Capacity Building in Urban Food Systems in the North Central Region

Progress report for ENC19-181

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $89,443.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Cary Rivard
Kansas State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

A revolution is happening in our food system due to a public that demands: local food produced sustainably; access to healthy fresh foods for all communities; a larger group of players in the foodshed such as urban farmers, community gardeners, consumers, not-for-profits, and policymakers; and resilient agricultural systems that can withstand climate change. This public mostly lives in urban areas, thus the role of urban agriculture in this renewed interest in our food system is increasingly important. The complex interactions that occur within the food system require a new generation of agricultural educators with a diverse skillset and a keen interest in collaborative partnerships. In 2009, KSU responded by launching an M.S. specialization in Urban Food Systems (UFS) within the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources. The UFS graduate program curriculum was developed with assistance from key UFS leaders and students learn directly from UFS practitioners in several venues. The goal of this project is to provide agricultural educators (extension, non-for-profits, NGOs, K-12 and community college instructors) with opportunities to diversify their professional skills and cultivate a cohort of UFS leaders to support the food revolution in the North Central Region. Short-term outcomes include increased knowledge of: sustainable methods for UFS, the impact of UFS on food security, and challenges associated with UFS. Long-term outcomes include: economic sustainability amongst food entrepreneurs in urban communities, increased health and quality of life amongst consumers and farmers, and confident and connected educators that have a holistic understanding of the Urban Food System.

Project Objectives:

Educational Materials

  • Ten quarterly webinars that will be archived on YouTube and linked at the urbanfoodsystemsymposium.org website. We expect an average audience of 150 live participants and at least 500 views per year for each webinar.
  • Content of the UFSS will be delivered to at least 50 UFS educators including the most-recent research and activities surrounding UA, community development, food distribution, urban farmer training, policy, planning and development, international UFS, food access, and sovereignty.
  • UFSS program materials and written communications (abstracts, website, etc.) delivered to at least 50 UFS educators
  • Powerpoints, publications, pictures and other teaching tools delivered to at least 50 UFS educators related to technical content topics delivered during the pre-symposium workshops.
  • Content of the food security audit for UFS will be delivered to at least 15 UFS educators
  • Detailed information from 15-18 UFS practitioners and pictures of their operations will be provided to 15 UFS educators during the UA Study Tour
  • Content of the Facebook group including posts, pictures, and discussion of relevant topics

 

Curricula

  • Gaining Ground Webinar Series curriculum that is informed by a survey of our target audience
  • Two half-day pre-symposium workshop curricula that address technical needs identified by a survey of our target audience
  • 15 UFS educators will understand how to complete a food security audit of UFS projects and understand how they contribute to food security in urban communities
  • 15 UFS educators will learn how to deliver a study tour that is based on a broad range of food systems players and utilizes a group assignment to facilitate discussion.

 

Partnerships

  • At least 2000 UFS educators will identify the KSU UFS program as a resource for information, UFS experts, professional networks, and informal mentoring as a result of the webinar series, Facebook group, UFSS, and UA Study Tour.
  • Facebook group of at least 300 UFS educators to post announcements and discuss relevant topics
  • 50 UFS educators will build professional networks through the UFSS and pre-symposium workshops.
  • Three cohorts of 5 UFS educators will develop strong professional linkages amongst themselves through the UA Study Tour.
  • 15 UFS educators will make at least 20 contacts (300 total) across three cities during the UA Study Tour.
  • 15 UFS educators will make at least 10 contacts (150 total) with faculty and students in the UFS M.S. program at KSU.

Cooperators

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Education

Educational approach:

The goal of this project is to develop a training program that will build capacity in UFS by providing UA educators and outreach specialists (extension, non-for-profits, municipalities, NGOs, K-12 and community college) with the tools they need to support the emerging area known as UFS. Therefore, we plan to include four major objectives to accomplish this goal.

  1. Gaining Ground Webinar Series
  2. Urban Food Systems Symposium
  3. Pre-Symposium Workshop
  4. Urban Agriculture Study Tour (put on hold for 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic)

 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Gaining Ground Webinar – Financing the Farm: Navigating FSA Loans
Objective:

Overview of different FSA loan programs with a focus on the best options for small and diversified urban growers. He will also discuss repayment requirements, microloan programs, and how Extension agents can help their clients.

Description:

Financing the Farm: Navigating FSA Loans presented by Brian W. Wheeler, a Farm Loan Manager from Lafayette County FSA in Higginsville, Missouri. Wheeler has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Business Management form the University of Missouri – Columbia and has over a decade of experience in farm lending. 

(8) 11 13 19 Gaining Ground Webinar – YouTube

Outcomes and impacts:

Urban Agriculture Educators are able to provide urban farmers with basic information about FSA loans and other resources available for financing a farm.

Gaining Ground Webinar – Bookeeping Tools for Farmers
Objective:

The webinar will include an overview of Quickbook and Excel with a focus on the best options for small and diversified urban growers. She will also discuss the pros and cons of both programs, additional resources and give helpful hints for growers. Gaining Ground is a free webinar series geared toward agriculture educators

Description:

Bookkeeping Tools for Farmers presented by Julia Shanks, an Entrepreneurial Consultant. Shanks earned an MBA from Babson College, is a QuickBooks certified ProAdvisor and the author of “The Farmer’s Office: Tools, Tips and Templates to Successfully Manage a Growing Farm Business”. Her online program, “The Farmer’s Office” is a successful course that helps farmers build financially sustainable businesses. 

(8) 02.12.2020 Bookkeeping for Farmers – YouTube

Outcomes and impacts:

Urban Agriculture Educators are able to provide urban farmers with basic information about bookkeeping tools and other resources for managing the business side of the farm.

Gaining Ground Webinar – Food Hubs and Alternative Markets
Objective:

The objective of this webinar is to answer the question, “What is a food hub?”. Other topics that will be covered are the pros/cons and tradeoffs of food hubs, the value of joining a food hub, and the resources that a food hub provides.

Description:

Anthony Flaccavento, Economic Development Consultant and Organic Farmer, presented at this webinar. Author of “Building a Healthy Economy from the Ground Up: Harnessing Real World Experience for Transformative Change,” Anthony Flaccavento is an economic development consultant and organic farmer from Abingdon, Virginia, in the heart of Appalachia. His consulting business, SCALE Inc., works with communities around the world to help build more locally-rooted, sustainable economies and healthier food systems. 

Outcomes and impacts:

The learning outcomes of this initiative is to go deeper into the idea of food hubs and the impact of them on the community and the food system. 

Gaining Ground Webinar – Value Added Products
Objective:

The objective of this webinar is to discuss value added production can create opportunities to increase profits, create opportunities to differentiate products in a crowded marketplace, and how we can help growers find the tools and resources to overcome obstacles.

Description:

There were three different speakers at this webinar. Jim Pierce, is the founder of “Of the Earth Farm + Distillery”, where he offers seasonal produce, hand crafted spirits, and locally raised meats. Beth Robinette works at Lazy R Ranch is Washington State. Beth is also the co-founder of LINC Foods, a worker-farmer owned cooperative food hub based in Spokane. Tom Ruggieri owns Fair Share Farm where they aim to promote community, sustainable agriculture, and healthy eating habits. 

 

Outcomes and impacts:

The learning outcome of this webinar was to provide participants with the information and resources on how to overcome obstacles related to value added products opportunities. 

Urban Food Systems Symposium 2020
Objective:

The goal of the Urban Food System Symposium is to bring together a national and international audience of professionals to share and gain knowledge on UFS.

Description:

The theme for the 2020 UFSS is “Nourishing Cities in a Changing Climate” (http://www.urbanfoodsystemssymposium.org). Topics at the symposium include UA, community development, food distribution, farmer training, policy, planning and development, international UFS, food access, and food sovereignty. The UFSS provides an opportunity for educators, researchers, students, extension, not-for-profit staff, community organizers, and other UFS experts to share their work, learn from others, and make connections with their peers. It also provides an opportunity for project participants to learn directly from practitioners working in the field. The 2020 UFSS was held virtually on the Whova platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a great success with over 200 registered participants

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees will learn about the most recent research and other projects related to UA, community development, food distribution, urban farmer training, policy, planning and development, international UFS, food access, and sovereignty during the 2020

Post-Symposium Food Policy Council Workshop
Objective:

These half-day workshops will be an interactive learning environment focused on technical topics not covered during the symposium. The workshops will be taught primarily by regional UFS practitioners and the topics covered will be informed by the survey results.

Description:

The Food Policy Council Workshop took place on November 18th, 2020 and featured speakers Mark Winne, Beth Low-Smith, Misty Jimerson, and Wynona Bynum. There were 125 registered participants. Following short talks by each of the panel members, the participants participated in breakout groups where they were assigned to discuss different topics in relation to the challenges food policy councils face. The different topics were: climate change, COVID-19, and racial inequality. 

Outcomes and impacts:

The learning outcomes of this initiative was to provide information on food policy councils from individuals who work directly with these types of groups, and discuss the challenges they face and possible solutions. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

7 Consultations
1 Online trainings
4 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Urban Food Systems Symposium, held virtually in 2020

Participation Summary:

70 Extension
28 Researchers
92 Nonprofit
21 Agency
90 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
110 Farmers/ranchers
84 Others
110 Farmers

Learning Outcomes

121 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
50 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Immediate (knowledge): This project seeks to increase knowledge amongst UFS educators about successful UFS enterprises, sustainable UA practices, the impact that individual entities have on food security, and the challenges associated with the UFS. Specific immediate outcomes include:

  1. Participants will learn technical and systems-level information for successful UFS practices through the Gaining Ground webinar series.
  2. 277 UA educators, urban farmers, researchers, and practitioners learned about the most recent research and other projects related to UA, community development, food distribution, urban farmer training, policy, planning and development, international UFS, food access, and sovereignty during the 2020 Urban Food Systems Symposium.
    1. These participants will gain perspective from UFS practitioners regarding the challenges involved with UA and what strategies can be used to overcome them.

Short Term (behavior): This project aims to better equip educator’s in disseminating knowledge regarding various topics within UA, thereby:

  1. Participants disseminate knowledge recommending sustainable practices for UA.
  2. Educators provide more recommendations based on informed decisions.
  3. More effective teaching methods are utilized by UFS educators.
  4. Extension educators, NGOs, and other food system educators will engage in peer-to-peer mentoring as a result of connections made through the project.
  5. Participants will engage experts established by the webinar, UFSS and workshops, and study tours to bring that expertise to their own communities.
  6. New UFS enterprises including non-for-profits and UA operations will engage with participants and other professional educators as a result of higher credibility in UFS.
  7. Participants and other UFS educators will engage in further professional development through online graduate programs and other training opportunities.
  8. UFS educators will successfully guide and/or implement behavior change in the food system based on the information they received from UFS practitioners during the webinar, UFSS, and UA Study Tour.

 

Long Term (conditions): This project will contribute towards a sustainable network of food entrepreneurs in urban communities, increased quality of life amongst consumers and farmers, and confident UFS educators that have strong relationships amongst their peers, stakeholders and community.

  1. Higher profitability and economic sustainability amongst food entrepreneurs in urban communities
  2. High credibility and professionalism amongst UFS educators including extension, non-for-profits, and youth educators
  3. Increased health and quality of life amongst consumers and farmers
  4. Confident educators that have a holistic understanding of UFS and the challenges that exist within UA.
  5. UFS educators who work in partnership with urban and peri-urban farmers and others on developing programs and activities that enhance the sustainability of communities and the urban food system
  6. A successful change in the food system (aka food revolution)
Additional Outcomes:

Evaluation Data Summary statements

 

Food Policy Council Workshop (November 18, 2020)

  • 72% of participants would recommend the workshop to a colleague
  • 65% of attendees had previously worked to advance food policy councils in their communities whereas 85% plan to after the workshop
  • 80% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the workshop improved their knowledge and understanding of food policy councils

Urban Food Systems Symposium (October 2020)

  • 20% of survey respondents indicated that they joined the conference to learn about what is going on in UA in other areas of the country and the world
  • 20.75% of survey respondents indicated that they joined the conference to be exposed to the latest research in urban food systems 
  • 66% of survey respondents indicated that they would recommend the Urban Food Systems symposium to colleagues
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.