What's happening in Springfield, Mo., and elsewhere provide examples of how communities can support local food suppliers. Eating local has benefits: it boosts our economy, is better for the environment and cuts energy and fuel costs.
In Wichita, interest in local food is rising, but as the Eagle reported last week, it's not plentiful.
Today and next week, we'll point to a couple Midwestern cities that are strengthening local food supplies.
A composer of advertising jingles, Chappell knew he needed a simple message to build interest in buying local.
"It's about better food, better nutrition and more jobs," Chappell said.
Chappell started his quest on Facebook, then began the Well Fed Neighbor Alliance, a local social network, to build community support. He then set up a not-for-profit corporation, the Well Fed Neighbor LTD, to educate the public about the benefits of establishing a local food network.
He also wanted to make sure that every woman within the sound of his voice heard what he had to say.
"Women make 95 percent of all purchase decisions," Chappell said. "Frankly, I don't care if one man pays attention to anything I have to say about this. As a marketer, I know you have to have demand. We spent two years building demand, through education on local food."
The organization produced this video to help its education efforts:
The 'value chain'
A bunch of women -- and a few men -- listened.
It worked so well, Missouri's Department of Agriculture adopted the idea and launched its 10,000 Gardens project this spring.
Former Missouri Lt. Governor Joe Maxwell got involved and helped prepare a feasibility study, suggesting small farmers create their own production, distribution and retail network.
Chappell sank his savings into rebuilding a new local food infrastructure.
The professional piano player turned 15 acres he owned on the outskirts of town into the Gateway Farm, LLC, which serves as a large community garden. He bought a refrigerated truck, set up a distribution network, the Well Fed Neighbor Cooperative, LLC. He then bought and a grocery store, set to open in coming weeks.
Any farmer who wants to sell in the store has to pass water quality tests and verify what they're providing is actually home grown.
"We want to handle the business end so all the farmer's have to do is concentrate on growing food," Chappell said. "We have it down to where we can sell our products with a 10-15 percent difference from the major grocery stores. But I don't have to go farther than 50 or 100 miles a day."
"I haven't sold a tomato yet," Chappell said. "But I do believe that people are seeing the value in this."
Next week: How two businesses in Kansas City are turning vacant lots into community gardens.