Team and Partners

Growing Food Connections is a diverse partnership of experts and stakeholders from across the United States. 

6 core groups across the GFC activitiesResearchers, educators, students, planners and partners are working within the communities to understand the barriers and innovations to create and provide policy tools and training.  The team uses an integrated approach to generate knowledge, build capacity of communities, and nurture future educators and scholars.

The  project is guided by a National Advisory Committee with representation from diverse disciplines, regions and backgrounds.

Growing Food Connections is made possible with a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2012-68004-19894.

Growing Food Connections is a diverse partnership of researchers, extension and planning practitioners and food systems stakeholders. The partnership includes six core groups, all of which will play a role in the researchplanning & policy and education areas of Growing Food Connections.


1 Leadership

Four investigators, representing academic and professional realms, lead the research, practice (extension and planning practice), and education activities of the project. Additionally, the team has included a number of students and staff who continue to contribute to the project.

Lead team members

Samina Raja, PhD190_ub

Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections

Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo

Principal Investigator, Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab


Jill Clark, PhDOSU-John-Glenn-College-Logo-190x29

Co-Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections

Assistant Professor, John Glenn School of Public AffairsOhio State University


Julia Freedgood, MA190_aft

Co-Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections

Assistant Vice President of Programs, American Farmland Trust


Kimberley Hodgson, MURP, MS, AICP, RD190_chp

Co-Principal Investigator, Growing Food Connections

Principal, Cultivating Healthy Places


American Planning Association2
Key Partner: American Planning Association

The American Planning Association‘s Planning and Community Health Research Center (PCH) has undertaken significant work in the area of food systems planning. PCH continues to build upon this work by supporting the research, policy & practice, and education activities of Growing Food Connections, to strengthen local and regional food systems planning in the United States.


National Advisory Committee3 National Advisory Committee (NAC) Members

A diverse team of advisors from across the United States offer guidance on the overall direction of the project. National Advisory Committee members include Will Allen, Timothy Griffin, Mary Hendrickson, Fred Kirschenmann, Young Kim, Kameshwari (Kami) Pothukuchi, Louie Rivers, Jr. and Eduardo Sanchez.


Subject Matter Experts4 Subject Matter Experts

A team of subject matter experts from a wide variety of disciplines help deliver workshops and trainings in Communities of Opportunity.



Communities of Opportunity5 Stakeholders: Communities of Opportunity

Representatives from Communities of Opportunity help us understand the policy barriers in their communities, and work with Growing Food Connections to facilitate the deployment of policy tools to strengthen food systems.


Communities of Innovation6 Stakeholders: Communities of Innovation

Representatives from Communities of Innovation help Growing Food Connections understand the innovative policies, programs and public investments that work to reconnect farmers to food insecure populations in their communities.