Growing Food Connections

Building local government capacity to support agriculture and promote food access.


While many Americans struggle to gain access to healthful, affordable and culturally acceptable foods, many farmers and ranchers struggle to survive.

Growing Food Connections is a landmark, five-year national project addressing these interconnected challenges of community food security and agricultural vitality through public policy and planning.

AFT and our partners will assist county governments in eight communities – both rural and urban – to address local policies to better serve family farmers and community residents

American Farmland Trust's Role

AFT spearheads the Planning and Policy part of the initiative. AFT is working with eight Communities of Opportunity to provide customized training and technical assistance to set goals and carry out their visions for improving their community food systems.

The eight Communities of Opportunity are:

  • Chautauqua County, New York (Jamestown)
  • Cumberland County, Maine (Portland)
  • Dougherty County, Georgia (Albany)
  • Doña Ana County, New Mexico (Las Cruces)
  • Douglas County, Nebraska (Omaha)
  • Luna County, New Mexico (Deming)
  • Polk County, North Carolina (Columbus)
  • Wyandotte County, Kansas (Kansas City)

Initiative Components

National Advisory Committee

AFT coordinates a National Advisory Committee, representing various interests in the food system. These national thought leaders and innovators include:

Principal Investigators

Four Principal Investigators and a program team lead the research, practice and education activities of Growing Food Connections:

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

Julia Freedgood, MA
Assistant Vice President of Programs, American Farmland Trust

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

Samina Raja, PhD
Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab

This project is dedicated to Professor Jerome Kaufman, FAICP

Learn More About Growing Food Connections

Learn More
Growing Food Connections is funded by award #2012-68004-19894, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.