Image courtesy Leonor Hurtado/Institute for Food and Development Policy
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill with bipartisan congressional support, recently awarded a $295,000 Seeding Solutions grant to the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California, Berkeley to improve the ecological resilience and economic viability of urban and peri-urban farming systems and improve urban food distribution systems to reduce waste and meet fresh produce needs of low-income consumers. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from UC Berkeley and other private sources for a total investment of nearly $600,000.
The research team includes Charisma Acey, Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning at the College of Environmental Design, who was a Co-Principal Investigator for the project. The team will work to improve the sustainability and resilience of urban farms by building health of soils, conserving water, and promoting beneficial insects. Researchers will also evaluate the effectiveness of existing urban and peri-urban food access and food distribution methods for meeting food needs of urban low-income, food insecure communities.
“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to support this integrated approach to improving the economic and environmental strength of urban agriculture systems,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “This project shows exciting potential to improve urban farmer livelihoods and nutrition in food insecure communities.”
Policy recommendations and best practice outcomes will be developed in close collaboration with low-income and culturally diverse communities, community leaders, technology and marketing innovators, policy advocates, food producers, educators and extension specialists. The Berkeley Food Institute is providing coordination in this project and will work with the team to disseminate the results widely to decision makers, community advocates, and urban food producers and distributors.
Collaborators include several Bay-Area nonprofit organizations, such as the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agricultureand Planting Justice. Research will take place in the East Bay Area, and researchers anticipate that their findings will be applicable to other urban communities throughout the United States.
This project is supported by FFAR through its Seeding Solutions grant program, which calls for bold, innovative, and potentially transformative research proposals in the Foundation’s seven Challenge Areas. This grant supports the Urban Food Systems Challenge Area, which aims to enhance our ability to feed urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture, augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.