Sustainable food systems balance economic prosperity, environmental preservation, and public health while moving agricultural products from farmer to consumer.
In 2011, a group of nonprofit, public, and private partners in Lake County, Illinois joined forces to strengthen the county's sustainable food system. This group (see list below) worked with CMAP through its Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program on a Lake County Sustainable Food Systems project. This two-year project resulted in a variety of resources and recommendations, both for exploring policy changes to better support sustainable agriculture as an economic development tool, as well as for updating the master plan for the Liberty Prairie Reserve -- an area of Lake County with a unique mix of sustainable agriculture and land preservation. Some of the key project deliverables are the Lake County Sustainable Local Food System Report, the Liberty Prairie Reserve Master Plan, and the master plan's summary brochure. For a full list of project resources in a variety of file sizes, please see the Related Documents section below.
Nationally, consumer demand for locally grown food is increasing rapidly, and agricultural production is opening up beyond traditional farming to include more vegetable and specialty farming. With its growing trend toward smaller farm plots and more specialty agriculture operations, Lake County is well-suited to grow its sustainable food system. By fostering the capacity in Lake County for small-scale, local, and/or organic agriculture that is environmentally sensitive to natural areas, the resulting sustainable food system will boost the county's overall production, driving economic development and contributing to the healthy food options in the region.