Local Food Initiative | Bulletin

October 2017

AGree has received some additional convening resources to explore conversations that will support local/regional food systems and potentially also include immigration and workforce concerns facing agriculture.

Using the AGree platform as trusted convener and thought partner, AGree plans to organize an additional convening in 2018 to help expand networks and share information across groups who have not traditionally worked together. We will provide updates about this work as it progresses.

April 2017

In September 2016, AGree teamed up with Co-Chair Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University (GW) to co-host the Urban Agriculture and the Next Farm Bill Symposium which discussed how urban, local, and regional agriculture policy can inform the 2018 farm bill.

The Urban Agriculture and the Next Farm Bill Symposium brought together policy makers, academics and practitioners to identify current scientific findings, propose future research questions in the field of sustainability, and contextualize food policy in light of the 2018 farm bill. The Symposium drew attention to issues including social justice and urban agriculture, the business of urban agriculture, land and non-land based innovations, urban youth, research needs and opportunities, international local food efforts, and urban food policy. The Symposium set the stage for discussion about how urban agriculture priorities can be effectively integrated in the 2018 farm bill.

For more information about AGree’s Local Food Initiative, please contact Heather Lair (HLair@merid.org).

April 2016

As part of our Local Food Initiative, AGree is teaming up with Co-Chair Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University (GW), to hold a convening series on urban, local, and regional agriculture policy to help inform the 2018 Farm Bill. The goal for the convening series is to:

  • Build awareness of cross cutting issues that span local and regional food systems and urban agriculture (e.g., economic development, food access, nutrition and health);
  • Explore key themes and policy options with an eye towards informing deliberations leading up to the 2018 Farm Bill; and
  • Develop a strategic communications plan to build support for inclusion of these cross cutting issues in the next farm bill.

The convening series includes off-the-record policy-focused dialogue as well as a public-facing symposium at GW this fall where ideas from the off-the-record conversations can be tested and vetted with a broader audience. It builds upon two George Washington University-hosted urban agriculture events in April 2016.

Outputs from the series (e.g., blogs, infographics, short videos) will be intended for a broad audience, including staff from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on the key issues related to local, regional, and urban agriculture, and how USDA can support these projects. Discussions at the public symposium will inform a peer-reviewed publication and possibly other media pieces.

For more information about AGree’s Local Food Initiative, please contact Heather Lair (HLair@merid.org).

September 2015

On September 18, AGree released a Local Food Initiative consensus document, Local Food: Revitalizing Community-based Food Systems, and held a DC Local Food Tour to showcase innovative work to promote health and well-being and economic development through local food systems.

AGree Co-Chairs Kathleen Merrigan and Emmy Simmons and Executive Director Deborah Atwood hosted AGree Advisors, members of the media, and a number of local food experts for the DC Local Food Tour. The day began with a visit to the White House Garden led by former AGree Advisor Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy. Deb Eschmeyer initiated discussions for the day by framing local food and healthy eating as a national movement and affirming AGree’s work as a consensus builder that has forged important common ground on this issue.

After the White House, the group toured Union Kitchen, a food incubator focused on growing food businesses by providing members with commercial kitchen facilities and “wrap around” business services such as marketing and distribution support. Participants were inspired by founder Jonas Singer’s vision for businesses that support neighborhood culture and economic opportunity.

The group also visited the Arcadia Mobile Market in Northeast DC, and Vermillion Restaurant and the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture’s farm in Alexandria, VA. These visits raised issues related to food access, health and nutrition, and the scalability of local food. The mobile discussion format was well received by participants and provided an interactive way to draw attention to the release of AGree’s paper and connect members of the media and local food leaders to AGree’s work. A news advisory related to the paper’s release can be found here. An Agri-Pulse video about the tour can be viewed here.

AGree staff and Local Food Tour participants with Let’s Move Executive Director Debra Eschmeyer in the White House garden.