Faces of Food Systems Planning: Kajsa Beatty
Job: Hubert H Humphrey Masters of Urban and Regional Planning Student and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of Agriculture at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- What’s your favorite food?
Anything with pesto on it!
- What do you enjoy about your work?
I love getting to meet all the people who work in agriculture in Minnesota through my work with the department of Agriculture. I have learned so much about the food system that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. For school, I love getting to learn more about the theories of public engagement and planning with the public.
- Similarly, what do you find challenging about your work?
Sometimes it is fast paced and I have to be ready to scrap something that was being worked on that is no longer happening. For school, It’s challenging to learn about the breadth of planning after learning about the breadth of food systems. It makes it hard to focus on one part when you know all the systems connect and affect each other.
- What areas of the food system do you focus on in your work, and where does that fit in with the rest of the work that you do?
At MDA we are focused on regulation, promotion and supporting of agriculture in the state of Minnesota. The work we do impacts all Minnesotans, and I try to keep that in mind everyday. I am going back to school for my planning degree to learn how to incorporate food systems into planning processes. My hope is to regionalize our food system and to get more people growing food.
- Do you consider yourself a food systems planner? Why or why not?
In the making! My undergrad degree is in food systems and I am going back to school to get my masters in planning. In two years I will!
- What is the biggest food systems planning-related hurdle your community/organization faced in recent years and how was it dealt with?
The meat processing issues that were caused by Covid-19 has sparked a major reinvestment in local, small and mid-sized meat processors in the state of Minnesota. This will allow smaller farmers to produce meat for their communities at an affordable price and lessen our reliance on industrial meat processors.
- How has your perception of food systems planning changed since you first entered the planning field?
After learning more about planning this semester, food systems planning is one tiny piece of the planning puzzle. It is not normally thought of as planning and I feel like a bit of an odd duck at school, but hopefully that changes more in the future!
- Who has had the most influence on you as a planner? As a food systems planner?
Not a professional answer, but my mom! I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mom instilled and exposed me to so many things that shaped how I view the world. Currently I am learning so many new things that are easier to understand because of the context I can put them in. Also my professor Rob King who included Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows in his course and it helped me think about systems problems in a whole new way.
- Do you have any advice for someone entering the food systems planning field?
Don’t limit yourself to learning about only certain parts of the food system. We know some parts of it are harmful to the environment and people, but it should still be understood so you can be a part of the solution. And its all connected!
- What do you wish you would have known before going to planning school?
GIS! The learning curve is steep.