North Dakota Local Food Development Alliance Strengthens Local Food Markets

Devils Lake Journal

North Dakotans interested in local food production, marketing, processing or other innovations are encouraged to join the North Dakota Local Food Development Alliance (NDLFDA). The nonprofit coalition aims to create a vibrant, prosperous local food sector in North Dakota. 

Members represent farmers markets, consumers, food banks and hunger organizations, sustainable agriculture nonprofits, farmers, and economic development organizations.  The NDLFDA holds monthly virtual meetings to share information between members, create opportunities for collaboration, and identify ways to strengthen our state’s local food system. The group meets on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 2:00 pm CST and all are welcome to attend. More information is at www.farrms.org/ndlfda. 

The term “local food” has differing definitions. In this case, local food refers to food and ag products that are produced, marketed, and consumed within North Dakota. “Local food has been a growing sector in our state for about a decade,” said Stephanie Blumhagen, Board Chair, NDLFDA, and Executive Director, FARRMS. “More consumers want to know where their food is coming from and they want to know the farmer who grew it.” A 2019 study in the northeastern part of the state found that demand for local food outstripped supply, with many farmers markets selling out shortly after opening. (Northern Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council, 2019). In 2020 the global pandemic led to grocery store shortages and supply chain disruptions. More North Dakotans turned to local farmers for produce, meat, eggs, and other local food products.  

The NDLFDA works to support all parts of the system so more locally grown food is available for all North Dakotans. “Local food presents a great opportunity for beginning farmers or producers wanting to diversify,” said Paul Overby, President, Northern Plains Resource Conservation and Development Council, and NDLFDA member. “We also need processors and transportation from farms to markets. We need cooperatives and food hubs to aggregate products. We need ag educators, financial institutions, and economic developers to support local foods. Through coordinated efforts, we can bring more local foods to school cafeterias, hospitals, and nursing homes, restaurants, and grocery stores. No one organization can achieve this all on their own, but by collaborating we can build a strong vibrant local food system in North Dakota,” said Overby. 

“We know we can achieve more together. The ND Local Food Development Alliance is creating a space where we can share ideas, ask questions, and support each other,” said Felicity Merritt, NDLFDA Coordinator. “Our meetings are open to the public and we encourage anyone interested in food and agriculture to join us. Membership is open to anyone interested in improving our food system.” The group meets virtually on the second Tuesday of the month from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm CST. More information is at www.farrms.org/ndlfda, on Facebook @NDLocalFoodAlliance, and Instagram @ndlocalfood. 

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

Be sure to follow Devils Lake Journal on our twitter page, @devilslakenews, and like us on Facebook!