Social Relationships and Farm-to-Institution Initiatives: Complexity and Scale in Local Food Systems

November 21, 2013 - Buckley, Jenifer, David S. Conner, <>, and Michael W. Hamm.

Farm-to-institution (FTI) initiatives have the potential to further the development of local food systems, create new markets for farmers, and increase the availability of local farm products. Yet the complexity and scale of FTI pose challenges. For many scholars and practitioners, local food systems' significance and potential for social change lie in direct relationships between producers and consumers. This article describes an empirical study that examined relationships in FTI in Michigan. Three key findings emerged. First, relationships of trust operate throughout even the large and complex local food systems we investigated. Second, linear supply chain models may neglect important components of local food systems. Third, local food relationships appear to foster creative and adaptive problem solving. Implications for further research are discussed.


local food systemsfarm to institutionsocial relationshipslearning supply chains



Buckley, Jenifer, David S. Conner, Colleen Matts, and Michael W. Hamm. 2013. Social relationships and farm-to-institution initiatives: Complexity and scale in local food systems. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 8(4) 397-412.



Corresponding author

Mike Hamm


This article is available at: 10.1080/19320248.2013.816988


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at