Growing Local: Strengthening Food Systems Through Planning and Policy


Local governments are becoming increasingly involved in planning and policy making for community food systems, both as leaders and as partners with the private sector. Often responding to community pressure, in some cases they are the driving force, motivated by a desire to strengthen local economies, improve food security and nutritional outcomes, and to support agriculture and preserve farmland…

For the entire blog post, check out the American Planning Association’s website here.

Request for Information from Organizations Interested in or Operating Mobile Produce Markets

The University at Buffalo in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Nutrition Partnership’s Veggie Van program are developing a toolkit and technical assistance program for new mobile produce markets across the county. We are looking for mobile produce markets at different stages of planning and operation to both assist with the toolkit development (for more established mobile markets) and to potentially receive technical assistance (for new or developing mobile markets). We anticipate that funding will be available for organizations at both levels.

If you represent an organization that is planning or operating a mobile produce market, please complete this brief survey to help us better understand the types of mobile market programs that currently exist and to identify potential partnerships.

Link to survey:

Please note: For the purpose of this survey, a mobile produce market is defined by sales of fresh produce at multiple non-permanent locations (or delivered to people’s homes) by an organization that is not the primary producer (i.e., farmer).

For additional information contact: Lucia A. Leone, PhD

Assistant Professor of Community Health and Health Behavior

School of Public Health and Health Professions

University at Buffalo, State University of New York

City Region Food Systems: Join the Call for Global Action


Image Source: City Region Food Systems

City Region Food Systems (CRFS) is an international initiative that was established by a range of international organizations* to improve rural-urban connectivity in sustainable food systems work.

City region food systems encompass the complex network of actors, processes and relationships to do with food production, processing, marketing, and consumption that exist in a given geographical region that includes a more or less concentrated urban centre and its surrounding peri- urban and rural hinterland; a regional landscape across which flows of people, goods and ecosystem services are managed.

The term ‘City region’ refers not only to megacities and the immediate, proximate rural and agricultural areas surrounding them, but also to small and medium-sized towns that can serve to link the more remote small-scale producers and their agricultural value chains to urban centers and markets in developing countries.

A city region food system approach recognizes that there is great diversity between contexts, the nature of urbanization, sizes of urban centre (from small and intermediate towns to megacities), types of food systems, and nature of ties with the surrounding countryside and rural populations.

Join the Call for Global Action!

The strengthening of city regional food systems can play a key role in helping to feed an increasingly urbanized world in ways that are sustainable, resilient, fair and healthy and that help to create the Future We Want. Human settlements from villages and small towns to cities are expanding. The importance of territorial or landscape approaches to food systems development is increasingly recognized, but city regions, and the rural urban linkages that they represent, are not yet prominent in international dialogue on the future of food and nutrition security. A concerted effort is therefore required to enable these approaches to help shape the future of our food security and the healthy rural urban linkages upon which future well-being depends. This joint effort will require co-operation between subnational and local authorities associations, civil society and producer organizations in both rural agriculture-based and urban communities, the private sector, international organizations and the donor community. This multi-sector and multi-stakeholder effort will also need to collaborate with all levels of government, integrating economic, ecological, territorial and rights-based approaches.

Join the Call for Global Action for stakeholders across the world to engage in a concerted global effort in order to:
1. Increase awareness of the value and importance of CRFS
2. Develop and exchange knowledge on how to protect, support and further develop CRFS
3. Catalyze further action on the ground

Sign-up to today, by filling out the form on this webpage:


For more information about CRFS, visit

*This collaboration was initiated with the support of FAO Food for cities initiative, Global Food Security Cluster/Urban Working Group, Habitat International Coalition (HIC), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, ILO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Urban Food Network (IUFN), International network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food security (RUAF), UN-Habitat, United Nations Capital Development (UNCDF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP) and Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit (ISU).

Food Well Alliance: Changing the Food System from the Ground Up

Food Well Alliance ATL1 Food Well Alliance ATL2

The Food Well Alliance is an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization formed in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) that connects members of the local food movement around building healthier communities, strengthening the local food system and improving lives.   The Alliance amplifies and accelerates metro Atlanta’s local food movement by hosting and organizing events, facilitating working groups and projects, making grants, and providing resources and information to the community at large.

Food Well Alliance serves three primary roles: to connect, to promote, and to mobilize. One of its main purposes is to create a space for nonprofits, community organizers, educators, entrepreneurs, and growers to learn about what others are doing around local food in Atlanta and how the community can align its efforts, identify challenges and barriers, and work collaboratively to strengthen the local food system.  Food Well Alliance provides opportunity to use the collective impact model to hear the local food community’s voice, cooperatively design a solution or program, and then mobilize the resources and funding to implement those solutions.

Young as the Alliance may be, it is deeply rooted in Atlanta’s food system.  It’s Advisory Committee includes a veritable who’s who of Atlanta area food systems, including Bill Bolling, Founder and former Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, representatives from the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Captain Planet, Georgia Organics, and many others (for a full list, click here).

The Alliance has been working hard to assess the needs of the local food community and recently celebrated its first year with a Healthy Soil Festival.  Hundreds of people attended, celebrating efforts to provide greater access to healthy food and learning about the importance of healthy soil – the foundation of a sustainable garden and good food production.

The festival was part of the Alliance’s Healthy Soil, Healthy Community initiative – a series of workshops, demonstrations, soil testing, and other activities organized in partnership with numerous community organizations to support the growth of community gardens and raise awareness about the importance of healthy soil and composting. The initiative offered 30 free public workshops across 5 counties of Metro Atlanta to educate gardeners on the elements of living soil and methods to build soil.  The partners jointly designed a resource guide for Healthy Soil, provided composting signs and bins, and distributed local compost to over 50 community gardens in the region.   Click here for a list of partners.

To strengthen and expand the capacity of local food innovators and entrepreneurs, the Food Well Alliance has partnered with Atlanta’s Center for Civic Innovation to create the Food Innovation Network – a formal network of entrepreneurs, educators, and community organizers dedicated to growing and using local food, starting a food business, nutrition and health, and food access.  The network offers events, trainings, one-on-one advising, and encourages participants to share resources and ideas to help build a stronger Atlanta food system.


Connection to Food System Planning:

Food systems planning will be critical to the success of Food Well Alliance.  An assessment of the current landscape is needed in order to have baseline data, to evaluate and measure impact, and to create a roadmap for going forward.  But first, Food Well Alliance is working to convene all of these organizations and people together to explain how collective impact could work in this context, how it serves their needs, and how to best align efforts to bring greater participation and investment to the local food movement in Atlanta.

Throughout the course of its first year, Food Well Alliance discovered a common obstacle to improving food systems: the silo effect. So many people diligently working with local food know that they are part of an interconnected web of educators, producers, consumers, and distributors but they don’t necessarily see it within a local food system framework.  But rather than view this as a barrier, the Alliance chose to view this as an opportunity – coming to a common understanding of what the local food system is, why each piece is important, and how they are all needed for the whole to be successful.

The Community Gardens working group was the first effort to convene a group around a collective impact approach to assess and prioritize community needs.  This group of 7 nonprofit and education leaders shaped the goals and design of the Healthy Soil, Healthy Community Initiative and will do an evaluation of the process and program this winter.  Other working groups are currently in development for 2016, based on priorities and challenges identified by the community.

To learn more, visit Food Well Alliance or find us on Facebook.


Photos courtesy of Seanna Berry and Food Well Alliance

Seanna Berry works on research and development at Food Well Alliance and has written on food systems issues nationally and in AtlantaPrior to earning her graduate degree in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech, she worked in community food systems growing, processing, selling, and distributing fresh local food. She sees great opportunities to incorporate agriculture into how we shape our neighborhoods and regions.

Erin Thoresen (@ELThoresen) loves food, travel, and thinks a lot about what makes a “good” place. Her work has brought these interests together in food systems planning – helping launch youth-staffed farmers’ markets with Sustainable Long Island and serving on the Suffolk County Food Policy Council. She now works in transportation at Gresham, Smith and Partners in Atlanta and continues her involvement with food systems through APA-FIG.

Produce Incentives Expand from Farmers’ Markets to Grocery Stores


Kansas City supermarkets are testing a program that doubles low-income shoppers spending on local produce. Photo by Patty Cantrell.

A popular incentive for low-income shoppers at farmers markets is moving into grocery stores. The expansion promises nourishment for both rural and urban areas.

Around 5,000 low-income shoppers used the program from June through August in a trial run at four Price Chopper supermarkets in metro Kansas City. They spent nearly $30,000 on produce, mostly from smaller scale farmers in the region.

“This is economic development,” said Mark Holland, mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas. “It benefits the farmers selling local produce. It helps people who need it most to stretch their food dollars. It also benefits grocery stores; it brings people into the store.”

The Double Up Food Bucks retail expansion in Kansas City provides shoppers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamp) benefits with a dollar-for-dollar match on their Price Chopper loyalty cards when they buy up to $25 a day of locally produced fruits and vegetables. They can then use the extra money to buy more of any produce, doubling the amount of healthy food they take home.

“It fit right in with our loyalty card program,” said Mike Beal, chief operating officer for Balls Food Stores, a regional family-owned chain with 15 Price Chopper and 11 Hen House supermarkets in the Kansas City area.

Farmers are also feeling the love.

Balls buys from more than 150 farmers through Good Natured Family Farms. The regional marketing cooperative, or food hub, supplies local products for every department, from produce, dairy and meats to honey and other items like jams and pickles.

Diana Endicott, president of Good Natured Family Farms, said the group’s produce sales are up 20 to 30 percent at the four Double Up Food Bucks test stores.

By Patty Cantrell, Regional Food Solutions

Originally Published 9/18/15 – full article at

RFQP: Upper Peninsula Multi-Species Processing Feasibility Study

The Upper Peninsula Multi-species Processing Feasibility Study Project is a cooperative venture between several stakeholders including Marquette County, Upper Peninsula Food Exchange, Farm Bureau, and regional planning organizations.

MDARD awarded Marquette County an $127,300 Strategic Growth Initiative (SGI) grant aimed to address the lack of USDA multi-species processing in the Upper Peninsula. The grant will be managed and administered by the County of Marquette with a substantial portion of it to be used to fund a study to assess the feasibility of an USDA inspected multi-species processing facility(s) in the Upper Peninsula.

As part of this process, Marquette County is issuing this Request For Qualifications & Proposals (RFQP) from qualified firms to conduct a substantial portion of the work scope of MDARD SGI Grant. The deadline for proposals is December 10, 2015.

For more information and to learn how to submit a proposal, click here.

UNFAO: Integrating Food into Urban Planning

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) of the University College London have agreed to collaborate on the development of a book “Integrating food into urban planning” and to launch the call for contribution (the call is downloadable here).

Through this call, FAO and DPU welcome conceptual and practical contributions from researchers, experts, urban practitioners or local decision makers on successful experiences and case studies related to the integration of food into urban planning. The call keeps an open approach to the various planning practices be it strategic planning, sectorial or inter-sectorial or spatial planning. One of the objectives of the call is precisely to make visible and reflect upon the various ways food systems planning links up with different planning practises.

Selected papers should be submitted in English and will be published in electronic format as an ebook and most probably printed as a book.

Key dates and deadlines:

Deadline for submission of a 300 to 500 words abstract: November 30 2015.

Notification of selected abstracts: December 15 2015

Deadline for submission of full contribution [up to 5 000 words]: February 15 2016.

Notification of outcome: February 28 2016.

What Feeds Us: How Food Fuels Vancouver


A sustainable food system is essential to nourishing a healthy city. The City of Vancouver, Canada launched its Food Strategy in January 2013, the culmination of 10+ years of policy, planning and community work to build a healthy, just and sustainable food system. Check out the video showcasing its big impact in Vancouver so far! To learn more, visit

The City of Vancouver extends a huge thanks to their partners: none of this would be possible without the creativity and dedication of countless individuals, community groups, and local businesses, including Sole Food Street FarmsGordon Neighbourhood House, and Inner City Farms.