Regional Food Solutions LLC provides organizations and businesses with expert project development, writing, research, and facilitation. Regional Food Solutions’ focus is the community economic development power that comes from supporting family-scale, place-based farms in their work to produce food that is healthy for people and the planet.
Regional Food Solutions brings Patty Cantrell’s experience over 20 years in the field covering and developing community economic development initiatives.
Starting off at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Economic Renewal Program, the Food and Agriculture Workbook I authored there in 1991 is one of the early community organizing guides in our current local food system movement.
Later at the Michigan Land Use Institute I went on to work with an incredible organization, community, and team to build one of the nation’s leading local food and farming programs. Our Taste the Local Difference initiative in northwest Lower Michigan involves local food marketing, farm-to-school facilitation, farm business development support, and a regional food and farm coalition. More at mlui.org and foodandfarmingnetwork.org.
As a 2007-2009 Food and Society Fellow, I had the opportunity to try some new things and wander around the country a bit more. This presentation at the 2009 National Food Policy Conference in Washington D.C. captures the bigger picture that guides my work.
Titled “Decentralize. Diversify. Localize,” it presents the regional food movement as a naturally occurring corrective force. We can rely on it to bring us back from the fragile global market edge to the resilient center of a more robust world of markets. The trick is, in grassroots action and public policy, to remove barriers to innovation and support the common sense driving so much public and private investment in local and regional food systems.
My passion for this work goes back to a childhood lived in both the rural Missouri Ozarks and urban Mannheim Germany. I learned from my Dad’s farm family in southwest Missouri how deep the roots of local commerce go. His business, Cantrell Brothers’ Garage, was also illuminating. It was not only a fix-it place but also a crossroads for our people and our common stories. Through my other home in Germany I saw that the sprawl taking over America and farmland in my lifetime did not have to be, that small shops, farmers markets, and walk-able neighborhoods are practical and delightful. Mannheim and Germany also taught me how essential human and natural relationships are when it comes to surviving war and building again.
My educational background and professional experience includes summa cum laude degrees in economics and political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a 1987 Fulbright Scholarship to study post-war economics in Germany, and an executive Masters of Business Administration from Drury College. While pursuing my MBA, I worked by day as a business reporter and columnist at the Springfield News-Leader, the metropolitan daily in Missouri’s third-largest city. I have also worked with national magazines and organizations on a freelance basis.
I live and work from the the little Village of Beulah in Benzie County, Michigan.