Eight pilot communities will build links between farmers and consumers

Farmer standing by tractor

WASHINGTON — Eight communities across the country will receive training and assistance to link family farmers and local residents who lack access to healthy food.

Growing Food Connections will help local governments, planners, family farmers, and consumers work together to strengthen their food systems. The collaborative effort is coordinated by American Farmland Trust.

Pilot communities

The eight Communities of Opportunity are:

  • Chautauqua County, New York (Jamestown)
  • Cumberland County, Maine (Portland)
  • Dougherty County, Georgia (Albany)
  • Dona Ana County, New Mexico (Las Cruces)
  • Douglas County, Nebraska (Omaha)
  • Luna County, New Mexico (Deming)
  • Polk County, North Carolina (Columbus)
  • Wyandotte County, Kansas (Kansas City)

Game plan

“We have found that local leaders want tools and resources, not handouts,” said AFT Assistant Vice President for Programs Julia Freedgood.

“And, that’s what GFC will do — help local governments develop a vision and a game plan to benefit farmers and ranchers and community residents who are underserved by our current food system.”

Three-year project

Over a three-year period, Growing Food Connections will help local governments create their own plans, policies, partnerships, and make public investment to support family farmers and enhance food security. The communities will also serve as models for other communities nationwide that face similar challenges. They were selected from a competitive nationwide search and application process.


AFT will lead outreach efforts in partnership with the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (GFC project lead), Ohio State University, and Cultivating Healthy Places. The American Planning Association and the Growing Food Connections National Advisory Committee also advise the project.

Learn more about GFC at growingfoodconnections.org.

GFC is a five-year, $3.96 million research initiative funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the USDA.


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