The Power of Community-based Food Systems

Lessons in resilience, carrying on deep-rooted traditions, and building community power in the COVID-19 era


This multimedia storytelling project is an exploration into how communities across the Northwest are using community-based food systems to catalyze resistance and resilience, self-determination and sovereignty, connection and liberation.

This dynamic and interactive media piece amplifies a few of the many stories of resiliency, partnership, and innovation emerging in response to the interconnected crises of 2020. It was produced through a collaboration between the Wallace Center, Ecotrust, Lake County Community Development Corporation, Dream of Wild Health, and Real Food Media.

Black Futures Farm, Portland Oregon; 7 Waters Food Sovereignty Project, Wapato Island, Oregon; Farmers to Families Food Box Program, Lake County, Montana. Photo credits: Noah Thomas, Nicole Tavenner

Through conversations with food systems leaders and community-led organizations in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lake County, Montana, and Portland, Oregon, these stories demonstrate how and why community-based food systems work: they are agile and adapt to meet the needs of the community; they foster trusting relationships and create pathways for self-determination and community power; and they celebrate traditional wisdom of how to be stewards of the earth and community.

We invite you to explore these powerful stories, be inspired by their brilliance and innovation, and sense the insights and possibilities they present for a path forward. Food is not just about nutrition or economy; it is about culture, history, and connection. It is vital to our health, well-being, and to cultivating community-based power and prosperity. Community-based food systems are what we need, not just to weather times of crisis, but to create a better future for all.

This initiative was made possible by the generous support of the Northwest Area Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It is a collaborative effort by the Wallace Center, Ecotrust, Lake County Community Development Corporation, Dream of Wild Health, and Real Food Media to understand, document, and amplify how food-focused community organizations in the Northwest region of the area are responding to the distinct yet interconnected crises of 2020, and what that might mean for our collective future.

Dream of Wild Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Midwest Farmers of Color Collective, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo credits: Sarah White

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