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Motivating concerns of the Community Food Systems (CFS) Minor:

In a time of rising inequality, environmental uncertainties and health disparities, efforts to reverse these trends through the development of more sustainable and equitable food systems are increasing. Local and regional food systems may play an important role in making food systems healthier and just. These food systems movements are motivated by a variety of goals, spanning social, ethical, environmental, and agricultural interests. For example, urban gardens may be established to increase access to fresh produce for those lacking it, as well as support small business development. Educational support for new/beginning farmers may help to integrate a new generation of farmers, encourage diversified production, and improve agro-ecological practices. Farmers’ markets may be started to reduce the distance from farm to consumer, improving environmental health and community bonds as they grow. The CFS Minor focuses on using collaborative approaches to inform community food system development.

The following questions drive this minor:

  • What makes a local food system equitable? What makes one sustainable?
  • Under what circumstances can equitable and sustainable local food systems emerge and thrive?
  • What values do communities take into consideration when developing their food systems?
  • What social conditions and local policies support sustainable food systems?
  • What lessons can be learned from case studies of local food system development, whether in NYS or elsewhere? How can this knowledge inform and impact practice and policy?
  • How can experiential learning propel students into relevant community engagement? How can they learn from and contribute to community understandings, efforts and practices?
  • How can and should students and faculty members engage, constructively, with self-organizing communities?

Learning objectives:

The CFS Minor intends for students, upon completion of the minor, to be able to:

  1. Understand the social, ecological, and agricultural dimensions of community food systems;
  2. Learn how to critically analyze food systems, including related controversies, and understand implications for sustainability and social justice;
  3. Build knowledge of sustainable and just food system development, grounded in engagement with local communities and organizations;
  4. Nurture skills and capacity for interacting with community partners in responsible, reciprocal, and respectful ways.