FarmLab Needs Assessment

The FarmLab project began with Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder’s vision for transitioning Crystal Valley Dairy Farms into a farm-based educational center dedicated to preserving local agricultural land and capacity.  Goals for the FarmLab include:
  • Sustaining and expands local agricultural knowledge
  • Promoting agricultural career pathways
  • Preserving agricultural land and productivity
  • Improving access to local, healthy food
  • Opening new markets for local food production
As a potential project in Elkhart County’s first Agricultural TIF district, the Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission contracted Phil Metzler and Mark Seeley to perform a feasibility study, starting with a needs assessment.  Through extensive research and interviews with key stakeholders, the FarmLab Feasibility Study provides an extensive overall local food assessment and highlights the potential for Farm to School programming to be a catalyst for building a more robust and resilient community-based food system. The main report documents the needs and opportunities associated with the above goals.  Detailed appendices explore specific issues and potential focus areas in greater detail to inform potential FarmLab activities and opportunities for the County as a whole. The full report and its appendices can also be found at
The concept map below connects the FarmLab report and its appendices to related topics in the Guide.

About The Author

Phil Metzler

As the director of the Community Resilience Guild, Phil helps design and facilitate community initiatives that build relationships and navigate complexity. A passion for building community resilience and a reverence for life guide his work.

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