Food systems planning in Austin/Travis County : the role of farmers

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Wimberg, Nicholas Taylor

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The presence of food systems in the realm of planning has gained considerable recognition over the years. Healthy food access, urban agriculture, and sustainable agricultural practices seem to be of particular interest as these topics relate to other planning issues such as public health, placemaking, and resilience. Throughout this increase of interest by both citizens (consumers/producers) and researchers the majority of attention has been on how food systems affect cities and on those food injustices everso present in today’s world. I make the argument however, that if we hope to support prolonged growth and strength in our food systems (plans) we must also focus attention on the assumptions, worries, and needs of supply-side food systems stakeholders/actors such as farmers and farmworkers. I propose here, the need to consider farmer perspectives in the creation of an equitable local food system. With the pressure of urban growth in Austin’s eastern rural-urban interface, intervention will be necessary if we hope to preserve the prime farmland found here. Following theories of communicative planning, a comprehensive review of related literature and Austin/Travis County food policy documents will be compared against feedback from stakeholder interviews. This comparison will show how effective Austin/Travis County have been in achieving the sustainable food system they describe in their documents. I believe that farmers will provide valuable information on agricultural land use needs that has not yet been fully considered by Austin/Travis County in their work toward a more equitable food system.


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