Planning and Community Health Center

Growing Food Connections

Awareness around the field of food systems planning has increased significantly in the last decade, and planning is the starting point. By increasing food security, strengthening economic resilience in urban and rural communities, and supporting farms engaged in sustainable practices, planners can inform new methods for reintegrating the food system.

Growing Food Connections logo

APA was a key partner in Growing Food Connections (GFC), an effort to build local government capacity to enhance food security for all. GFC had three main tasks: assess communities to understand how they improved their local food systems, provide technical assistance to Communities of Opportunity, and develop applied planning tools.

GFC was a $3.96 million initiative funded through a grant from the USDA/NIFA AFRI Food Systems Program NIFA Award #2012-68004-19894, from 2012 to 2017. GFC was led by co-investigators Samina Raja, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, University at Buffalo (project lead); Julia Freedgood, managing director of the American Farmland Trust; Kimberley Hodgson, founder and principal of Cultivating Healthy Places; and Jill Clark, assistant professor, Ohio State University.

GFC Planning and Policy Briefs

This series highlights promising planning strategies used by local governments across North America to strengthen their communities' food systems by promoting agricultural viability and healthy food access.

Local, Healthy Food Procurement Policies

Local governments can augment demand for locally produced, healthy food, and improve the availability of healthy foods through the adoption of innovative food procurement policies.

Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food

Policies, programs, and projects developed by local governments can help overcome economic barriers to the consumption of healthy, local food by incentivizing the sale of healthy and local food for all residents.

Food Aggregation, Processing, and Distribution

Food hubs play an important role in connecting farmers to larger, more diverse markets, and local governments can support the development of such comprehensive food system infrastructure.

Community Food Production

Local government can implement a number of strategies to increase the production of food for local markets, ensure that regulatory and economic climates promote more "farm friendly" environments, and grow the next generation of farmers.

Farmland Protection

Farmland is a vital local resource. This brief features a range of policy, regulatory, and programmatic approaches that planners and officials can use to protect farmland from nonfarm development.

Community Food Systems and Economic Development

Investing in local and regional food economies can support business, create jobs, and circulate money locally, and local governments have used a wide range of direct and indirect strategies to support farmers and food enterprises.

Other GFC Resources

Food Systems Reader

A collection of published resources that explore local and regional public policy challenges and opportunities related to community food production, community food security, and community food connections.

Food Policy Database

A searchable collection of local public policies that explicitly support community food systems.

**If you would like to submit a policy for potential inclusion in the database, please fill out this form. Please submit only those policies that have been officially adopted by a local government (municipality or county).

Exploring Stories of Innovation

A series of 12 briefing papers that highlight innovative food systems planning and policy work from urban and rural communities across the country.

Food Interest Group

The Food Interest Group, a group of APA members and allied professionals, is dedicated to advancing food systems planning at the local, regional, state, and national level.

To join and to learn more, visit FIG's website.