Capacity Building in Urban Food Systems in the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $89,443.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Cary Rivard
Kansas State University

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: business planning, cooperatives, financial management, land access, marketing management, new enterprise development, value added, bookkeeping
  • Natural Resources/Environment: Urban Agriculture
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, aquaponics, hydroponics, permaculture
  • Sustainable Communities: food hubs, local and regional food systems, public policy, quality of life, social capital, social networks, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, values-based supply chains

    Proposal 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 from proposal:

    Educational Materials

    • Ten quarterly webinars that will be archived on YouTube and linked at the 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



    • 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.



    • 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.
    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.