Food Supply Chains and Markets: Engaging Local and Regional Producers^


^Sustainable Food Systems Track course

Instructor: Christopher Wayne

Fulfills requirement: Food Economics and Sustainability (FES) OR Case Study (CS)
Day: Wednesday and a Saturday field trip
Dates: May 22, 29, June 5, 12 (Module 4, 4 evening sessions)
Time: 6:10 – 8:10 PM
Room location: TBD
Field trip: Saturday, June 8 from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM at the Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the Bronx**
Course number: ENVB 0453 N

**Students are responsible for transportation to the field trip site.

Course Description

Interest in and demand for locally-grown farm products continues to increase, in part driven by food movements such as the slow food and local food movements. These movements envision food systems that are equitable for both producers and consumers, engage local producers, and incorporate sustainable methods of production, in contrast to the globalized and industrialized systems that have come to define modern agricultural production. Aligned with these movements, farmers’ markets, opportunities to participate in Community Supported Agriculture, and farm-to-table restaurants serve as direct-to-consumer pathways that can meet the food needs and preferences of consumers while supporting local producers.

Ensuring that markets (used broadly here as a place or space in which buyers and sellers exchange goods or services) function in a way that corresponds with local food production, however, continues to be a considerable challenge. Even with the renewed interest in local food production and local food systems, it is estimated that 97% of food produced in the United States still moves through conventional market channels such as wholesalers and distributors. New aggregation and distribution business models, coupled with technological advances, offer promising solutions that could enhance the reliability, sustainability, and profitability of local food systems. For example, food hubs can process and distribute farm products aggregated from many small producers in a manner that increases farm marketing efficiencies, reduces food miles, and opens up access to larger wholesale markets.

The course will explore agricultural direct-to-market channels that have evolved over the last 15 years and shortened food supply chains, thereby facilitating an increased reliance on local and regional producers . Students will also learn about some of the innovative aggregation, processing, and distribution models that are helping create scale-appropriate efficiencies for farmers in the United States. As part of this course, students will have the opportunity to participate in a field trip to GrowNYC’s Regional Food Hub, a facility in the Bronx that aggregates and distributes locally-procured farm products.

About the Instructor

Christopher Wayne is the Director of the FARMroots program, part of GrowNYC, which provides business development technical assistance to beginning and established farm businesses to ensure their long-term viability. Mr. Wayne grew up in a farm family in Connecticut and spent two years working with agricultural producers in Costa Rica’s Puntarenas province before joining GrowNYC in 2009. His current work at FARMroots covers three primary initiatives, including Beginning Farmer Development, Strategic Marketing, and Retiring Farmer Assistance. Combined, these initiatives provide one-on-one technical support to well over 100 farm businesses each year at various stages of growth and complexity. Mr. Wayne’s previous work at the New Farmer Development Project saw him providing bilingual business development support to aspiring immigrant farmers from predominately Latinx and West African heritage.  Mr. Wayne completed a Masters in Sustainability Management from Columbia University in May of 2016.