Marquette County, part of the Growing Food Connections Project, Featured in Upper Peninsula Matters

Marquette County Food Supply Plan Gains National Recognition

By Esther Kwon, Upper Peninsula Matters

April 30, 205

Marquette County’s work to improve the community’s food system is creating attention at the national level.

Thyra Karlstrom, Senior Planner for Marquette County, was recently invited to speak at the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in Seattle, Washington. The opportunity was a result of Marquette County being identified as a “community of innovation” by Growing Food Connections (GFC), a USDA-funded project that is conducting research on how local governments are improving food security and strengthening agriculture and food production in their communities. “We are impressed with the food systems planning and policy work of Marquette County government, namely the leadership of staff on food systems issues; long-range food systems planning efforts; coordination and collaboration within and outside the local government; and government support of food systems related projects and programs,” said Kimberley Hodgson, Co-Investigator of GFC and Principal of Cultivating Healthy Places.

As part of a GFC-hosted workshop (focused on advancing food systems planning and policy), Karlstrom spoke about Marquette County’s Local Food Supply Plan. The Plan was adopted by the County in 2012 and explains what a food system is, our regional challenges which include a short growing season, why a strong local food system is essential, and what the community and policy makers can do to strengthen ours.

“Representing rural communities and sharing Marquette County’s story at a national planning conference was an incredible opportunity,” Karlstrom said. “Our community has countless people and agencies dedicated to increasing healthy food consumption, providing opportunities for agriculture, and connecting food growers and consumers. Local governments have a key role and that is to set policy that encourages food production, processing, and even consumption.”

Marquette County is committed. Goals identified in the Plan include an improved economy, improved health, and reduced dependency on imported foods. The Plan can be found under comprehensive planning documents on Marquette County’s website.