Community Food Systems Process

Year 1

Coalition Development

It is critical for food systems and community development for an agreed upon vision, mission, core values, name recognition, and accountability. The development of a coalition assists in this process as well as confirming what the coalition and community would like to see happen. The first year of the program focuses on coalition development, building trust, and identifying the mission, vision and core values of the local group. Work is also conducted on assessing current infrastructure and assets, meeting with local stakeholders and finding potential partnerships and opportunities. 

Food and Health Assessment 

The first year also entails researching and understanding existing infrastructure and assets. In order to know what a coalition or community would like to see happen, it is critical to understand what already exists. The Food and Health Assessment evaluates the existing conditions of the community-based food system sectors (production, transformation, distribution, consumption, and resource management) and how those aspects relate to community food system program values (education, policy, public health, built and natural environment, and the economy).

Community Input
Many meetings are conducted with local stakeholders to find potential partnerships and opportunities. Within this process, public input sessions are held to allow for all community members to have a voice in the decision making-process for priority projects.  

Priority Projects

Based on the report and community input, the coalition determines priority projects at the end of year one. Projects are selected based on feasibility and capacity for implementation, impact on the community, relevance to core values, and innovation. Priority projects could include any variation or combination from the food system sectors. Within each of these sectors, numerous tactics have been researched by the Agricultural Urbanism Program and range from community gardens to community supported agriculture, urban farms to a food cooperative, and more. 

Years 2 & 3

Project Implementation

Once priority projects are determined, project teams form from community stakeholders interested in the successful implementation of that specific goal. Additionally, projects determine the scope of work and timeline, with the goal that there is a range of short-term, quick-win projects, intermediate and long-term economic development project potential. 

In partnership with the Community Design Lab, project teams develop scopes of work and collectively move the project toward implementation.Quarterly coalition meetings are still held. These meetings allow project teams to share with the larger group on successes and challenges as well as provide an opportunity to share general food system/ health updates that have occurred in the community.   

For more information about the Iowa State University Agricultural Urbanism Program, contact Courtney Long, Program Coordinator.