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Growing Food Connections: Building Local Government Capacity to Support Agriculture and Promote Food Access

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Logic ModelGrowing Food Connections is a five-year integrated research, extension and education initiative to strengthen food systems in the United States. It seeks to build local governments’ capacity and develop public policy tools to promote community food security and agricultural viability.

Funded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the initiative is one of 28 Fiscal year 2012 grants awarded to "help policymakers and others better recognize the food and nutrition needs of low-income communities in our country, while improving the productivity of our nation's agriculture to meet those needs" (USDA, 2013).

Working with lead partners, State University of New York-Buffalo, Ohio State University, and Cultivating Healthy Places, American Farmland Trust will expand our Planning for Agriculture toolbox to improve economic opportunities for small and mid-sized farmers engaged in food production and incorporate successful models that address the needs of the most food insecure populations in both urban and rural communities.

About Growing Food Connections

The overarching goal of this project is to enhance food security while ensuring sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food production. This requires, in part, removing public policy barriers and deploying innovative public policy tools.

The Growing Food Connections collaborators have begun a national study of innovative food systems plans and policies that simultaneously promote food access and strengthen local and regional agriculture. Drawing on lessons learned from the successes and challenges of these policies, the team will develop evidence-based policy tools and provide technical assistance to 20 vulnerable urban and rural communities across the four Census regions of the United States. The technical assistance is designed to build the capacity of local government staff, extension educators, community partners, farmers and consumers to develop and implement more effective food system policies. Finally, the team will be developing graduate level curriculum in food system planning and piloting coursework in 10 partner universities

American Farmland Trust's Role

One of American Farmland Trust's key roles is to create, convene and manage a diverse National Advisory Committee which represents various interests in the food system. Toward that end, American Farmland Trust has assembled a diverse group of national thought leaders and innovators who have agreed to be part of the committee. Our first meeting is June 6, 2013 in Buffalo.

National Advisory Committee

Will Allen, McArthur Genius award-winning founder of Growing Power;

Timothy Griffin, director of the Ag Food and Environment graduate program in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University;

Mary Hendrickson, rural food systems extension expert from University of Missouri;

Young Kim, executive director of Fondy farm-to-fork Food Center;

Fred Kirschenmann, North Dakota farmer and leader in sustainable agriculture associated with the Leopold Center and Stone Barns;

Kami Pothukuchi Wayne State University professor and leader in food system planning who helped draft APA’s policy guide on Community and Regional Food Planning

Louie Rivers, Jr., program director of the Small Farmer Outreach Training and Technical Assistance Program at Kentucky State University, an 1890 Institution; and

Eduardo Sanchez, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of the American Heart Association

Principal Investigators


Jill Clark, PhD                                                                                                        Assistant Professor, John Glenn School of Public Affairs,                                       Ohio State University

Julia Freedgood, MA                                                                                                Director, Farmland and Community Intitiatives                                              American Farmland Trust

Kimberley Hodgson, MURP, MS, AICP,RD                                                                Principal, Cultivating Healthy Places

Samina Raja, PhD                                                                                                  Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning                                               Principal, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab University at Buffalo, The School of Architecture and Planning (Project Lead)



American Planning Association

Cultivating Healthy Places

Ohio State University

University at Buffalo

National Advisory Committee

Subject Matter Experts [Coming soon]



Project Website: Growing Food Connections


                     Jerome Kaufman This project is dedicated to Prof. Jerome Kaufman, FAICP






American Farmland Trust