Guåhan Sustainable Culture Collaborates for the Island and Remote Areas USDA Regional Food Business Center

October 2, 2023

Guåhan Sustainable Culture (GSC) is collaborating with Hawai’i Good Food Alliance (HGFA) to establish the Islands and Remote Areas USDA Regional Food Business Center (RFBC). This RFBC will serve Hawai’i, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Alaska, Puerto Rico and The US Virgin Islands. 

This Regional Food Business Center is 1 of 12 new USDA Regional Food Business Centers that will provide national coverage coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources, thereby closing the gaps to success. 

On September 26, GSC along with Hawai’i Good Food Alliance, recipients of the RFBC grant, conducted a needs assessment workshop with Guam community partners. On September 28, the same workshop was then conducted in Saipan with the local farming community. 

According to GSC Co-Founder and President Michelle Crisostomo, “The specific services and resources offered by regional food business centers will vary depending on the goals and priorities of the region and the needs of the local food community.” She also emphasized, “Getting input from stakeholders in the planning phase is crucial to fostering the growth of our regional food economies, supporting local food entrepreneurs, and promoting sustainable and locally sourced food here in Guam and the CNMI.”

This partnership represents the first time US territories have been able to join forces in building a program that seeks to support the unique needs and circumstances that farmers face in US territories and remote areas. 

“This initial planning phase was an important step forward in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in our local agricultural economy with the aim of creating and building a more resilient and reliable food system on Guam. This is a crucial initiative in order to achieve food security for the island” said workshop participant Ilene Iriarte, County Executive Director for USDA Farm Service Agency – Hawaii & Pacific Basin.