University of Virginia Explores Next Steps Of Assessments And Needs Toward A Sustainable Regional Food System with Charlottesville Community

June 06, 2006
June 6, 2006 — To explore questions of a sustainable food system that will establish more opportunities for fresh, healthy, locally grown food and favorably impact the community and economy in the Charlottesville region, a second meeting of interested community members with students and professors at the University of Virginia will be held on Thursday, June 15, at the Gordon Avenue Library from noon to 2 p.m.

The meeting is intended to encourage dialogue and explore collaboration among the community groups and with faculty experts and students in the University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, who spent the spring semester assessing Charlottesville’s regional food system. The goal of the June 15 meeting is to explore best-practices to support local farming and begin laying the groundwork for the development of a Regional Community Food Plan.

In a spring class titled "Planning for a Sustainable and Secure Community Food System," taught by Timothy Beatley, the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, and Tanya Denckla Cobb, a senior associate at the Institute for Environmental Negotiation, graduate and undergraduate students conducted an assessment of Charlottesville's regional food system, which they presented to the public at a May 8 public meeting. Their approach incorporated ideas of food as part of the city and region’s infrastructure, an emerging field in urban planning.

Some of the questions they tackled were: Is our community food system sustainable?  Is it secure?  Can we establish more opportunities for fresh, healthy, locally grown food? Questions of public health issues associated with community food supply as well as the economic impacts, including the effect on local labor force and businesses, were also explored. 

The students also looked at how food is related to the health of community members and the environment as well as the economics of local production and distribution of food versus the cost of getting food from distant producers and distributors.

A spring 2007 class will continue exploring the issues and develop a food plan for Charlottesville.