Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


Local Food for Local Power was a project of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG 2009) that sought to strengthen the food security advocacy of communities, increase sustainable and local agricultural practices and engage community organizations in creating food system changes. Focused on the southeastern United States, SSAWG has been a supporter of small farmers and a proponent of ecologically healthy farm practices since 1991 and have focused directly on community food systems since 2003.

This paper is a case study of the Local Food for Local Power (LFLP) project’s advocacy-capacity building which was conducted over a 15 month period during 2008-09 with four community based organizations: Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee, Youth For a Cleaner Environment-Georgia, Virgin Islands Farmers Cooperative and CASTLES/Center for Environmental Farming Systems-North Carolina. The case study format of this Capstone describes the LFLP project, orients it in the context of previous hunger and food security efforts, identifies how effective the project was and illuminates lessons that can be applied to future work in this field. The theory of change that SSAWG applies through the LFLP project is not one of direct advocacy for policy change, but instead takes the approach of empowering local organizations to create appropriate structures locally that might allow them to do advocacy themselves.

Lessons were learned from the successes and failures of this project, specifically the importance of choosing the appropriate scale at which to work on policy advocacy, recognition of the various challenges that organizations face when conducting food policy and system changes, the role that project design plays in determining effective outcomes, and the importance of starting with a clear theory of change.


Agricultural and Resource Economics