Building a Resilient Local Grain Chain: Perspectives from Colorado’s Farmers, Millers, and Artisan Bakers
The development of local food systems as an alternative food network has catalyzed positive change in communities through the addition of social, economic, and environmental value. Grains occupy a large part of the food system and our diets, yet they have largely been neglected in the local food systems movement. The local grain movement is now making a comeback, expanding across the United States, and many other countries. Efforts to rebuild a local grain economy has gained momentum in Colorado, but little is known about the structure and function of this network. Using a mixed-methods approach, this capstone project investigates the general structure of the local grain chain and the key people involved within it. This study also explores Colorado’s local grain chain as an alternative food network to identify qualities of resilience. As social-ecological systems, local food systems are resilient, and can quickly adapt and recover from disruptions. Local food systems are characterized by their short supply chains, strong linkages, and powerful ability to withstand disruptions. By positioning the grain chain as a social-ecological system, this research identifies characteristics of resilience within the local grain chain. This study found that Colorado’s local grain chain has a network of strong relationships, local ownership, synergy between stakeholders, creative adaptability, ecological diversity, and the ability to rebound after a disturbance. This study hopes to contribute findings that are valuable to researchers and practitioners who are interested in applying a social-ecological resilience perspective to strengthen and add value to local grain chains.
Master of Professional Studies