Farm Bill Issue Briefing

Join APA’s Policy and Advocacy team for a timely Planners’ Advocacy Network briefing on legislative action to reauthorize the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, the United States’ primary agricultural and food policy tool, is set to expire at the end of September. Learn about differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill and what’s next now that Congress is back from July 4 recess, how the final bill could impact local planning efforts, and what planners can do now to shape the debate in Congress. Register for the free webinar today:

And if you care about food systems and planning, don’t forget to sign FIG’s APA Division petition here:

Help FIG Become an Official APA Division

The APA-FIG Leadership Committee is pursuing status as an APA Division. To make this happen we are required to complete APA’s official petition. We need 300 signatures and, so far,  we’re over half way there with 160 signatures. Help us reach our goal of 200 by August 1!

Here’s four easy ways to help!

  1. Sign the petition. (Note: you must be an APA member to sign the petition).
  2. Share the petition with other APA members of your regional or state APA chapters.
  3. Share with your colleagues through our Facebook and Twitter posts.
  4. Support the leadership committee as we make the transition from an interest group to a division. Please email Kara Martin at

Why become a division?

Last fall we survey APA-FIG members online and over 94% were support becoming an official division. Here’s why in a nutshell:

Food is a sustaining and enduring necessity. Yet among the basic essentials for life — air, water, shelter, and food — only food has been absent as a focus of serious professional planning interest. With the 2007 adoption of the Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning, the American Planning Association signaled its intent to include the food system as a critical area of planning interest. Since 2007, APA has provided a steady and growing body of guidance on community and regional food systems planning (e.g. PAS Reports, Memos, Essential Info Packets, and, importantly, the creation of APA’s Food Systems Interest Group (APA-FIG) in 2009). This collective guidance has helped bring to the forefront the cross-sectional impact of food systems on community and regional planning as a critical component of a healthy, sustainable, and resilient community.

What we will do as a division?

As a Division, our fundamental goal is to help planners build stronger, more just, equitable, and self-reliant local, community, and regional food systems. By serving as a platform for collaboration, information, and leadership, we will:

  • Advance the profession of food systems planning so that it is recognized as a core area of community and regional planning practices.
  • Integrate principles of food systems planning with more traditional planning practices of  land use, transportation, economic development, parks and recreation, housing, and other areas of mainstream planning practice.
  • Provide leadership and intellectual resources to APA members and staff on food systems planning policies and issues.
  • Host networking, resource sharing, education, and professional development and mentoring opportunities to new and seasoned planners and allied professionals.
  • Engage other planners and allied professionals to shape local, state, regional, and federal food policy.

Please support APA-FIG as we take this next big step together!


APA-FIG Leadership Committee

Washington State Food Systems Roundtable Releases 25-year Vision for Food System

WA_FS_Prospectus_072417_FINALThe Washington State Food Systems Roundtable (RT) recently released the long-awaited Prospectus, which presents a 25-year vision for Washington State’s Food System. The Roundtable was a broad, diverse coalition of public and private partners committed to creating a food system that promotes the health of people, fosters a sustainable and resilient environment, is economically vibrant, and creates an equitable and just society. The Roundtable prided itself on its broad representation, including government, Tribes, local food policy councils, agriculture, food enterprises, labor, anti-hunger and nutrition advocates, economic development organizations, academia, public health, philanthropy and others.

This Prospectus is a road map for how Washington might achieve this vision and provides a framework for collaboration, engagement and shared responsibility. The Prospectus provides the opportunity for alignment across sectors, distributed leadership, and continued development of strategies over time. Washington’s Prospectus is not the first state to have undergone a statewide food systems planning effort. In 2006, the Michigan Food Policy Council produced a report of recommendations, and, in 2015, Vermont released its ten year Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. These plans have moved forward in implementation through the support of backbone organization. A local organization, Food Action, will steward Washington’s Prospectus and begin bringing the strategies into fruition.

July will be Dedicated to Food Systems Planning!

Throughout the month of July 2016, the American Planning Association (APA) will highlight and promote food systems planning.  In an effort to support this exciting campaign, the APA Food Systems Planning Interest Group (APA-FIG) will feature food systems planning related content across its blog and social media platforms.  We will post interviews with practicing planners and people working across the food system, showcase food systems research, and more.  Stay tuned for interviews with food systems planners from across the country, including but not limited to:

  • Sharon Lerman, City of Seattle
  • Ben Kerrick, Karen Karp and Partners (New York)
  • Branden Born, University of Washington Department of Urban Design and Planning

Join the conversation! We welcome your submissions – share comments, images, articles, research, and tell us about your work.  Join us on Facebook, Twitter (@APA_FIG or @APA_Planning), Instagram (@foodsystemsplanning), LinkedIn, and be sure to check out the FIG blog.  Use the hashtag #foodsystemsplanning when you post and tag APA-FIG.

Aetna Foundation Announces 2016 Cultivating Healthy Communities Grant Program

aetnapicAetna Foundation just announced their 2016 Cultivating Healthy Communities grant program. To empower whole communities to lead healthier lives, their programming is focused on five domains:

  • Healthy Behaviors
  • Community Safety
  • Built Environment
  • Social/Economic Factors
  • Environmental Exposures

There is one RFP for the year and Aetna expects to award up to $2 million in grants to organizations in the continental United States through this program.

Faces of Food System Planning: Laura Raymond

LR head shot 1

Laura Raymond is a Commerce Specialist for Small Farm Direct Marketing with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. In her previous position at the City of Seattle, Laura founded and led the City’s Food System Interdepartmental Team to address food-related health, environmental, and social justice issues, resulting in creation of the Seattle Food Action Initiative and Plan.

Andrea Petzel, member of the APA-FIG Leadership Committee, conducted this interview in October 2015.


What is your current position?

My position is funded by a federal Specialty Crop Block Grant and my role is to help small and direct marketing farms extend their markets within Washington State’s local and regional food system. These are farms that are selling direct to consumers and more directly to retailers or food services. Our state is unusual because we have so many small and mid-sized farms that grow specialty produce crops and 95% of farms in Washington State are considered small farms.

Through extensive outreach I provide farmers with technical assistance to help navigate regulations and permits, and I help them develop marketing strategies and basic best practices for their businesses. There are so many levels of jurisdiction that intersect with growing and selling food, and we help make it easy for farmers to understand.

What do you enjoy about your work?

Working with farmers and learning about their particular farms, businesses, and how they’re making it work. There’s so much diversity in people, places and crops, and farmers are really committed; it’s not the easiest place to make it work and they do it because they love it and that’s really inspiring. I also really enjoy being part of re-creating a viable regional food economy.

What do you find challenging about your work?

There aren’t always easy solutions and there’s so much regulation, with good reason. But it can be difficult in the moment, when helping a farmer who is doing important, hard work, to remember there’s a good reason for a particular rule. Also, over the last 60 years agriculture and food systems have really been evolved towards to be large scale, industrially-modeled, and globally-oriented. But now there’s growing consumer interest for fresh, healthy food and this means more opportunity for small local farms. In our state increasing numbers of young people are bucking long term trends and are getting into farming. It’s exciting that people think farming is a good way to make their livelihood, and local governments are starting to pay attention and trying to be creative about creating and keeping a vibrant local farming scene.

Do you consider yourself a food systems planner?

No – I’m not sure who the food systems planners really are! Food systems are so vast and interconnected, and are really are about the overlap of food, health, culture, transportation, and land use. Good policy needs input from all those sectors.

Do you have any advice for someone entering the food systems field?

Find the thing you really care about and work on it. Find what you can do, connect with other people and do it! There are so many fields that interconnect with food; you can be a graphic designer and work in food systems!

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. Click here for more information.


Kresge Foundation Launches Food-Oriented Grant Opportunity

This week Kresge Foundation announced a new initiative – “Fresh, Local & Equitable: Food as a Creative Platform for Neighborhood Revitalization.” They will award up to 20 planning grants of up to $75,000 each in the first quarter of 2016. Planning grants “may support project management, partnership development, community engagement, strategic communications, evaluation, policy development and other activities directly related to successful outcomes.” Grant funds may not be used for capital construction costs, real estate acquisition or the purchase of major equipment.

Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, December 14. To learn more about the initiative and the request for proposal, click here.

What is APA-FIG all about?

At this spring’s annual APA-FIG meeting held at the APA National Conference in Seattle, this question was posed several times by the 25-plus participants in the room. The annual meeting’s agenda was focused on reviewing and providing feedback for the workplans of the four working groups (Policy, Education, Communication and Outreach, and Research) that were just launched the beginning of 2015. It became clear in discussing the goals and action items for each group over the coming year that APA-FIG needed to clarify the group’s overall purpose.

APA-FIG Leadership Team took the question to heart and dedicated time discussing the interest group’s mission and key goals. The mission of FIG is to help build stronger, more sustainable, just, equitable, self-reliant, and resilient community and regional food systems that, through planning practice, are integrated with other community systems, for present and future generations. Our overarching goals are to 1) support the advancement of food systems planning and 2) Strengthen the profession of food systems planning. For more details, click here.

We feel the mission and goals reflect the group’s purpose and will provide guidance in our efforts moving forward. We’re excited for the work and opportunities in the coming year as we continue to build the network. If you’re interested in joining FIG and getting involved with one of our working groups, let us know!

Exploring Stories of Innovation: Local Government Food Systems Planning and Policy

Growing Food Connections announced Exploring Stories of Innovation, a series of short articles that explore how local governments from across the United States are strengthening their community’s food system through planning and policy.

Beginning in 2012, Growing Food Connections (GFC) conducted a national scan and identified 299 local governments across the United States that are developing and implementing a range of innovative plans, public programs, regulations, laws, financial investments and other policies to strengthen the food system. GFC conducted exploratory telephone interviews with 20 of these local governments. This series will highlight some of the unique planning and policy strategies used by these urban and rural local governments to enhance community food security while ensuring sustainable and economically viable agriculture and food production. The first four articles in the series feature Seattle, WA; Baltimore, MD; Cabarrus County, NC; and Lancaster County, PA.

For more information and to download these free articles, visit

Growing Food Connections is made possible with a grant from the USDA /NIFA AFRI Food Systems Program NIFA Award #2012-68004-19894. Partners include American Farmland Trust, American Planning Association, Cultivating Healthy Places, Ohio State University, and University at Buffalo.

Jobs Round-up – January 26, 2015

We added several new job listings to the Jobs Page. Visit the page to see full-time and part-time jobs from Wholesome Wave, Organic Farming Research Foundation, and Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.

New jobs postings are added on an ongoing basis.  Always check with the employer for the most recent job description, posting date, and application deadline.