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The Community Food Systems Lab

Growing Food Connections

The Community Food Systems Lab (CFSL) at West Virginia University is an experimental space for action-based, practicum experiences and research to promote sustainable, resilient and healthy food systems. We are dedicated to helping individuals understand the impact of their food choices on health, the environment and the economy. Since 2014, we have worked cooperatively with the WVU Extension Small Farm Center to advocate for West Virginia farmers and the local food economy. We do this by generating service-learning based scholarship that builds on opportunities in communities to overcome food and health-related inequities. We conduct our research in partnership with community advocates, local governments, scholars and students locally and nationally.

What is a Community Food System?

A community food system is one in which food production, processing, distribution, and consumption are geographically integrated and benefit the environment, economy and social and nutritional health of a particular community. Farmers, consumers, and communities partner to create a more locally based, self-reliant food economy.

One of the most important aspects of sustainable community food systems projects is that they increase resident participation to achieve the following goals:

  • A stable base of family farms that use sustainable production practices and emphasize local inputs;
  • Marketing and processing practices that create more direct links between farmers and consumers;
  • Improved access by all community members to an adequate, affordable, nutritious diet;
  • Food and agriculture-related business that create jobs and recirculate financial capital within the community;
  • Improved living and working conditions for farm and food system labor;
  • Creation of food and agriculture policies that promote local or sustainable food production, processing and consumption and
  • Adoption of dietary behaviors that reflect concern about individual, environmental, and community health.