Surveying agrifood stakeholders to identify priorities as part of a Virginia food system assessment


Throughout Virginia there are a multitude of social, environmental, and economic challenges facing farmers and communities. In 2010 and 2011, an interdisciplinary team of faculty, practitioners, and graduate students collaborated to address these challenges through the creation of the Virginia Farm to Table Plan. As part of the plan, the team completed a comprehensive food system assessment. Comprehensive food system assessments use qualitative and quantitative methodologies to analyze the systematic nature of a local, state, or regional food system to address the interactions of food with social, environmental, and economic concerns. The overall purpose of this article is to present the results of an online survey of Virginia agrifood system stakeholders that investigated their priorities for strengthening Virginia's local and regional food systems. A total of 1,134 Virginia respondents completed the online survey. Respondents were asked to rank 34 items in four major categories in terms of their level of importance for strengthening Virginia's food systems. Respondents rated increasing the "understanding by government officials of the economic, environmental, and social issues surrounding local food systems" as the most important priority among all of the items listed. The category with the most highly rated items was "food system planning, management, and policy." This survey provided key information for developing the Virginia Farm to Table Plan.



community food systems, comprehensive food system assessment, food system planning, survey, Virginia


Benson, M. C., Hightower, L. S., Bendfeldt, E. S., Tyler-Mackey, C., Niewolny, K. L., & Groover, G. (2012). Surveying agrifood stakeholders to identify priorities as part of a Virginia food system assessment. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 3(1), 215–233.