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CFSC Urban Agriculture Committee

Use these links to jump to the following sections:

Introduction | What We Do | Additional Reading | Call Archive | Get Involved

Introduction to Urban Agriculture and the UA Committee

There are many ways to define urban agriculture. Currently, the CFSC Urban Agriculture Committee is using the following definition:

Urban Agriculture is the growing, processing, and distributing of food and other products through intensive plant cultivation and animal husbandry in and around cities.

(from Martin Bailkey & Joe Nasr, "From Brownfields to Greenfields: Producing Food in North American Cities," Community Food Security News, Fall 1999/Winter 2000, p. 6)

The Community Food Security Coalition Urban Agriculture Committee came into being at the Coalition's 1998 Conference in Pittsburgh. This committee was one of several focusing on specific areas within the Coalition's overall agenda, such as Policy, Farm-to-School, and Training & Technical Assistance. Since then, the UA Committee has been among the Coalition's most active units, particularly in advocating for urban food production within a number of broader food policy initiatives. Committee members conduct important research into the current state and future prospects for urban agriculture, represent the CFSC at many conferences and professional events, and work closely with the American Community Gardening Association (including serving as ACGA Board members).

In 2002 the Committee developed an urban agriculture "primer" (pdf) as the Coalition's position paper on urban agriculture. Committee members have since produced fact sheets based on the primer to targeted audiences such as urban planners and health professionals. This is an active committee with participation from urban agriculture practitioners in both United States and Canada.

Membership in the Committee is open to all Coalition members interested in urban agriculture and its role in promoting community food security. The primary vehicle for Committee interaction is the monthly conference calls to which all members are invited to participate. In August 2003, a Committee listserv (URBANAG) was created through Tufts Universityto communicate and share information among members.

At the Vancouver CFSC/FSC in October 2006, a group of urban agriculture practitioners began a new initiative, the North American Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Alliance, which has since been re-named Metro Ag Alliance for Urban Agriculture. Work on this initiative has continued ever since.

What Does the UA Committee Do?

The Committee reviews policy and advocates for urban-ag-friendly changes and additions at the local, state and national levels; and brings together urban agriculture practitioners for discussion and to gather information about what is going on in urban agriculture nationally. We produce informational materials which elevate awareness about urban agriculture. We are in the process of surveying urban ag list-serve members to determine what activities would be of most benefit to them, and will redefine our path once the survey is completed.

The Committee activities identified to date include:

  • Raise the profile of urban agriculture as a tool for reaching Community Food Security in partnership with ACGA and other constituencies.
  • Promote the relationship of between community food security and urban agriculture at the national policy level with organizations that do not address urban agriculture, such as, Congress, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Environmental Protection Agency, Cooperative Extension, and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).
  • Promote urban-based food systems and develop producer-consumer links within cities.
  • Develop relationships between those working on community garden initiatives and those working on urban agriculture initiatives.
  • Promote urban agriculture to community leaders involved in urban planning and policymaking.
  • Educate the public, urban planners and policy makers on how urban food systems, including community gardens, promote healthy food, community empowerment, and greening of cities.
  • Develop urban agriculture as a tool to increase access to ethnic and indigenous food cultures within cities.
  • Offer urban agriculture courses, workshops and conferences.
  • Distribute written and multi-media materials such as the urban agriculture primer and fact sheets and develop further communication tools.
  • Host an urban agriculture listserv to communicate activities of the Committee and encourage discussions on urban agriculture issues.
  • Strengthen local governmental policy efforts to plan for growth and transportation, conserve farmland, provide local food security, support urban agriculture, and meet health and public safety needs.
  • Build liaisons to existing and new coalitions and use urban agriculture as one way to make these linkages. Examples for potential links include: child nutrition forums, anti-poverty organizations, faith communities, sustainability coalitions, public health and environmental networks, community development movements, smart growth and transportation coalitions.

Urban Agriculture Publications & Additional Reading

Conference Call Archive

  • April 2011 (mp3)
    Speakers Erika Allen of Growing Power Chicago and Harry Rhodes of Growing Home discuss Chicago's proposed urban agriculture ordinance.
  • March 2011 (mp3)
    Speakers Martin Bailkey and Marcia Caton Campbell discuss their new report for the American Planning Association. Read more about the report.
  • December 2010 (mp3)
    Speaker Josephine Williams discusses the zoning and health code policy work in Memphis, TN; highlights from the New Orleans CFSC conference urban agriculture policy short course; MetroAg Alliance update; Policy update on Greening Food Deserts Act and the Federal Farm Bill.
  • September 2010 (mp3)
    Speaker Kimberley Hodgson from the American Planning Association; strategizing how to get more sponsors for HR 3225 - An Act for Community Gardens.
  • August 2010 (no recording)
    Speaker Travis Hall, the farm manager of Gateway Greening, St. Louis; update on Greening Food Deserts legislation; update on CFSC conference short course.
  • June 2010 (no recording)
    Speaker Maggie Gosselin discusses the implications of her recent report, Beyond the USDA: How other government agencies can support a healthier, more sustainable food system (PDF), on urban agriculture policy work.
  • May 2010 (no recording)
    Speaker Pamela Martin, University of Chicago, discusses the Feeding the City project, which is examining the energy use and greenhouse gases associated with small-scale sustainable agriculture; legislative updates on H.R. 4971 and H.R. 3225; development of outline & speaker suggestions for Urban Ag short course at the CFSC Annual Conference.
  • April 2010 (no recording by request of the speaker)
    Matt Kaplan, from Rep. Marcy Kaptur's office, discusses the representative's recently-introduced Greening Food Deserts Act and how we might interface with the bill.
  • March 2010 (mp3)
    Updates; brainstorming proposals for the CFSC Annual Conference in October.
  • February 2010 (mp3)
    Speaker Katherine Kelly, Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, co-founder of the Growing Growers Training Program and the Farmers Community Market at Brookside, discusses her efforts to develop the Kansas City food system.
  • January 2010 (mp3)
    Speaker Ann Carroll from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Brownfields & Revitalization, discusses how to avoid environmental contamination in urban growing and the opportunities available through the brownfield program; presentation on progress on the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization, given by Alan Hunt of Local Food Strategies.
    EPA Brownfield Grant Factsheets: Examples of groups that have turned brownfields into gardens:
  • December 2009 (mp3)
  • November 2009 (mp3)
    Speaker Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center discusses the economic development potential of urban agriculture.
  • October 2009 (mp3)
  • September 2009 (mp3)
    Speaker Kimberley Hodgson, American Planning Association discusses what planners are doing to promote urban agriculture; strategy discussion on how to get more sponsors for HR 3225, Community Gardens Act of 2009.
  • August 2009 (mp3)
    Review of the recent ACGA conference; legislative update on H.R. 3225; committee updates.
  • July 2009 (mp3)
    Speaker Jen Blecha, head of the Local Foods Program at a non-profit in St. Paul, the Minnesota Project, talks about the work she has been doing around ordinances and regulations that have encouraged (and hindered) urban agriculture (followup from June 2009 call).
  • June 2009 (mp3)
  • April 2009 (mp3)
    Presentation & discussion about Homegrown Minneapolis; brainstorm on how to address frequent questions on zoning; conference submission planning for upcoming ACGA & CFSC conferences.
  • March 2009 - Recording (mp3) | Notes (PDF)
    Updates; brainstorming potential presentations for the upcoming American Community Gardening Association conference in August.
  • December 2008 (mp3)
  • November 2008 - Recording (mp3) | Notes (PDF)
    Discussion with Alan Hunt, Northeast Midwest Institute, about federal policy opportunities for promoting urban agriculture.

How to Get Involved

Urban Agriculture Committee members communicate mostly through a committee list (URBANAG) and by monthly conference calls. CFSC members (join today) can subscribe to the UA Committee's list by following the Elist steps outlined below. For questions about the committee's activities contact Committee Co-Chairs Betsy Johnson, (617) 536-1711, [email protected] or Cynthia Price, (231) 739-6397, [email protected].

UrbanAg Elist:

Subscribe to URBANAG elist

To post a message to all subscribers on the list, send email to: [email protected] (Note: You must be subscribed to post a message to the list.)

Unsubscribe from URBANAG

If you do not yet have an Elist password, you can get one by going to the Elist Reminder page. A password will be sent to you allowing you to log onto to Elist and to set your preferences (including choosing a new password).

In case of problems or for other assistance in using this URBANAG Elist, you may contact [email protected]