Webinars & Training Courses

Webinars facilitate sharing of information learned at the local level from our work with Communities of Innovation and Communities of Opportunity with a broad audience of government leaders and other food system stakeholders.

Community WebinarsWebinars are based on lessons learned from case studies in Communities of Innovation and Communities of Opportunity. The Growing Food Connections team is developing and launching a series of webinars for local elected officials, regional councils and other key stakeholders on how the case study communities developed and implemented a variety of partnerships, planning and policy strategies to strengthen their food systems.



Webinar 1: The Food Systems Planning Process: Understanding the Ups and Downs of the Journey

The webinar emphasizes stakeholder engagement and covers the impetus behind food systems plans, visioning and goal setting, assessments and the process of developing a plan to foster the visions and goals with diverse community stakeholders. Presenters share insights on how to ensure and fund implementation, and the timeline for completion.

Our presenters include Growing Food Connections Project Coordinator Jeanne Leccese of University at Buffalo and representatives from two Communities of Innovation: Cheryal Hills, Executive Director of the Region Five Development Commission (Minnesota); Helen Schnoes, Food Systems Coordinator for Douglas County (Kansas); and Eileen Horn, Sustainability Coordinator for Douglas County and the City of Lawrence (Kansas). Plans for each community are available: http://www.resilientregion.org/ (Region 5) and https://www.lawrenceks.org/pds/lr-H2020 (Douglas/Lawrence.)


Presentation Timeline:

  • Julia Freedgood (0:00 start)
  • Jeanne Leccese (3:06 start)
  • Helen Schnoes and Eileen Horn (23:23 start)
  • Cheryal Hills (1:04:15 start)


Webinar 2: Planning and Policy Techniques to Support Food Systems Planning

Developed especially for local government and community planners, the webinar will focus on planning and policy techniques that support the work of incorporating food systems into community planning. Presenters share insights incorporating food systems work into community planning and policy implementation.

Our presenters include Growing Food Connections Project Coordinator Jeanne Leccese of University at Buffalo, American Planning Association Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services David Rouse and a representative from a Community of Innovation: Tamara Downs Schwei, Homegrown Minneapolis Local Food Policy Coordinator.

Presentation Timeline:

  • Julia Freedgood (0:00 start)
  • Jeanne Leccese (1:46 start)
  • David Rouse (17:30 start)
  • Tamara Downs Schwei (40:55 start)


Webinar 3: Assessment  Tools and Metrics with Erica Campbell, Vermont Farm to Plate

Erica Campbell, Farm to Plate Network Director in Vermont, is our featured speaker on assessment tools and metrics for the third webinar in the GFC Communities of Opportunity webinar series. Vermont passed legislation in 2009 calling for increased economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector, and improved access to healthy local food for all Vermonters. Following the passing of this legislation, the Farm to Plate plan was developed to provide a roadmap and strategic plan for Vermont’s food system. To learn more about Erica and the Farm to Plate plan, please see the following websites: http://www.vtfarmtoplate.com/ and http://www.vsjf.org/who-we-are/staff.

Please note due to technical difficulties the first few minutes of the introduction by Julia Freedgood are not available in the recording.

Presentation Timeline:

  • Julia Freedgood (0:00 start)
  • Erica Campbell (1:28 start)


Webinar 4: A National Scan – Developing Support for Urban Farms

GFC co-hosted a webinar with the American Planning Association featuring new research from Dr. Anu Rangarajan and Molly Riordan of Cornell University on supporting the development of urban farms.


As urban and suburban farms have proliferated around the United States in the past decades, much attention has been paid to their youth engagement, community development, educational and other social impacts. Yet there have been few assessments of how these farm-based social enterprises, which face the narrow margins and high risks of growing produce, can thrive based on the sales of their products alone. Often strong relationships with nonprofit and philanthropic sources have helped urban farms survive. But what can be done to encourage their self-sufficiency for a promising future?

Through a study commissioned by the Local Food Research & Development Division of USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Dr. Anu Rangarajan and Molly Riordan both of Cornell University, have interviewed farmers, policy-makers, urban planners, funders, and nonprofit and community organizers engaged in local food systems and urban farming to uncover the policies, resources, and future research and development needed to support the development of urban farms. They will review examples from case study farms to present relevant farm models, planning policies, and partnerships that point the way toward fulfilling the promise of urban agriculture.


Speaker Bios:

Dr. Anu Rangarajan is a member of the Horticulture faculty at Cornell University and serves as the Statewide Fresh Market Vegetable Specialist for New York. She directs the Cornell Small Farms Program, with a mission to enhance the viability and sustainability of all small farms across the Northeast. Focal areas include local food systems, beginning farmer training, wholesale market readiness, renewable energy and conservation, livestock processing and small dairy innovation and management.  The program offers online and face-to-face training for beginning farmers and service providers. The Small Farm Program also hosts the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project (www.nebeginningfarmers.org).

Molly Riordan, MRP is the former Urban Agriculture Development Program Associate for the Cornell Small Farms Program at Cornell University.  Her research and previous work combined aspects of city planning, regenerative farming practices, farmer training, and local food distribution and market development. Currently, she is the Good Food Purchasing Coordinator for the City of Philadelphia, working between the departments of Public Health and Procurement to help city departments serve food that is better for individual health, the local economy, and the environment.