2020 Program and Speakers

2020 Invited Speakers

Jess Halliday, PhD – Keynote Speaker

Jess Halliday is an associate of the RUAF Global Partnership on Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems. She is presently working with partners from the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at Wilfrid Laurier University and the CGIAR Water Land and Ecosystems programme on a project led by the FAO to strengthen resilience of city region food systems to climate-related shocks and stresses. Before joining RUAF in 2018 Jess worked with the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food (IPES-Food) to author a report on the drivers of urban food policies, What Makes Urban Food Policy Happen?; and for French research institute Cirad, where she conducted research for the UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems. Jess spent her early career as a journalist and TV researcher. Jess holds a PhD and an MSc in food policy from the Centre for Food Policy, City University London, and gained her bachelor’s degree from Cambridge University. She lives in the small village near city of Montpellier in southern France. Click here to learn more about Dr. Halliday.

Session Title – Building climate-resilient urban and regional food systems

Abstract – There is no doubt that climate change is upon us and is wrecking havoc on our food systems. From chronic stresses such as droughts and prolonged low temperatures, to sudden shocks like hurricanes, floods, and raging wild fires, extreme events are already affecting food and nutrition security, and global stability.  

In this talk we will take a realistic look at the impacts of climate change on urban and regional food systems, including real-life examples of how catastrophes have caused crop failure, cut off supplies for local populations, and caused livelihoods to collapse.

Yet despite the grim evidence there are reasons to be hopeful. Through the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is growing international recognition of the need to safeguard food security from the impacts of climate change and climate related disasters.

And there are signs, in some places, of gradual realization that food must be included in resilience strategies — not least since Covid-19 laid bare the fragility of food systems across the world.

We will look at some of the policies, programs and actions that local and regional governments can put in place to increase the capacity of food systems actors to prevent, resist, absorb, adapt, respond and build back better from disasters.

Finally, we will consider key questions used by the FAO-RUAF City Region Food System Programme to assess existing food systems resilience capacity, identify weak spots and vulnerable people, and determine priority action areas.

Charles Rice, PhD – Invited Speaker

Dr. Rice grew up in Yorkville, Illinois which had a population of about 1,500 people at the time. Throughout the years he became involved in many aspects of 4-H. Rice received his B.S. in Geography from Northern Illinois University. He then completed his Masters and Doctorate from the University of Kentucky. In 1988 Rice joined the Agronomy faculty at K-State. Rice specializes in soil microbiology, carbon cycling, and climate change. His extensive research has allowed him to gain helpful insight in order to help his students. Dr. Rice spends his remaining free time relaxing by doing the things that he enjoys most, reading and gardening. Click here for more information about Dr. Rice.

Session Title – Coming Soon!

Mark Winne – Invited Speaker

From 1979 to 2003, Mark Winne was the Executive Director of the Hartford Food System (HFS), a private nonprofit agency that works on food and hunger issues in the Hartford, Connecticut area. From 2002 until 2004, Mark was a Food and Society Policy Fellow, a position supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Mark currently writes, speaks, and consults extensively on community food system topics including hunger and food insecurity, local and regional agriculture, community food assessment, and food policy. Since 2013, Mark has served as a Senior Advisor at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future where he works on local and state food policy. He is the author of Food Town, USA (Island Press 2019), Stand Together or Starve Alone: Unity and Chaos in the U.S. Food Movement (Praeger Press 2018), Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty (Beacon Press 2008), and Food Rebels, Guerilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas: Fighting Back in an Age of Industrial Agriculture (Beacon Press, 2010). Mark now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and holds a bachelor’s degree from Bates College and a master’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University. Click here to learn more about Mark!

Session Title – The Hydra-Headed Food System: Imagining the Whole and Connecting the Dots

Abstract – Understanding the inner workings of our communities’ food systems has never been more important. Whether we are building a new food system out of the shell of the old, or attempting to repair the old one before it collapses, our attention remains riveted on the multi-faceted challenges of our local and regional food and farm landscapes. “The Hydra-Headed Food System” explores community-level food systems through the ever-evolving lens of climate change, racial equity, food security and access, diet and health, and economic development, not just as stand-alone issues but also through their interrelationships. Developing the analysis and skills for individuals and stakeholder groups to conduct their work is of course essential, but learning how to do that work collaboratively, especially in light of food system complexity, is necessary for success.

Elizabeth Mitcham, PhD – Invited Speaker

Elizabeth Mitcham is director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, a USAID-funded program housed in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis, which advances fruit and vegetable research to support the needs of smallholder farmers in developing countries. As director, Mitcham oversees the program as a whole and is responsible for external relations, strategic planning and financial management. She also serves as a technical resource on horticulture and handling of produce after harvest to reduce postharvest losses. She joined the program as its associate director in 2009 and has served as the program’s director since 2011. Mitcham joined the UC Davis faculty in 1992 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist. She holds degrees in horticulture from the University of Maryland (Ph.D. and B.S.) and North Carolina State University (M.S.). Click here to lean more about Dr. Mitcham!

Session Title – The Role of Urban Farming in Nutrition Security

Abstract – It is amazing and sad to observe the high percentage of individuals in the United States today experiencing dietary deficiencies.  Nearly 40% of individuals over 2 years old are deficient in iron and Vitamin C, 56% are deficient in Vitamin A, and 65% are deficient in calcium. In 2010, 24% of households with children reported not having enough money for food; that number is likely higher today.  There are a variety of causes of malnutrition in the United States, including poverty, access to healthy foods (think food deserts), price differentials between healthy and unhealthy foods, increased perishability of some healthy foods, time for food preparation and meals, lack of awareness and poor dietary habits.  Most citizens in the United States are unaware of where their food comes from.  Urban agriculture can play an important role in improving nutrition security in the local community by increasing access to healthy foods and enhancing the community’s connection to food production and preservation.  Community and school gardens are a successful way to reconnect adults and children to their food; especially healthier food options. Urban and peri-urban agriculture can take many forms. Fruits and vegetables are particularly suited to these locations because they can be grown on small plots, providing income and healthy foods. Plants can be produced in open fields, pots, or raised bed, on trellises and rooftops, and in greenhouses or specialized buildings. Plant production in urban areas also reduces the amount of heat generated within cities, making the city “greener”. However, there are challenges to the success of urban agriculture related to food safety and policy restrictions that must be addressed through dialogue among a range of stakeholders in the community. Working together, the many benefits of urban farming will be achieved.

Jill Clark, PhD – Invited Speaker

Professor Clark’s research is agrifood system policy and practice, centering on community and state governance of food systems, the policy process, and community engagement. Primarily using a community-based research approach, she works with local communities across the United States.

Currently, Professor Clark provides statewide leadership for the Ohio Network of Food Policy Councils and national leadership as an advisory board member for Johns Hopkins Food Policy Network. Internationally, Clark was just awarded a the Fulbright Chair in North American Politics at Carleton University for a comparative study entitled, “Scaling-up food democracy: An analysis of Canadian and U.S. food policy councils.” Locally, she is a member of the executive committee of the Franklin County Local Food Council, board member of Neighborhood Services, a local food pantry, and board member of Best Food Forward.

Professor Clark has a Ph.D. in geography from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Click here to learn more about Dr. Clark!

Session Title – ‘Fixes that Fail:’ Using community-based systems modeling to diagnose inequity in the food system

Abstract – It is well-established that significant inequities are built into the food system, such as retail redlining, unequal access to nutritious food, and disparities in food insecurity and chronic disease. Yet, solutions to address these inequities largely fail to address the underlying complexity of the system, and most often are designed without including the perspective of people whom the solution is meant to benefit. A project based in Cleveland, Ohio, Modeling the Future of Food in Your Neighborhood (foodNEST 2.0), works to address these two deficits in approach. In the words of our university-community partners, the foodNEST 2.0 team is “doing research with the community to make positive neighborhood change in the forces that impact fair access to fresh and healthy foods and financial strength within households. The team is using system dynamics modeling to identify critical points in the food system that can tip things towards fairness.” I will introduce our participatory approach to systems dynamic modeling, and present the model built by our community-university team. I will also provide a primer on diagnosing problematic patterns in food systems that reveal root causes, providing a new way to think about ways to intervene in an inequitable system.




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