TLD’s roots go back 17 years, to when Groundwork (Michigan Land Use Institute at the time) published a report titled The New Entrepreneurial Agriculture: A Key Piece of the Farmland Protection Puzzle. The premise was that farmers, farmland, and the rural landscape we love were at risk of disappearing because developers could pay farmers more for their land than farmers could earn through the limited market options available at the time – largely bulk, global commodity markets that provided untenably low prices to farms.
We used our communications expertise to elevate a trend emerging across the country: small farmers were pursuing an entrepreneurial way of doing business that also provided health, quality of life, and economic benefits to communities. A pillar of the strategy was growing a more diverse set of crops and selling to local consumers. We now call that way of business “the local food movement.”
In the early aughts, the New Entrepreneurial Agriculture idea was nearly radical (even though it was how farming had long been done in the past), and looking back at it, the Groundwork team’s vision seems stunningly prescient as local food has become the hottest food trend in the nation.