Faces of Food Systems Planning: Andrea Petzel

APetzel.jpgAndrea Petzel, AICP, is the principal of Broadview Planning, a women-owned consulting firm specializing in community planning and public engagement. Before founding Broadview Planning in 2014, Andrea was a project manager and senior urban planner for the City of Seattle. During her time at the City of Seattle, Andrea led the legislative process for the city’s Urban Agriculture Ordinance, one of the nation’s first comprehensive urban agriculture ordinances aimed at removing barriers to growing and producing local food. In 2016, Andrea made the shift from policy to practice by starting her own backyard urban farm, Alouette Acres.

Andrea serves on APA-FIG’s Leadership Committee and was interviewed by Valerie Pacino on February 28, 2017.

How long have you been in this position? I founded Broadview Planning three years ago after leaving a position with the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. While I was at the City of Seattle, I was lucky to work on a wide range of policy projects, from food systems and health impact assessments to energy efficiency and workforce development. When I left, I was eager to find a new opportunity to continue to work on a wide range of policy and public process projects. I quickly realized consulting was the best fit for my skills and interests, and so I created that role for myself by starting my own firm.

Do you consider yourself a food systems planner? No, I consider myself a traditional land use planner, but I seek out projects at the nexus of health, sustainability, and the built environment. I’ve been really lucky to work on some exciting food systems work, but I wouldn’t say I’m a food systems planner.

How did you get involved in food systems planning? Through my work on the City of Seattle’s Urban Agriculture ordinance, the goal of which was to reduce code barriers to growing and selling food in city. Through the policy development process, I was introduced to a great network of food systems planners, academics, urban farmers, and non-profit organizations all working towards a shared goal of increasing access to local grown, healthy food. It was a really exciting project, because at the time no other city had legislated a comprehensive approach to allowing urban agriculture in the city. It was thrilling to lead such a creative and collaborative policy development process that laid the groundwork for a much larger conversation about health and planning at the City of Seattle. The success of the Urban Agriculture ordinance led us to pursing federal funding to develop Seattle’s Healthy Living Assessment (HLA), a framework to assess health impacts at the neighborhood level. We worked to create clear, measurable metrics to assess community health at the neighborhood level using data that was easy to access, and readily used by community members in order to track progress toward health outcomes. The project was awarded a 2013 National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice from APA.

What do you enjoy about your work? The range of projects I get to work on brings me joy, and I thrive on bringing a health and food systems perspective to new clients and projects. I also love learning new things and thinking through new ideas, so I launched my own urban farm endeavor, and watching how policy translates into the real-life practice of growing and selling food is fascinating.

What do you find challenging about your work? Definitely getting people to make the link between food systems and the built environment. Also getting policy makers to embrace genuine community engagement in order to understand the very real challenges of people doing the work they’re trying to legislate.

Any advice to people who want to work in food systems planning? I believe a solid grounding in traditional land use planning is essential. Find a network of people doing the work you’re interested in and engage with them however you can – be curious, persistent, and helpful. Join APA-FIG! Also, find out what’s happen in your community and get involved with local projects.

Faces of Food Systems Planning is a series of interviews with practicing planners from across North America who are engaging in food systems planning and policy work. This series is part of APA-FIG’s efforts to highlight food systems planning as an important planning topic. The APA will be featuring 8 food system planners at the National Planning Conference this May 2017 in a special “Faces of Food Systems Planning Session”. Click here for more information.

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