Faces of Food Systems Planning: Kara Martin

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Kara Martin recently became the Program Director for the Food Innovation Network (FIN) based in south King County, WA. Previously, Kara was a food systems planning consultant who worked independently since 2009. Based in Seattle, Kara works with communities to create equitable, vibrant places for people to lead healthy lives.

Kara serves on APA-FIG’s Leadership Committee and was interviewed by Andrea Petzel on January 26, 2017.

How long have you been in this position? I became the FIN Program Director in 2017- while the position is new, I worked as a consultant on the project for the past three years. Previously, I was owner/principal of Healthy Community Planning LLC, and I’ve worked as a consultant for food systems planning since 2009. After graduating with a master’s degree from the University of Washington in 2009 in the heart of the recession, I didn’t think a job would be waiting for me. Everybody was being laid off, and because of the focused work I did I was aware of some interesting funding opportunities and had the right relationships to make consulting for community food systems planning work right out of grad school.

How did you become a food systems planner? Before becoming a planner I did a lot of work around food security and hunger relief. During that time I read Sweet Charity by Janet Poppendieck, got halfway through it and got upset about the state of our food system here in Seattle. Working in downtown Seattle for a meal program, and seeing what life was like for people after hours, when businesses close their door, made me rethink my focus. I started making the connection between food systems, food access, and built environment, and ultimately ended up pursing a master’s degree in planning at the University of Washington’s College of the Built Environment, where I focused all my energy on food systems planning work.

What do you enjoy about your work? The range of projects I get to work on. Because it’s systems work I can work with food entrepreneurs, farmers, city planners, residents; a lot of people with people with different perspectives, which leads to a lot of innovative strategies and innovative thinking. I particularly enjoy community-ownership of food system efforts. FIN works with community food advocates, community leaders, who guide our strategy development and implementation while engaging their communities in the mission.

What do you find challenging about your work? I think getting people to understand the link between the food system and built environment. Food systems planners are often working in silos or in other fields of planning, which makes it challenging to move any goals or policies forward.

Do you consider yourself a food systems planner? Yes!

What areas of the food system do you focus on in your work? Two areas: community food access and economic development around the local food economy. I like to think of food as a community development strategy that’s not just about locally produced food. We need to better connect local food to the broader food economy and all communities.

In the work that you perform, where does addressing food systems issues fit in? How has this changed over time? In the beginning I spent almost three years working on a healthy food retail project. I don’t do that now, but now I work with a lot of food entrepreneurs, and my earlier work gave me a lot of credibility because I worked with small food retail businesses. I have the unique role of having one foot in the policy world, and the other in the “real” world, such as helping businesses get started and grow.

Any advice to people who want to work in food systems planning? Take any class, workshop, webinar you can – if it’s not food focused, find a way to make your projects and papers on food policy topics. Attend food policy council meetings, volunteer, and get to know your community and the work that’s happening on the ground.


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. The APA will be featuring 8 food system planners at the National Planning Conference this May 2017 in a special “Faces of Food Systems Planning Session”. Click here for more information.

APA FIG Reception in NYC

On behalf of the APA-FIG Leadership Committee, we would like to invite you to the annual networking reception in New York City on Monday, May 8, 2017. This year, we will be hosting a joint reception with the APA Healthy Communities Collaborative. We hope to see you in NYC!

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National Planning Conference NYC 2017

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Don’t forget to register for one of the biggest National Planning Conferences! Registration rates increase starting March 3!

The APA-FIG Leadership Committee hopes to see you in New York City this May. Check out all the exciting food systems planning related events and sessions (16 in total!), including the APA-FIG Business Meeting and Annual Networking Reception. We look forward to seeing many of you at the conference!

 

Hudson Valley Local Agriculture and Foodshed | Friday, May 5, 2017 | 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9107838/

Gotham West Market, Housing & Community Development Division Lunch Reception | Saturday, May 6, 2017 | noon – 1 p.m. |  https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9116698/

Modern Food Hall: Redevelopment Aid or Trend | Saturday, May 6, 2017 | 1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9107948/

Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food | Saturday, May 6, 2017 | 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109374/

City Food Policy Advisors Kick Plans into Action | Saturday, May 6, 2017 | 4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109407/

Food Systems Planning: Growing Connections and Planning for Health Across the Country | Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m |  https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109370/

The Resiliency of NYC Supply Chains | Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9107863/

Developing Vermont’s Food System through Planning | Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9110279/

Safe, Active Routes to Healthy Food | Monday, May 8, 2017 | 9 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109887/

Food as Community Development | Monday, May 8, 2017 | 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9110192/

Big City Planning Directors on Equitable Redevelopment and Food Access | Monday, May 8, 2017 | 2:45 p.m. – 4 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109372/

Faces of Food Systems Planning | Monday, May 8, 2017 | 4:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9108203/

Food Systems Planning Interest Group Business Meeting | Monday, May 8, 2017 | 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9116909/

Joint Food Systems Planning Interest Group and Healthy Communities Collaborative Reception | Monday, May 8, 2017 | 7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. | Porchlight 271 11th Avenue, NY, NY | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9116911/

Planning for Healthy Rural-Urban Communities | Tuesday, May 9, 2017 | 8 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109618/

Serving Up Health Equity Southern Style | Tuesday, May 9, 2017 | 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. | https://www.planning.org/events/nationalconferenceactivity/9109531/

 

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: https://goo.gl/forms/maYkyqK6IwLC90mp2

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

lucialeo@buffalo.edu

Postdoctoral Position in Global Health and Food Equity – Available Immediately

(reposted from http://growingfoodconnections.org/news-item/postdoctoral-position-in-global-health-and-food-equity-available-immediately/)

The University at Buffalo invites outstanding candidates to apply for a postdoctoral position in food equity to join the university-wide Community on Global Health Equity

About the position

Applications are invited for an outstanding postdoctoral scholar to join a university-wide interdisciplinary research initiative on Food Equity and Global Health. Joining an interdisciplinary team of faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and research staff across multiple schools, including the Schools of Public Health and Health Professions, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the selected postdoctoral scholar will focus her/his research on alleviating food and nutritional inequities by harnessing the power of non-health disciplines including architecture, applied economics, engineering, international development, social work, urban, regional and rural planning and policy, and related disciplines. The candidate will join the Food Equity project, and develop a research portfolio working under the guidance of faculty mentors in the School of Architecture and Planning, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of Public Health and health Professions.

Eligibility requirements

Candidate must hold a doctorate in the following or related fields: urban and regional planning, international development, food systems, engineering, and/or public policy.  An eligible candidate’s dissertation and research interests should be related to advancing food equity and public health in a global setting, preferably in low-resource communities.

Skills and experience

Experience in conducting interdisciplinary research on food systems, food equity, and nutrition-related issues are essential. Supervision of graduate student research will be helpful. Candidates with quantitative or qualitative methodological strengths are welcome to apply. Familiarity with use of spatial analysis using Geographic Information Systems is welcome. Applicants from engineering disciplines will need to demonstrate capability in modeling complex systems; dealing with large quantity of data are a plus.

Responsibilities

Selected candidate will conduct independent research with guidance from Drs. Samina Raja, Li Lin, Korydon Smith, and Pavani Ram. Candidates are encouraged to identify a principal mentor among this faculty group. Candidate will also collaborate closely with faculty aligned with the Food Equity Project within the Community of Global Health Equity. The department home for this position will be Urban and Regional Planning.
The candidate will be expected to contribute intellectually to the research portfolio of the Food Equity Project of the UB CGHE through research-related activities, including generating original scholarship and contributing to ongoing research through the UB CGHE.

About the UB Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity

The grand challenge of global health inequity is one of the defining issues of the 21st century, attracting unprecedented levels of interest and the attention of thinkers who are concerned about the underlying social, economic, political, and environmental factors of this challenge, in addition to the biomedical manifestations. The UB Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE) was established in July 2015 to bring the strength of UB faculty across many disciplines to bear on this most vexing of world problems. The UB CGHE advances global health equity by harnessing the power of interdisciplinary scholarship and action spanning architecture, planning, engineering, social sciences, and supportive disciplines (APEX disciplines). Read more about UB CGHE here: https://www.buffalo.edu/globalhealthequity.html

The selected postdoctoral scholar will be from an APEX discipline, and will join a team of faculty and researchers across multiple disciplines including public health and APEX disciplines.

The WHO defines health inequity as “unjust differences in health between persons of different social groups.”  These differences between one population (and group) and another are due, in part, to one or more of the following systemic barriers:

  1. gaps in foundational science (e.g., lack of drug discovery to treat neglected tropical diseases)
  2. socio-cultural barriers or phenomena (e.g., gender gap in provision and utilization of healthcare)
  3. ineffectual and/or unjust public policies (e.g., land-use policies that (inadvertently) limit people’s access to nutritious foods)
  4. ineffective practices or unequal access to best practices (e.g., lack of safe construction practices in hard-to-reach rural areas)

Low resources and/or low capacity for change at global, social, and/or institutional levels exacerbate these systemic barriers. This Community’s aim is to “influence the influencers,” the leaders, organizations, and policy makers that can reduce or eliminate barriers to improved global health and well-being for all in settings around the world:

  1. research bodies (e.g., universities or funding agencies)
  2. facilitative/dissemination organizations, including international organizations (e.g., state agency providing assistance to refugees or international organization promoting child health)
  3. policy makers and implementers (e.g., ministries of rural development)
  4. professional/practitioner organizations (e.g., urban planning organizations or organizations providing healthcare)

Application review, deadlines, and remuneration

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. The position is for two years. Salary and benefits are competitive and commensurate with experience. The University at Buffalo is an equal opportunity employer.

Apply online via the UB Jobs interface: https://www.ubjobs.buffalo.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=59675

About the University at Buffalo

The University at Buffalo is a premier, research-intensive public university dedicated to academic excellence. It is the flagship and the largest and most comprehensive campus in the 64-campus State University of New York System. With 27,000 students, the University at Buffalo is a Carnegie Class I research university and a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). The university offers 83 Ph.D. and 190 master’s degree programs, and has outstanding supercomputing, library, and research facilities, including numerous interdisciplinary centers and institutes for faculty collaboration. The University at Buffalo has three campuses: UB South campus, UB Downtown campus, and UB North Campus.

The post-doctoral position will be housed in the Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity located in historic Hayes Hall on UB’s South Campus.

The UB South Campus, home to the School of Public Health and Health Professions and the School of Architecture and Planning, is located in the University Heights neighborhood with coffee shops, eateries, bookstores, and a full array of commercial outlets and services. The campus is highly accessible, situated on a subway and other transit lines. Housing opportunities are abundant and affordable. With a combined population of 9.7 million, the binational Niagara region of Western New York and Southern Ontario offers a high quality of life and an exceptional setting for engaging planning issues. The region spans an international border, and includes large cities, varied suburbs, dramatic landscapes, and quiet villages. For additional information about the University at Buffalo and the community, see http://www.buffalo.edu/community.

Contact information

Dr. Samina Raja, Associate Professor and Community for Global Health Equity faculty sraja@buffalo.edu

Urban Food Planning: Seeds of Transition in the Global North

 

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Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Rositsa Ilieva.

Bridging community food systems and urban planning matters, now more than ever. Over the past fifteen years, more than 100 scholarly publications on the topic have appeared in architecture and urban planning journals worldwide and over 90 local food systems strategies have been released by local administrations in the Global North alone. On October 15, 2015, the first international urban food policy agenda – the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact – was signed by more than 100 cities and set a precedent, charting a new avenue for sustainability-minded planners. Unsurprisingly, thus far, research has not kept the pace with these innovations, leaving many opportunities untapped and the limits and promises of urban food planning insufficiently understood.

Against this backdrop my research, and my new book “Urban Food Planning: Seeds of Transition in the Global North” (Routledge, 2016), seek to lay the groundwork for urban food planning scholarship and practice from a global perspective. A central goal of this endeavor is to systematically assess and celebrate the emergent food systems planning initiatives and support the work of an increasing number of researchers, community advocates, and policymakers striving to advance sustainable cities and community food systems in tandem. To this end, I examine emergent urban food planning innovations through the lens of theories of sociotechnical transitions which enable me to discern the nonlinear dynamics of socio-spatial change and identify levers that can help steer future urban and food systems transitions. While the boundaries of the field are still in the making, it is fair to say that it encompasses both efforts to facilitate alternative practices, like urban agriculture and shopping at farmers markets as well as efforts to address anomalies in the mainstream food system, such as unequal access to fresh food retail, disproportionate urbanization of prime agricultural land, wobbly disaster preparedness of food distribution and transportation networks, and inefficient or nonexistent organic waste recycling infrastructure.

The practitioners behind innovative urban food planning practices are a broad constituency of urban food policy “entrepreneurs” having the common goal to make the urban food system work in the public interest to generate healthy, prosperous, and ecologically sound human settlements. Urban planners are just one group of practitioners across the many private practice professionals, activists, and government officials from a wide range of economic sectors and disciplines at the forefront of its development. Planners have, however, played a key role in advancing the urban food planning agenda by developing dedicated policy guides on the subject, creating working groups in their professional and academic associations on both sides of the Atlantic (e.g., the Food Interest Group of the American Planning Association [APA-FIG] in the US – the authors of this Blog, and the Sustainable Food Planning group of the Association of European Schools of Planning in Europe), and popularizing the topic through scientific journals, books, and academic conferences.

The evidence shows that urban food planning has grown into a new niche for social innovation, research, and practice and there are plenty of reasons and unique opportunities for planners to make a difference, while doing what they already do, only better. Planners who see food as priority in their work are still a minority, however, the public understanding that food is an urban system and that ensuring its sustainability is part of the responsibilities of local governments, in both developed and developing counties, has started gaining prominence over the past decade. In “Urban Food Planning,” I argue that there are at least 10 good reasons why now, more than ever, it is in planners’ interest to engage with urban food planning. Among these, are a rapidly expanding food systems planning community of practice to work with, a rising demand for expertise in urban food planning from both public, private, and civil society sectors, the potential for increasing the legitimacy of planning interventions, and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mandated by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Urban food planning – the bundle of government, business, and civil society practices aimed at building sustainable cities and food systems in tandem – is a “hybrid” social niche in-the-making, encompassing a host of creative conceptual, analytical, design, and organizational responses to fundamental questions such as: What’s wrong with the urban food system? Why should we care? How do we fix it? and Who is in charge? In fact, urban food planning is both a distinct practice and a bundle of place-based practices (e.g., community food security assessments, mapping existing and potential sites for urban agriculture and current demand, conducting regional foodshed analyses, devising comprehensive food systems strategies and plans, among many others). Local government provisions, such as zoning and financial incentives for fresh food stores, bans on fast food outlets in school districts, removal of building code barriers for rooftop greenhouses, or reducing restrictions for onsite processing and selling of produce, are also part of the bundle. Thus, differently from other niches for social innovation, like the UK-based Transition Towns movement for instance, urban food planning novelties stretch beyond the circles of citizens’ groups and community advocates alone.

Each practitioner involved in urban food planning possesses distinct strengths and competitive advantages to advance the global Agenda for just and sustainable food systems. Beginning to map and recognize such strengths, alongside the obvious limitations of working in a niche, is a task that needs to be timely addressed. One of the biggest challenges in trying to map a transition process in its early stages of development, however, is that the speed of change is such that by the time one takes a snapshot of a fragment of the system, the entire landscape has already changed – some novelties have died out, others have moved on, and new ones have emerged. This can be frustrating for the academic investigator, let alone the planner practitioner or the policymaker, seeking to legitimize their research, long-term plans, or policy recommendations. Yet, as food systems planner Martin Bailkey recently put it, not being able to keep up with the pace of innovation in the field is “a good challenge to have.”

A more stable suite of urban food planning practices has the potential to transition urban food planning from an unstable niche to a robust social innovation in the position to challenge incumbent planning and food system regimes, helping local governments and communities to pursue a “bolder vision for the city.” Strategic levers for change include opportunities to strengthen present endeavors to represent, understand, and transform the urban food system, as well as to legitimize city-level interventions in the public domain, but also to question its current assumptions and ideologies. In fact, as the narrative of the book cruises through different food planning novelties, the reader is cautioned that there is nothing inherently good in a new practice per se, nor there is anything inherently sustainable in the scale at which practices are carried out, however, both new ideas and local actions are fundamental in imagining and enacting societal transitions. And we, planners and allied professionals in the Global North, have the moral obligation to be at the forefront of this institutional and environmental transition.

Finally, the focus of “Urban Food Planning” is on experiences from the Global North, not because food systems planning innovations do not manifest in developing economies regions – in fact, they greatly do, but because the impact of rich cities on their local and global hinterlands is so extensive and, at the same time, so scarily well concealed, that every effort to address it offers a rare chance to break the myth that we are living in a benign and harmless cornucopia. Only by making visible and by appreciating the critical mass of city-regional food system innovations, taking place in our own backyards, can we debunk the delusion that food is working in the public interest and it is superfluous in sustainable urban development projects and strategies in wealthy states. The goal of integrating local food infrastructures in and around cities has been in urban planning’s DNA since its inception, but for over a century it has remained suppressed for cultural, political, and economic reasons. There has hardly ever been a better time to restore it.

By:

Rositsa T. Ilieva, Ph.D.
Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy
Parsons School of Design
The New School, New York, NY 10003
E-mail: ilievar@newschool.edu
@RositsaTIlieva, LinkedIN: www.linkedin.com/in/rositsa-ilieva-73236016

Meet up with APA-FIG at the National APA Conference May 6-9, 2017!

APA-FIG is excited to host a reception and annual meeting on May 8 at the conference – a chance for FIG members and other interested in food system planning to meet, mingle and get involved in FIG. Here’s a sneak peak of the food system sessions happening: Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food; Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food; Growing Food Connections for Community Change; Developing Vermont’s Food System through Planning; Safe, Active Routes to Healthy Food. If you come early, check out the mobile tour on May 5—Hudson Valley Local Agriculture and Foodshed. To learn more and register, visit https://www.planning.org/conference/.