Nationally and in Oregon, people and organizations traditionally involved with separate parts of the food system are coming together to tackle challenges related to health, environment, and economy, as part of the “community food systems” movement.

The idea of a “community food system” starts with the core functions of a food system – growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposal – and views them with the goal of enhancing environmental, economic, and social health.

Sustainable community food systems are grown through community-led collaboration and include:

  • Small- and mid-scale, sustainable farms;
  • Closer ties between farmers and consumers;
  • Equitable access to an affordable, nutritious diet;
  • Food & agriculture businesses that create jobs & recirculate capital;
  • Fair working conditions for farm & food system labor;
  • Food and agriculture policy that supports all the above.

The OSU Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems partners with communities and organizations around the state who work across this range of community food system goals. We also partner with our OSU Extension colleagues with expertise in public health, community health, and nutrition.


The Oregon Community Food Systems Network, established in 2015, is a collaboration of more than 50 nonprofit organizations and allies dedicated to strengthening local and regional food systems to deliver better economic, social, health, and environmental outcomes across the state. Our shared vision is that all Oregonians thrive with healthy affordable foods from an environmentally and economically resilient regional food system. Learn more about OCFSN here:

Our Center was a founding member and serves the Network as one of three backbone organizations, with Oregon Food Bank and Food Alliance.

Economic Impact of Local Food & Farms

How do local food systems contribute to their regional economies? What might happen if we invested in their growth? Mallory Rahe, OSU Extension Community Economist, partnered with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council and the High Desert Food & Farm Alliance to answer these questions in the three-county Central Oregon region, using a new Toolkit from USDA.  Learn more:

CFS Indicators

CFS Indicators

The Community Food System Indicators set, a curated collection within OSU Rural Communities Explorer, spans the food system from production to consumption. Data are available at the state and county level. Visit: