As a small farmer who lives and breathes this challenge every day, (to find out more about what we do go to http://www.symarafarm.com.au or look for us on Facebook) I would like to share a few thoughts.
Firstly, there is plenty of demand for food produced by farmers prepared to be connected, the tools to facilitate the trade are readily available, there just aren't enough farmers.
From the producer's perspective it is easy to connect with the people who eat your food, you just have to sell it directly to them. It's that easy. Web based systems for ordering and communicating with customers make farm direct marketing easier than it has ever been.
Take the fantastic produce grown by a diverse vegetable farm partnering with a good fruit grower, artisan baker, grass based livestock producer, add a web ordering system so customers can cherry pick and you have a connected food system.
We used to have a connected food system, and at it's base were smaller producers. A significant part of the problem as I see it is that decades of cost /price squeeze has driven the vast majority of these smaller farmers out of business, so that most of the food we eat now is produced by big operations with little interest in connecting with the families that eat their food.
Which brings us back to 'we need more farmers', and anything which will help entice bright people into farming should be supported.
And now, back to living the challenge, Cheers, Ray