Economic vitality is crucial to any community. In the past century, many rural towns have relied on small industries that have now closed or relocated in the face of global competition. Agriculture has faced similar economic challenges; small-scale farmers, who once provided diverse products for a stable regional market, must now compete with large corporations better suited to a world market.

A declining economy means fewer jobs and rising unemployment. Young people who once remained in the local community now leave for educational opportunities, military careers, or the hope of better financial prospects in the city. The once vibrant downtown that served as a center of commerce and sociability declines.

Rural by Design has launched a series of internships to develop new farming initiatives to advance a sustainable local food system that offers a dependable alternative to raising commodities for the global market. Interns work with young farmers to help insure new generation committed to agriculture.