In the Acadiana Food Alliance's 2016 report "Our Acadiana Food System," the Alliance identified the significant needs of growers to support local food production in our area. In December 2016, LEDA asked our regional growers to elaborate, including what services they would be interested in learning more about. Their responses were active and varied, showing a strong desire to strengthen their businesses and the entire local food economy.
When asked about primary distribution of their produce, feedback showed that most locals are buying their fresh produce at Farmers' Markets. Growers also noted that their produce sold well through direct sales to individuals, restaurants, and in some cases, grocery stores.
A slight majority of respondents reported a decrease in their local sales in 2016 at 39%. Thirty-three percent of respondents' sales remained stable, while 28% of growers saw an increase in sales.
A significant amount of our local fruits and vegetables are coming from farms with less than 20 acres of land. Paired with the dilemma that about one third of our local farmers have been growing for ten years or more and have expressed a desire to retire within the next five, this shows an urgency to promote awareness and support for local food production.
So what are the next steps?
Our community obviously loves fresh food, based on the sales responses from farmers' markets and smiles on people's faces.
We obviously need fresh food, based on the fact that today, 1/3 of America's population is obese, compared to only 1/10 in the 1970s.
So shouldn't we want more fresh food, and show support for those producing it locally?
...After all, what else is more delicious than Cajun or Creole-originated food?
Surveys given over the course of a month
Sent via email, direct mail, and phone interviews
Data collected from a total of 19 respondants
Outreach to over 100 growers in the region
Facilitated by LEDA and the Acadiana Food Alliance board