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


Signatures needed for a petition to become an APA Division


In October and November, 173 APA-FIG members completed our online survey to gauge interest in pursuing Division status. About 94% of respondents think APA-FIG should become an official Division of the APA.

Based on this feedback, the APA-FIG Leadership Committee is pursuing status as an APA Division. The next step to making this happen is completing APA’s official petition:

To support this effort, please indicate your commitment to joining the proposed Division by signing this petition (note: you must be an APA member to sign the petition). We will need 300 signatures.

Please spread the word and help us make this happen.


APA-FIG Leadership Committee


APA-FIG Survey 2017 – Interest in Pursuing APA Division Status

The APA-FIG Leadership Committee is interested in pursuing Division status. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey ( and let us know your thoughts.

As a Division of the American Planning Association, APA-FIG would become 1 of 22 APA Divisions representing a community of professionals. APA Divisions have 501(c)3 status, have a seat on the Divisions Council, are governed by individual bylaws, prepare an annual work plan and budget, and have both elected and appointed leadership positions.

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By becoming an official APA Division, APA-FIG could improve its visibility within the APA and increase awareness of food systems planning among the broader planning community, and have a greater connection to APA networking and professional development opportunities.

Growing Local: Strengthening Food Systems Through Planning and Policy


Local governments are becoming increasingly involved in planning and policy making for community food systems, both as leaders and as partners with the private sector. Often responding to community pressure, in some cases they are the driving force, motivated by a desire to strengthen local economies, improve food security and nutritional outcomes, and to support agriculture and preserve farmland…

For the entire blog post, check out the American Planning Association’s website here.

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.

APA National Planning Conference 2018

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APA has officially opened their proposal submission portal to collect conference session proposals for the 2018 National Planning Conference in New Orleans this April 21-24. The deadline to submit proposals is August 29th.  Proposal guidelines and submission instructions can be found here.

Faces of Food Systems Planning: Marcia Caton Campbell

MCatonCampbell.jpgMarcia Caton Campbell is the executive director of the Center for Resilient Cities (CRC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Madison, WI. CRC’s work pulls together many “systems” of a neighborhood: how we build community, how we feed ourselves, how we educate our children, how we produce energy and manage natural resources, how we create jobs, and how we design buildings and reclaim our neighborhood spaces. Marcia has close to 20 years of experience in community-based planning and food systems planning, research, and practice. Prior to joining CRC in 2006, Marcia taught urban and regional planning at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, specializing in food systems planning, community-based planning, and environmental conflict resolution. Her research, teaching, and publications focused on consensus building and community-based planning with diverse publics, and multi-stakeholder conflict resolution. She is a member of the American Planning Association’s Food Interest Group Leadership Committee and serves on the City of Milwaukee’s Green Team, coauthoring ReFresh Milwaukee’s food systems chapter. She is co-author of Urban Agriculture: Growing Healthy Sustainable Places and Principles of a Healthy, Sustainable Food System.

This interview was conducted via email in March 2017 by Kimberley Hodgson of Cultivating Healthy Places, and chair of APA-FIG.

What do you enjoy about your work? Although my entire career has been grounded in consistent themes of equity, social justice, collaboration and progressivism, what I enjoy the most about the work is that no two days are exactly alike. I am never bored – and I never tire of learning about what other food systems planners are doing and how I can bring their work to bear upon my own.

Similarly, what do you find challenging about your work? The current national political climate is increasingly challenging for food systems work. It’s a climate we’ve been living with in Wisconsin for a while now. There’s a short-sightedness and lack of vision at the higher levels of elected office about the multifaceted nature of food systems planning – and how advances in our field translate into advances in neighborhood and community resilience, local and regional economies, public health, you name it. Food systems planning can serve a bridging function across political and economic spectrums, because everybody wants and needs to eat, healthfully, economically and, increasingly, sustainably.

What areas of the food system do you focus on in your work? My organization’s mission is to cultivate healthy, resilient people in healthy, resilient places. Our work is place-based, with community vision leading the way. In our current work, we operate the Badger Rock Center, a collaborative project in Madison, WI, that involves a neighborhood center, a public charter middle school with an urban agriculture curriculum, and a variety of food system-related activities (urban agricultural production, commercial kitchen, winter farmers market). We have been involved in local food policy work in both Madison and Milwaukee, and hold community gardens in trust in Madison.

In the work that you perform, where does addressing food systems issues fit in? How has this changed over time? I’ve worked on many aspects of the food system in planning over my career, from theory-building scholarship to professional practice, from site-specific urban agriculture projects to citywide food policy. What’s compelling to me right now from a planning perspective is cracking large institutional procurement and food supply chain issues, and developing food policy that leads to more resilient local and regional food systems. And, I want to see food justice achieved in the global North and South, though I recognize that the best role I might play in supporting that work may well be one of “stepping up to step back.”

Do you consider yourself a food systems planner? Absolutely.

How has your perception of food systems planning changed since you first entered the planning field? Well, food systems planning didn’t exist when I first entered the planning field in the early 1980s. I was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time: to participate in the field’s early development in the late 1990s, and to continue working in food systems planning throughout my career. These days, I no longer have to explain – in certain circles, anyway – what a food systems planner does, thanks to the growing interest on the part of the general public in sustainability and resilience.

Who has had the most influence on you as a planner? As a food systems planner? Dale Bertsch and Ken Pearlman, my planning professors at Ohio State, played a pivotal role in shaping my early interests and progressivism. I benefitted from working with them for many years, first as a master’s student, then as managing editor of the Journal of Planning Literature, and finally as a doctoral student. Tim Beatley’s thoughtful engagement and support of my work has been a great help over my entire career, dating back to my time at the Journal. I think I own every book Beatley has ever published.

But without question, Jerry Kaufman has had the deepest, most profound influence on me as an urban planner and food systems planner. I was so incredibly fortunate to become Jerry’s colleague as food systems planning was in its infancy. We worked together for close to a decade at the UW—Madison on research projects, scholarship, and professional practice issues — and then for the rest of his life, as close friends and colleagues on the Growing Power board of directors and as members of APA-FIG. Every professional conversation we had touched upon the food system. Many of the personal conversations did too.

My enthusiasm for food systems planning continues to be fed by the second and third generations of food systems planners, in the breadth, depth and richness of their food systems work. I think of Samina Raja and Kimberley Hodgson especially – and too many others to name! I have a front row seat for a lot of this, in my capacity as a member of APA-FIG’s leadership team.

Do you have any advice for someone entering the food systems planning field? What makes you successful in your work? What skills do you use the most in your food systems planning related work? Food systems planning is both a stand-alone area of intensive focus and work, and interdisciplinary and connected to every other subfield of planning. To be successful, you need to be grounded traditional planning skills: systems thinking combined with attention to detail, time and project management, data collection and analysis leading to evidence-based recommendation. But you also need the softer skills of negotiation, mediation, conflict resolution; collaboration, especially in cross-sectoral partnerships; the ability to recognize your own inherent privilege and associated biases; and above all, the ability to listen to what others have to say.

 What do you wish you would have known before going to planning school? That there’s lots of room for outside-the-box and creative thinking. I wish I had thirty more years of food systems planning ahead of me – I think it’s the most exciting work to do as a planner.

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.