one for consumers. Designed as a result of unsuccessful individual outreach efforts, these surveys were highly beneficial to both the project partner and the project team. The first survey included questions gauging producer and distributor understanding of, and interest in, joining local food hubs. It allows Rosebird to find potential partners in their local area (defined by a radius of 150 miles from Rosebird Farms) as well as regional partners (~400 miles) in stocking their mobile grocery. The second survey aims to learn more about consumers’ understanding of their food purchasing habits and local food purchasing options and gauge consumers’ interests in becoming more involved with their local food hubs. These surveys are a valuable tool for Darren and Rosebird. They can edit and continue to utilize these surveys for their use long after the GreenLight project semester has ended.
The Solutioneers on this project were Jackie Liang, Andrea Castro, Anh Giang, Ciera Parkhurst, and Jady Kralovic. They walked away from this project with a deeper understanding and appreciation for local food and its importance to Arizona’s rural communities and say that they had a fantastic experience. They are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to Rosebird’s mission to develop and grow Arizona’s rural food hubs. And they now have quality experience in business communication, professional writing, and collaborative research through this project.
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