This paper discusses the findings of research conducted by ASAP’s Local Food Research Center with entrepreneurs of local food in Appalachian Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. The research investigated the experiences of local food entrepreneurs to understand their motivations for working with local foods, the challenges they experienced, and the strategies they used to make local food-centered endeavors financially viable. For this study, local food entrepreneurs are individuals who operate a food related business such as restauranteurs, food retailers, artisan food producers, and wholesalers with a focus on local food and a commitment to sourcing from local farms. The concepts of “market embeddedness” and “non-market values” are used to bring understanding to entrepreneurs’ motivations for working with local farms and to frame the challenges they encounter and strategies they employ. This paper also builds on an earlier study of the region’s emerging local food system, which in large part looked at ways food buyers in retail and institutional settings negotiate the tensions between locally grown food and larger market-based realities.
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