Planning and Community Health Center

Growing Food Connections

Awareness around the field of food systems planning has increased significantly in the last decade. APA has led many efforts to better understand the role of planning in community and regional food systems. Planning is the starting point to inform new methods for reintegrating the food system by increasing food security in vulnerable areas, strengthening the sustainability and economic resilience of urban and rural communities, and supporting farms engaged in local and regional food systems that use sustainable practices.

Growing Food Connections logoAPA is a key partner in Growing Food Connections (GFC), a $3.96 million initiative funding through a grant from the USDA/NIFA AFRI Food Systems Program NIFA Award #2012-68004-19894. This effort aims to build local government capacity to enhance food security for all. GFC is led by co-investigators Samina Raja, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, University at Buffalo (project lead); Julia Freedgood, managing director of the American Farmland Trust; Kimberley Hodgson, founder and principal of Cultivating Healthy Places; and Jill Clark, assistant professor, Ohio State University.

To date, GFC has assessed communities to understand how they have improved their local food systems, began to provide technical assistance to Communities of Opportunity, and developed applied tools for planners to utilize in their community.

Food Interest Group

The Food Interest Group, a group of APA members and allied professionals, is dedicated to advancing food systems planning at the local, regional, state, or national level.

To join and to learn more, visit FIG's website.

Planning and policy briefs

The GFC Planning and Policy Brief Series highlights promising planning and policy strategies used by local governments across North America to strengthen their communities' food systems by promoting agricultural viability and healthy food access. 

Local, Healthy Food Procurement Policies: This brief shows how local governments can support local food systems, augment demand for locally produced and healthy food, and improve the availability of healthy foods by adopting food procurement policies that make strong statements for both local and healthy food.

Incentivizing the Sale of Healthy and Local Food: This brief explores the policies, programs, and projects being developed by local governments to help overcome accessibility and economic barriers to healthy, local food consumption by incentivizing the sale of healthy and local food for all residents.

Food Aggregation, Processing, and Distribution: This brief describes the important roles that food hubs and other aggregation, processing, and distribution entities play in connecting local farmers and food producers to larger, more diverse markets, and offers recommendations for how local governments can support development of this intermediary food system infrastructure.

OTHER Resources

Food Systems Reader: A collection of published resources that explore local and regional level public policy challenges and opportunities related to community food production, community food security, and community food connections.

Food Policy Database: A searchable collection of local public policies that explicitly support community food systems.

If you would like to submit a policy for potential inclusion in the database, please fill out this form. Please submit only those policies that have been officially adopted by a local government (municipality or county).

Explore Stories of Innovative Food Policies


Through a combined approach of visionary leadership, long-range planning, departmental coordination, public-private partnerships, and public funding for innovative programs, the Seattle municipal government is taking a leading role in strengthening the regional food system. This profile highlights a few of the municipal government's landmark efforts to improve access to healthy food for its residents while simultaneously improving the viability of regional agriculture.