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Successful Food Dignity application for the 2014 Community-Campus Partnerships for Health annual award



This document is the Food Dignity team's successful application for the 2014 Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Annual Award which recognizes “exemplary partnerships between communities and academic institutions that are striving to achieve the systems and policy changes needed to overcome the root causes of health, social, environmental and economic inequalities.” Our award plaque reads that is is given "in recognition of your ability to mobilize community and academic partners to collaboratively build sustainable community food systems to achieve food security."
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Section 1
a. Title/Name of the Partnership: Food Dignity
b. Partnership Representative:
Name: Christine Porter, Ph.D.
Title/Position: Assistant Professor of Public Health
Organization/Affiliation: University of Wyoming
Mailing Address: 117 Corbett Hall
1000 E. University Ave, Dept. 3196
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-2143
Fax: (307) 766-4098
c. How did you hear about the CCPH Annual Award? CCPH email
d. Application abstract
The Food Dignity Community-Campus Partnership is collaboration between five community partners, three
academic institutions and one “action-think” tank. The purpose of the partnership is to learn how the people
in the five communities strive to build sustainable community food systems to reduce food insecurity. The
community partners all struggle with historical trauma and severe deprivation associated with poverty and
exclusion from the mainstream economic system, including access to fresh, healthy food. Project funding
provides a community food system organizing support package to each community over five years to use as
it determines best to address the problem of food insecurity. The academic partners provide support for the
communities and provide capacity for documenting progress and accomplishments. The partnership has
evolved out of a deep commitment to community-driven process. Over the first three years of the work,
significant struggles in community-campus relationships have emerged and demanded the attention of all
partners. With substantial hard work and intention to identify, name and address these challenges of
differential power and privilege, the partnership has produced important learningin both understanding
how to build a sustainable community food system and in building and maintaining healthy, productive
relationships between community and academic partners. None of this work has been easy. Yet with
passion, persistence and commitment the partnership continues to evolve and grow. The partnership
documents these lessons and shares the lessons in a variety of professional and community venues.
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Section 2: List of Partners
What organizations and individuals comprise your partnership? Please list them and include a
one-sentence description of each.
East New York Farms!, Brooklyn, NY, began in 1998, growing out of community need for open
space and activities for youth, now operates urban farms, supports neighborhood community
gardens, manages a neighborhood farmers’ market and provides youth development programs.
David Vigil, Director.
The Whole Community Project, Ithaca, NY, began in 2006, brings community-based,
participatory urban agriculture and educational programs to underserved communities in Tompkins
County, NY, leading to the development of community gardens, a community farmers’ market and
an incubator commercial kitchen. Jemila Sequiera, Director.
Feeding Laramie Valley, Laramie WY, launched in 2009 to facilitate collaborative, equitable,
sustainable local food production and access between and among traditional agencies and
grassroots social change organizations, manages frontline programs to increase access to healthy
food to community elders and low-income residents; operates a food rescue program in the town’s
farmers’ market; develops community gardens and production gardens for community sharing;
leads initiatives to build front-yard gardens; and evaluates backyard gardening outcomes using
measures of harvest yields. Gayle Woodsum, Founder & Director.
Blue Mountain Associates, Wind River Reservation, WY, began in 2010 to address community
food insecurity among Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone people with a mini-grant program
that supports families who build gardens to grow vegetables, raise chickens, produce and sell eggs,
grow ceremonial tobacco for sale in the farmers’ market that operates several days each week at
different reservation locations. Virginia Sutter, Founder & Director.
Dig Deep Farms & Produce, unincorporated San Leandro, CA, started in 2010 as an urban farm
and community-supported agriculture program with the intention to produce, distribute and sell
fresh, healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food to low-income communities of color in
vulnerable communities in the East Bay, to provide employment for citizens re-entering the
community from the county jail, and to create ownership opportunities for community members.
Marty Neideffer, Co-founder and Director.
The University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, is the academic base for the Food Dignity project,
under the direction of principal investigator, Christine Porter, assistant professor of Public Health
in the Department of Kinesiology and Health, who oversees all research activities for the project;
provides research support for Feeding Laramie Valley and Blue Mountain Associates; and supports
the development of the new sustainable food system minor with a community advisory board in
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, provides research support for the Whole Community Project and
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
East New York Farms!, along with research capacity for agroecology, ethnographic research and
narrative analysis, and evaluation of the mini-grant program provided to each community site.
Cornell, with a community advisory board (currently in formation), also provides academic support
for the development of a new sustainable food systems minor. Scott Peters, principal investigator
for the Cornell parts of Food Dignity.
Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, provides internship and service learning opportunities for students at
Ithaca College in ways that serve both student and community needs and build on their assets.
Amy Frith, Julia Lapp and Alicia Swords, Lead Investigators.
The Center for Popular Research, Education and Policy, Oakland, CA, is a non-profit
organization that supports action research, training and technical assistance to Dig Deep Farms &
Produce and carries out the “6th Case Study” that focuses on the relationship between community
and academic partners in the Food Dignity project. Hank Herrera, President & CEO.
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Section 3: Essay
1. What is the history/background of how and why your partnership started?
The Food Dignity project grew out of the experience gained by Christine Porter, Principal
Investigator, while she carried out her dissertation research at Cornell University. Her research
focused on how three communities addressed childhood obesity, including the mix of policy work
and action, and the impact of small mini-grants on motivating actions. This work encouraged her
to consider how a package of support for community-based action and research could drive the
development of sustainable community food systems that reduce food insecurity. In early 2010 the
USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative issued a call for proposals under the Global Food
Security program. Christine consulted with several colleagues on the feasibility and desirability of
submitting an application that poses both a value system and a research question: “Our project
title, ‘Food Dignity,’ signals both our ethical stance that human and community agency in food
systems is an end in itself and our scientific hypothesis that building civic and institutional
capacity to engage in sustainable community food systems for food security action will improve
the sustainability and equity of our local food systems and economies.” To evaluate the
hypothesis, the proposal called for a support package providing resources for community-based
research and small-minigrants to support community-designed actions, for each of five
communities throughout the United States.
Christine then identified five potential community partners. She spoke to the leaders of each
community partner, explained the project and asked permission to include that partner in the
project. Gayle Woodsum, community liaison for the project and director of Feeding Laramie
Valley, wrote, “One of the things that impressed me from the start of working on this project, was
that Christine did not just call me and ask if FLV would be one of 5 community sites. She asked
what I thought of the grant idea in general, asked if I was interested enough to review drafts of the
project design and contribute to it, asked me to work with my community to design our own scope
of work we would be willing to contribute to the project. And, even more importantly, what has
kept FLV involved and willing to be an active partner, is the fact that every step of the way right
up to the moment I am writing this, the key players in this projectChristine, Hank, Scott,
Suzanne, Phil, Jemila, Marty, Sarita, Dr. Sutter, Monica and so many of the individual contributors
to the community sites’ work—have always been not only open to but welcoming of challenge,
change, unusual/unexpected applications of the grant/project original dictates.
While Christine already had established relationships with two of the partners based on prior
collaboration, she needed to build trusting relationships with three of themall while finishing her
dissertation and planning to move to her new academic appointment at the University of Wyoming.
Her outreach to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes bears witness to both her
capacity to build trust and her commitment to true community-campus partnership. After meeting
the principal partners at Blue Mountain Associates, Dr. Virginia Sutter and her son, Jim Sutter, and
with no prior experience working on a reservation, she asked for permission to speak to the Joint
Tribal Council. At this meeting she explained the project and asked permission to bring the project
to the reservation and to work with Blue Mountain Associates. Historically the two tribes do not
cooperate. Nevertheless, her humility and demonstrated respect for tribal customs and traditions
gained her immediate and enthusiastic permission to carry out the project on the reservation.
After recruiting community and academic partners, Christine wrote a successful application, with
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
an award of almost five million dollars over the five-year project period. The grant provides a
support package of almost $300,000 to each community partner over the course of the project.
2. What are the mission and goals of your partnership, and how were they determined?
The mission of the Food Dignity project is to trace the paths taken by five US communities and to
collaborate in mapping and documenting the most appropriate and effective roads forward for creating
sustainable community food systems to achieve food security.
The project has the following long-term goals and supporting objectives, using the language from the
original project narrative:
1. Identifying, developing and evaluating scalable strategies for organizing sustainable
community food systems to achieve food security, in collaboration with communities facing
food insecurity by:
a. Developing and comparing retrospective case studies of sustainable community food
systems in five communities.
b. Testing and evaluating a sustainable community food system organizing support
“package” with each community, including support for a community organizer, a
steering committee, microgrants, community “animators” or catalyzers, and
community-based participatory research (CBPR) activities.
c. Building and analyzing 4-year prospective case studies with each community,
including documenting participation and actions/initiatives and tracking the impact of
microgrants and other support package strategies.
d. Evaluating the impact of selected community food system initiatives as nested case
studies. For example, we will quantify harvests and estimate economic and nutritional
values of food produced in these gardens. We will also develop user-friendly,
standardized methods that can be used in urban food producing systems for assessing
other garden-related processes that stakeholders are interested in monitoring.
2. Expanding capacity to catalyze, support and research sustainable community food systems
for food security in cooperative extension, community-based organizations (CBOs), citizens
living in low-income communities, and universities through:
a. Conducting the activities in Goal 1.
b. Creating in-site and cross-site communities of practice with the nine project partners
for sharing and generating learning.
c. Creating new undergraduate, cross-disciplinary minor areas of study in sustainable
food systems (SFS) at University of Wyoming (UW) and Cornell University (CU) and
expanding internship and service learning opportunities for students at these institutions
and at Ithaca College (IC) in ways that serve both student and community needs and
build on their assets.
d. Developing several interactive online courses on sustainable community food
systems for food security, plus policy, practice and research briefs, available nationally
for cooperative extension and CBOs and for integration into university courses.
While couched in the language of the academy, in an application submitted to USDA scientists for
review, in fact Christine and the project team designed the mission and goals based on their lived
experiences working on childhood obesity prevention and community food security initiatives over a
number of years. The team consulted with “key informants” in all of the prospective community sites
to vet the main goals and objectives with those potential partners. The end result of this design process
is a mission, goals and objectives that reflect the “down on the ground” needs and priorities of five
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
communities suffering from lack of healthy food access and exclusion from the mainstream industrial
food system. The support package brings new resources to the communities that they control and use
to build their local food systems as they see fit to meet their own needs.
3. How does your partnership define “community” and how do you interpret that
definition in the composition, mission, goals and activities of your partnership?
The Food Dignity partnership uses a complicated yet realistic, multifaceted definition of
community. At the most concrete level, community is a space and a place. The dimensions of
these spaces vary considerably. For example, East New York Farms! serves East New York in
Brooklyn, NY. East New York is a very small area, about two square miles with high population
density, about 40,000 people per square mile. Blue Mountain Associates serves the Wind River
Reservation, a land area of 3,473 square miles with a native population of only about 12,000.
Community in this partnership also refers to the people and their cultures inhabiting those spaces.
For example, East New York is largely African American and Latino. Wind River is
predominantly Native American. Community additionally refers to class. The members of the five
partner communities are almost all low-income, often the lowest income neighborhoods in their
regions. The definition of community also refers to dimensions of sufferingfrom poverty; from
exclusion from resources, the mainstream economy, and educational opportunity; from racism;
from high rates of unemployment and incarceration; from historical trauma; from lack of access to
healthy food and from other forms of structural violence. Together these characteristics construct a
definition of community that is simultaneously obvious and invisible. Most people immediately
recognize these characteristics of low-income communities of color. But most East Bay residents
have no idea that the poorest communities in the East Bay are Ashland and Cherryland, the
primary communities served by Dig Deep Farms & Produce. Yet they drive by these communities
on the major highways, I-880 and I-580, without seeing them.
The Food Dignity project takes this definition as essential to the composition, mission, goals and
activities of the partnership. Christine and her advisors in the initial project planning exercised an
explicit intention to work with these communities as a “preferential option for the poor”, to borrow
the phrase from liberation theology. The five community sites all fit the definition of “food desert”
and lack access to fresh, healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food from non-emergency
sources. The five sites lack resources for building capacity to design, implement and operate their
own sustainable community food systems to build resilience and food security.
4. What is the governance structure and decision making process for your partnership?
Food Dignity formed an advisory committee with the lead representatives from each partner
organization that provides advice and counsel for major partnership decisions, such as the location
and agenda for the annual partners meeting; development of project-wide research plans and
protocols, such as the 6th Case Study; and broad questions on project direction and use of
resources. Christine, as principal investigator, has ultimate responsibility for the use of federal
grant funds and thus authority for decisions on the use of grant funds. To carry out this duty, she
seeks advice from a small group from the advisory committee who serve as an informal “executive
committee”. This group includes a balance of community and academic partners, including
Gayle, Hank and Scott. Community partners make Food Dignity program decisions within the
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
framework of their written scopes of work that they negotiated with Christine and with the
University of Wyoming as the fiscal agent for the management of federal funds.
5. What funding supports your partnership and how are decisions made about (a) which
funding sources to pursue, (b) what entity serves as fiscal agent and (c) how funding
is allocated?
A five-year, five million dollar grant from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the US
Department of Agriculture funds the Food Dignity Partnership. Food Dignity partners agreed to
participate in the project based on the grant framework and research plan. As previously noted,
Christine developed this research plan based on her own community-based work and the
contributions of consultants during the development of the original proposal. Within this
framework and plan, the partnership has a moderate degree of freedom to tailor the activities to the
priorities and needs of community partners. The Food Dignity project is completing its third year
of activity. To date, the partnership has not pursued other funding sources. The University of
Wyoming serves as fiscal agent. Funding is allocated based on the project budget approved by the
federal funding agency. There is a moderate degree of flexibility in funding allocations to meet the
needs of both academic and community partners.
6. What community-campus partnership strategies does your partnership pursue, and
how do these help to achieve your mission and goals?
The Food Dignity partnership engages people from five communities with people from three
academic institutions and one hybrid, grass roots, “think and do” learning center. This statement
privileges the human beings from each sector. Through this engagement of real people,
community knowledge and wisdom, grounded in the everyday community experience, has
informed, challenged and disrupted the basic assumptions, beliefs and abstract knowledge of the
academy. The Food Dignity partnership intentionally fosters and promotes this disruptive
engagement as the first major strategy leading to new knowledge and mutual learning.
We recognized very soon after the start of the Food Dignity project that the meaning of the
partnership differed between academic and community participants. For academics, Food Dignity
was another research project in their academic portfolios and they approached it with the same
expectations for objectivity and rigor as other research projects. However for the communities,
healthy food access and food insecurity was a literally a matter of life and death. For example, the
life expectancy on the Wind River Reservation is 49 years, compared to almost 80 years in the
United States. In the words of one academic, “For many of us ‘the project’ may be only one of our
many ‘projects’ but for many of our community partners maybe there really is only one project and
maybe they are living it daily.…Maybe these things cannot be properly addressed as long as the
story and struggle for Food Dignity is merely a project for some people and a way of life for
others.” Even though some of the academic partners report feeling fringe within their
organizations for doing this kind of work, their “fringe” is inches from the privileged center of the
academy, compared to the metaphorical miles between academia and the truly marginalized groups
the community partners are engaging. Team members’ radically varied locations and life courses,
enmeshed in gross social inequities, create markedly different lived realities. A major Food
Dignity strategy is to tackle the tall tasks of accounting for, acknowledging, and (as possible)
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
bridging these realities in the struggle for Food Dignity and, more importantly, for food dignity.
The Food Dignity partnership pursues additional community-campus partnership strategies, as
described briefly in the following examples:
Feeding Laramie Valley has a service-learning project with University of Wyoming
Dig Deep Farms & Produce hosts University of California at Berkeley undergraduate
students for their “De-Cal” alternative spring break service-learning program.
The Whole Community Project hosts undergraduate and graduate students from Cornell
University in service-learning programs.
Each community partner has funds to support a part-time community researcher to pursue
research on community food problems defined and driven by the community. For example,
East New York Farms!, Feeding Laramie Valley and Blue Mountain Associates have
carried out Photo Voice projects documenting their local food environments and the
meaning of healthy food for community residents.
Feeding Laramie Valley designed and conducted a study of home and community garden
yields with micro-grant support to the gardeners, demonstrating the capacity for the gardens
to produce enough vegetables to supply a family for almost one year.
Food Dignity community partners have leveraged project funds for community and
economic development. The Whole Community Project supported the travel of community
residents to Detroit for meetings with the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
and its leaders, including Malik Yakini and Monica White. In addition the Whole
Community Project helped to organize a Food Justice Summit, with a keynote address by
Charity Hicks, one of the founders of the Detroit Black Community Food Security
Network. Community residents met Ms. Hicks on their Detroit trip and invited her to
Ithaca. East New York Farms! uses the mini-grant resource for community and economic
development through a community advisory committee that reviews applications and
awards mini-grants. In addition this committee evaluates progress. This activity builds
community capacity and social capital. The mini-grants support a range of activities, from
micro-enterprise start-up to an innovative support program for middle school students.
Blue Mountain Associations, Feeding Laramie Valley and the University of Wyoming
teamed to leverage funding for the “Growing Resilience” pilot study of the healthy benefits
of home gardens on the Wind River Reservation and in Southeastern Wyoming. In 2013,
Dig Deep Farms & Produce sponsored a food entrepreneurship class presented by the
Alameda County Small Business Development Center.
Two Food Dignity academic partners, the University of Wyoming and Cornell University
are forming community advisory boards to work collaboratively on the development of new
sustainable food system minors.
In addition to the service-learning programs previously described, the University of
Wyoming, Cornell University and Ithaca College, in partnership with Feeding Laramie
Valley and the Whole Community Project, are creating community-engaged learning
courses and internships.
Food Dignity partners are building online case studies for integration in courses and
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
available to the public.
These community-campus partnership strategies enable the Food Dignity partnership to achieve its
mission and goals: To trace the paths taken by five US communities and to collaborate in mapping
and documenting the most appropriate and effective roads forward for creating sustainable community
food systems to achieve food security by (1) identifying, developing and evaluating strategies for
organizing sustainable community food systems to achieve food security, in collaboration with
communities facing food insecurity; and (2) expanding capacity to catalyze, support and carry out
research on sustainable community food systems in cooperative extension, community-based
organizations (CBOs), citizens living in low-income communities, and universities.
However, Food Dignity partnership strategies intentionally and consistently resist and contest the usual
relationships of power and privilege in community-campus collaboration. Food Dignity partnership
strategies restore subjectivity to community partners, recognizing community partners as active agents
who participate in the research with the capacity for reflection and critical analysis. In Food Dignity
community partners are not passive research objects. Food Dignity community partners use a
decolonizing framework for understanding and defining their relationship with academic partners. This
approach provides equity in power and decision-making.
The Food Dignity approach respects and benefits from the knowledge, wisdom and experience of
community partners. Community knowledge provides a rich, powerful learning environment for
academic partners in the ongoing struggle to understand and solve the pervasive health, social,
economic and environmental conditions that impact vulnerable communities.
7. How does your partnership assess and reflect on progress towards your mission and
goals, and how is this information used by the partnership?
The Food Dignity partnership uses a comprehensive multi-methods strategy for assessing and
reflecting on progress. This strategy includes the following elements:
Case study methodology with each community partner to document:
o Local food system and organizational history
o Strategies and arenas of action and impact
o Use and effectiveness of the “organizing support package”
o Tracking who participates in the project
Nested impact studies of selected actions/projects
Tracking use and outcomes of $150,000 of minigrants
Home/community garden agroecology measures:
o How much food do they yield?
o Cover cropping impact on weeds and fertility
The “6th case study” of the FD collaboration itself, the struggles, challenges and strategies
in community-campus and interdisciplinary work.
Case study methods include gathering data from collected files from each project (with hundreds of
files from each project); media and literature reviews; stakeholder interviews (more than 30 to
date); tracking minigrant process and projects; Photo Voice by project actors; reports from
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
community-based researchers; participation and observation (a minimum of three to four visits per
year to each project by academic team members) with field notes.
Data analysis includes using the software program Atles.ti for coding project documents,
interviews and field notes from visits to community partners to identify project strategies, actions,
and challenges; media and literature reviews; narrative inquiry analysis (story-based, holistic) of
interviews; and story and case writing by community partners and photo narratives.
The partnership uses this data analysis to assess progress toward the achievement of its mission
and goals and to reflect upon and discern potential “course corrections” to the development of the
sustainable community in each community. Community partners are full partners in the data
collection and analysis, working collaboratively with academic partners to understand the meaning
and implication of the data and the work.
8. What outcomes or results have been achieved by your partnership and what evidence
can you provide to support these?
The Food Dignity partnership has achieved important outcomes and results in its first three years.
In terms of approximate numbers, the partnership has had these impacts:
Food Dignity has engaged over forty direct team members;
Food Dignity has engaged ten additional stakeholders in each community, a total of fifty
community members, e.g., mini-grantees, community researchers;
Seventy five gardeners participating in agroecology research;
Additional community members impacted by current minigrant projects, e.g., people who
either receive or buy fresh produce from community and home gardeners;
Three hundred sixty students exposed to the community work;
Twenty-four national presentations, one international presentation, twelve local
presentations and two publications.
Beyond enumeration the Food Dignity partnership has produced the following provisional results
from the case studies:
Community partners struggle constantly with cash flow and, always, with inadequate or
barely adequate funding levels;
Community partner leaders experience systemic stress; they are overworked, underpaid,
under attack from all sides;
Community partners are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the industrial food system’s
money and power;
Community partners must deal with funder traps”: They receive no funding for indirect
costs; they respond to funder demands for “newprograms; funders expect that programs
will sustain themselves without new funding; they deal with mission creep or conflict; they
have a high reporting burden with no resources for grants management; they deal with
significant constraints on allowable supplies (e.g., can buy a toilet but no toilet paper); they
have little self-determination; they must meet short timelines; and they work in enforced
silos (e.g., count only one thing in a program with multiple benefits);
In order to grow new leadership, community programs must provide long-term mentorship
but do not have the time and support to provide it.
In addition to these identified challenges, the case studies so far have revealed several positive
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Community partners have learned to leverage multiple funding streams. For example, Dig
Deep Farms & Produce has funding from sources such as the Alameda County Social
Services Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Community partners have learned to bridge silos, tapping “new” resources. For example,
Dig Deep Farms & Produce engages local government agencies, East Bay food movement
people, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and grassroots folks working together to
close gaps that usually keep them apart.
Community partners work to create new farming and food system jobs for community
Food Dignity partners are developing and following citizen leaders. By “flipping”
community-university relations, middle-class whites in the academy wait and follow the
leadership from food insecure community partners. Following actually means waiting
especially when the academy and official agenciesand white middle class valuespush
the community partners to act before they are ready.
Food Dignity partners work intentionally and explicitly on dignity and pride principles.
Food Dignity partners invest in citizens, e.g., with the mini-grants.
Feeding Laramie Valley with University of Wyoming researchers evaluated the impact of tiny
mini-grants on home garden action. They gave $40 dollar garden store gift certificates to half of
the people (randomly selected) who attended a gardening workshop in April 2011, before the
summer growing season. They found the following results:
In fall 2011 (after the growing season ended), they asked participants for the size of their
2010 (before receiving gift certificates) and 2011 (after receiving gift certificates) food
The study started with 64 people attending a gardening workshop. Of this initial group, the
study ended up with 25 intervention households that received a minigrant and 19 controls
that did not receive a minigrant, with a total of 44 households in the study, which the
investigators considered good participation.
The main finding was that households receiving minigrants increased their garden size
significantly more than controls.
The researchers concluded that tiny minigrant amounts increased gardening action,
showing great promise for minigrant strategies leading to social change. However, more
complex action and communities with fewer resources than this study group (such as Food
Dignity mini-grantees) will probably require more support and funding.
Another study by this same group in Laramie, WY, asked the research question, do home and
community gardens produce meaningful amounts of food, even in Laramie’s 56-day growing
season? They found the following results:
Twenty-six gardeners weighed their entire 2013 food harvest from 33 plots (including two
communal frontyard gardens).
They grew 4,519 pounds of produce on a total of 9,355 square feet of land (0.215 acres).
This produce had a market value of $15,982.
Following the USDA recommendation for vegetable consumption of 2.5 cups per day per
person, the produce from these gardens could provide the recommended daily vegetable
requirement for one person for almost a full.
The researchers provisionally concluded that home gardens can significantly contribute to
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
family food supply, even in a harsh climate and without using season extensions.
The 6th Case Study asks the question of how can and should universities support communities in
building secure, sustainable and equitable food systems and in learning from that work? This study
uses the same data collection and analysis methods as the community partner case studies. The 6th
Case Study assumes that the universities concentrate resources, power, privilege and technical
expertise and the communities lack power, privilege and resources but have rich experience and
contextual wisdom. Three themes have emerged so far in this study:
Historical trauma has had significant impact on the people in each of the five Food Dignity
community sites, including injustice perpetrated at hands of universities. This trauma is
reproduced in current Food Dignity inequities, e.g., in salary differences between academic
and community staff, with indirect costs, fringe benefits, job security and with control of
the grant funds.
As previously described, some team memberscommunity and academic alikefeel like
they do not belong in community-campus working milieu of Food Dignity and that they are
on the fringe, outside of their usual affiliations. Community partners feel detached from
their community base. Academics feel isolated from their academic base. Both community
and academic partners struggle to name and describe these feelings of estrangement.
The Food Dignity partnership is a project for academics but deals with everyday life and
death issues for communities.
The 6th Case Study has provided one more vitally important result. The partnership has gained
new understanding for improving community-campus collaboration.
In Food Dignity partners push academics to work from heart and soul, not just head:
If research doesn’t change you as a person, then you aren’t doing it right.
Wilson, Research is Ceremony, 2008
Dignity is something that does not reside in one’s head. Dignity walks in the heart.
Zapatista leadership declaration, 1995
Food Dignity partners spend time together at annual Food Dignity meetings and when
traveling to national meetings to give presentations.
Food Dignity partners co-author, co-present and co-design research whenever possible.
Food Dignity partners share financial resources, even if it is not equitable.
Food Dignity support bridge people—individuals who have the ability to “walk” back and
forth between the community and academic domains.
Dignity is a bridge.
It needs two sides that, being different, distinct and distant become one in the bridge
without ceasing to be different and distinct, but ceasing already to be distant.
Zapatista March of Dignity, Puebla, Feb 2nd, 2001
Finally, the Food Dignity partnership has produced other provisional impacts:
Several academic partners have experienced profound transformation through their work
with Food Dignity. They have gained new awareness and deep understanding of
themselves and communities that they previously had not known. This result continues to
unfold as the project continues.
Leadership by several Food Dignity community and academic partners is helping to shape
the national agenda for equitable research partnerships to eliminate health disparities
through participation in the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.
The Food Dignity partnership has generated a new action research project, “Growing
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Resilience: home gardens as a health intervention” with Dr. Porter, Blue Mountain
Associates and Feeding Laramie Valley.
9. How does your partnership strive for equity and justice within the partnership?
The Food Dignity partnership uses a theory of change that posits that the community “support
package” for community organizing, community research, mini-grants and technical assistance will
promote equity between the community and the university. At each annual meeting of the Food
Dignity partners there have been facilitated discussions of power imbalances and privilege. In the
past three annual meetings there has been anti-racist and anti-oppression training for all partners.
This training intends to create safe space for the difficult conversations and learning that all
partners need to more effectively strive for equity and justice within the partnership.
Beyond our theory of change, meetings and trainings, it is the way in which this partnership has
held on with greater dedication and creativity even as things get messier and more complicated that
makes it unique and game changing. Simply reporting that we have had discussions about power
equity and participated in anti-racism workshops does not capture the raw passion of our exchange
and deep attempt at learning beyond shallow platitudes, then applying what we have learned.
In the Food Dignity project, all participants have contributed equity and value, beginning with the
day Christine began to receive mentoring from Jemila in her research and community values
10. To what do you attribute your success as a partnership?
Food Dignity partners have a fierce commitment to their communities, to their projects, to the
partnership and to each other. This commitment manifests itself in many ways, but especially
when the path is obscure and confusing, when disagreements emerge, when conflict seems
overwhelming, and when the hurt and fear are almost unbearable. It might be a problem with the
budget. It might be different interpretations of project intentions. It might be disagreement over
tactics. Advanced stage cancer struck two of Food Dignity’s most important leaders, in succeeding
years. Everyone did their best to rally around and support these beloved colleagues through their
brutal treatments and, thankfully, their current recoveries. Nothing in this project has been easy.
Gardening is hard. Farming is hard. Organizing food distribution is hard. Building a local food
system to generate public health and economic benefits is hard. Getting along with each other
under severe stress is hard. Yet, we all keep at it. Fierce commitment to food justice. Fierce
determination to achieve social justice. Persistence. Perseverance. Food dignity people are all
very smart people but it is our ability to feel and think at the same time that makes us successful.
11. What lessons have you learned about community-campus partnerships that you
believe are important to share with others?
The most important lesson that we have learned about community-campus partnerships is that the
partnership must be real and authentic. Community people have long endured academic
researchers dropping down on communities to “study” some problem or other. They can quickly
discern whether the university visitor has the genuine interest of the community at heart or is
committed to her or his own research and needs to have a convenient supply of research subjects.
Community people will reject such overtures, even with smiles and polite conversation. The
academic wishing to do collaborative work with a community must enter the community not as the
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
superior expert with answers but as the humble learner with open mind and open heart. Paolo
Freire, of course, described this approach in The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, one of the
foundational texts for what has become “community-based participatory research”.
However, much of the published literature and many academic presentations on a community-
based participatory research (CBPR) project suggest that the researcher does not mean entering the
community with humility and willingness to learn from community people. More frequently the
researcher gives the distinct impression that she or he did the work in a community in contrast to a
university classroom or laboratory (thus “community-based”), that she or he worked in an agency
or with a group in the community (thus “participatory”, i.e., the researcher participated in
something), and that the community agency or group did something and the research joined in
(thus, the “action”).
There is probably no perfect example of community-based participatory action research. However
we believe it is idealand essentialto first create an authentic relationship with a community by
listening to people long enough to learn from the everyday life conditions which they consider
problematic; to wait for them to pose the questionsthe research questionsthat they want
answered; and to continue to wait until they ask the researcher if she or he might want to help find
a way for the community people to answer their own research questions.
A second critical lesson is that the fiscal agent must strive to allocate funding in equitable ways to
community partners. The budget process must be transparent and, ultimately, fully participatory in
development. Wage scales must also be transparent and compensation for community and
academic partners must be equitable.
A final lesson to share is that there is often a reality gap between the academy and the community.
The everyday life of a community resident struggling with low-income, food insecurity, possibly
poor health, street violence, etc., simply does not match the everyday life of the academic who
enjoys a good salary and a comfortable middle class life. Community and academic partners will
need to devote substantial time and energy to build understanding across these gaps.
Accomplishing this goal is essential for a successful community-campus partnership.
12. Partnerships can lead and inspire transformation at societal, institutional,
organizational, and personal levels. How does your partnership exemplify
The Food Dignity partnership leads and inspires transformation first at the individual level, as
already described briefly in this essay. We see individual level transformation in academic
partners and community partners. We see it in established professors startled by the intensity of
dealing with historical trauma. We see it in graduate students struggling with their professional
identities as they encounter disruptive community experiences. We see it in community partners
who struggle with the pull of street life and the push of new job and career opportunities. These
disruptions shake people out of their comfort zones. New learning occurs. New horizons and new
paths open up. Some of our partners see those new paths and decide to follow them, something
they had never expected before they came to Food Dignity. They experience profound
The Food Dignity partnership leads and inspires organizational transformation. Leaders of the
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Whole Community Project, for example, have had to address serious organizational and leadership
challenges embedded in the network of long-established organizational relationships in Ithaca.
With the support of the Food Dignity partnership they are slowly and deliberately rebuilding these
relationships to better serve the community. Through their connections in Detroit they are bringing
new ideas and energy to the community.
The Food Dignity partnership leads and inspires institutional transformation. Over the past year a
small team of community and academic partners has presented papers at meetings such as the
Association of American Geographers annual meeting in Los Angeles, the CU Expo 2013 in
Newfoundland; the Association for the Study of Food and Society annual meeting in Lansing, MI,
and the Yale Food Systems Symposium. In each of these meetings the team presents the work of
the partnershipour members, our structure, our research program and our challenges. We
frankly talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the partnership. Frequently we get the
impression that the audiences at these meetings find our approach at least interesting if not novel
and even disruptive. At the Yale meeting a young academic reacted strongly to our approach to the
equitable distribution of power and privilege in our partnership, stating that she couldn’t possibly
do this kind of work and get tenure. Our team responded as gently as possible that we do our work
to serve the community and not with tenure as our first priority. At this same meeting another
more senior academic, well known and well published, stated that she did not expect activists to be
in the audience when one of our team members challenged some of her assertions. We hope that
by sharing our work in these meetings we will slowly but surely influence other institutions to
consider using the methods that we employ in our work. We hope that the students we train today
will lead institutional transformation in the future based on what they learn in our programs.
The Food Dignity partnership hopes someday to lead and inspire change at the societal level. We
cannot yet make that claim. Nevertheless, part of the Food Dignity vision is that someday our
work will inform policy at the national level for allocating resources to support sustainable
community food systems that provide food security and furthermore to support strong, authentic,
collaborative community-campus partnerships.
13. By what process did you decide to apply for the CCPH Annual Award and draft this
Gayle, Hank and Christine each read the announcement for the CCPH Annual Award and they
decided to apply.
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Section 4: Supporting documentation
1. Food Dignity Research Collaboration Standards, May 12, 2011
2. Data use and sharing agreement for a Laramie-based project, a partnership between FLV,
UW and Laramie Gardeners to quantify food harvests from gardenrs.
3. Recent publications and presentations
4. Selected media coverage
5. Feb 2013 abstract for the project funder, USDA/NIFA/AFRI.
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
(1) Food Dignity Research Collaboration Standards, May 12, 2011
Food Dignity: Hopes (and minimums) for collaborative storymaking/case studies
May 12, 2011
The minimum standards below outline a baseline ethic for our work with things like “member
checking,” (which is what academics call asking research participants if their work seems
accurate), sharing results, and coauthoring.
However, they are far short of what we hope for. These standards are necessary but not sufficient
for a new ethic, for dignity to “eventually be the world… a world where all the worlds fit.” We
have five years to build those bridges in the Zapatista marching poem, where “the us that we are
speaks and the other that we are not speaks.”
Rodolfo Corky Gonzales speaks in this small excerpt from his poem, Yo Soy Joaquín:
My fathers have lost the economic battle
and won the struggle of cultural survival.
And now! I must choose between the paradox of
victory of the spirit, despite physical hunger,
or to exist in the grasp of American social neurosis,
sterilization of the soul and a full stomach.
In a world of dignity, no one would ever have to choose.
In a title of one of her essays, Audre Lorde warns us that the master's tools will never dismantle the
master's house. Our hope for Food Dignity is that, together, we will gather and use the tools we
have to contribute, and forge new ones. And we will use these tools not just to dismantle, but to
build an alternative.
Minimum procedures for collaborative storymaking/case studies
Presentations, Publications
If it’s not your story, or not only your story, check your storyline with the key people involved
No journal publications in Food Dignity should have single authors if they are about multiple
projects or if they are by people not part of a project.
Share all final stories disseminated with the key people involved (we also need a central repository
for USDA/AFRI, please send to project administrator at UW)
If disagreement on interpretation cannot be resolved between key stakeholders, both will be
represented, or neither, in final dissemination.
Making Notes
If you take notes at or after a meeting or event, create a version to share and check with the
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
Offer to be a minute-maker if you are going to take notes during a meeting.
Use circulated notes to check things with participants, but filter for content that might cause harm
to individuals or organizations, e.g. maybe include a criticism but perhaps not verbatim, or with
Authorship & Ownership
Projects that provide the data own the data. Once provided to FD team it is jointly owned.
However, individual participants can always retract their data (e.g., interview, comments in focus
group, photos whether photographer or person pictured) from FD.
Per the above, no journal publications in Food Dignity should have single authors if they are about
multiple projects or if they are by people not part of a project.
Research partners will compile data provided by projects and share lists with those partners, and
data copies upon request (excepting when this would breach confidentiality, e.g., an interview
Authorship contributions might oral, visual and/or written. For example, substantial analysis might
be provided in an interview.
Interviews, Focus Groups & other data collected
All content of interviews and focus groups is CONFIDENTIAL!
Check transcriptions (if relevant) or notes from interviews and provisional summary interpretations
with participant(s).
Share other data summaries and analysis (e.g., harvest measures, minigrant results) with
participants in an appropriate format (e.g., two-page summary, presentation, video also part of an
online course).
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
(2) Team GROW (Gardener Researchers of Wyoming)
Data Use and Sharing Agreement
1. INTRODUCTION. Team GROW is a gardening harvest research project designed and
conducted by Laramie gardeners and sponsored by Feeding Laramie Valley (FLV) and the
University of Wyoming (U.W.) Food Dignity (FD) initiative. Research began in the
summer of 2012 with a pilot project consisting of nine Laramie garden plots, tended by
nine Laramie gardeners. After a successful pilot, the full research project is expanded to
include approximately 30 50 garden plots and their associated gardeners during the
summer of 2013. This document proposes how data from the project can be used and
2. PARTICIPANTS. Participants of this project include FLV staff, U.W. FD staff, and all
gardeners who measure their garden plot harvests throughout the course of the 2012 and/or
2013 gardening season(s) and provide their harvest data to the FLV and/or FD staff for
3. DATA. Collected garden plot data include soil testing results, garden plot dimensions,
harvest counts, harvest dates, harvest yields measured by weight of each crop, and harvest
usage. Collected gardener data include years of food gardening experience and interview
data for willing participants. All collected data is entered into an electronic dataset and
maintained by FLV and U.W. FD. Calculated data from the dataset include harvest value
based on timely comparable local produce prices, harvest yield analysis, plot yield analysis,
and harvest use analysis.
4. DATA REPORTING. After the conclusion of the growing and harvesting season, two
types of reports are generated and distributed by FLV and U.W. FD staff - individual plot
reports and an overall report. An individual plot report contains data and analysis for one
particular plot only. The overall report contains data and analysis from the combined data
of all garden plots and identifies garden plots by number only, keeping the name of specific
gardeners confidential.
5. REPORT DISTRIBUTION. An individual plot report is distributed to FLV staff, U.W. FD
staff, and the specific gardener(s) of the individual plot. The overall report is distributed to
all participants of the project.
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
6. REPORT USE AND SHARING. All gardeners are free to use and share their individual
plot report(s) without restriction. All participants are free to use and share the overall
report without restriction.
7. DATASET USE. Use of the dataset is restricted to academic, research, educational,
government, recreational, or other not-for-profit purposes. Individual garden plots are
identified by number only, keeping the names of individual gardeners confidential in all
Do you agree to the Team GROW Data Use and Sharing Agreement?
Yes No
_____________________________________ ____________________________ Date: ______
Signature Printed Name
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
(3) Recent publications and presentations
Food Dignity community partners bolded, academic partners underlined
Peer-reviewed publications (July 2012-November 2013)
Porter, C.M., Herrera, H., Marshall D. & Woodsum, G.M., (forthcoming) “Shared voices,
different worlds: process and product in the Food Dignity action research project.” Gateways:
International Journal of Community Research and Engagement.
Porter, C.M. & Redmond, L. (forthcoming) “Labor and leadership: women in US community food
organizing.” Invited chapter to be published in edited, peer-reviewed volume Off the Edge of the
Table: Women Redefining the Limits of the Food System and the Experience of Food Insecurity,
ed. Janet Page-Reeves. Publication in 2014 by Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing
Bradley, K. and Galt, R.E. (2013) “Practicing food justice at Dig Deep Farms & Produce, East Bay
Area, California: self-determination as a guiding value and intersections with foodie logics.” Local
Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.
Porter, C.M. (2013). “Community action to prevent childhood obesity: Lessons from three US case
studies.” Childhood Obesity. 9(2), 164-174.
Pelletier, D.L., Porter, C.M., Aarons, G.A., Wuehler S.E., and Neufeld, L.M. (2013) “Expanding
the Frontiers of Population Nutrition Research: New Questions, New Methods, and New
Approaches.” Advances in Nutrition. 4, 92-114.
Other publications, including online (July 2012-November 2013)
Armstrong, J.A. (2013) Storying the Foodshed Blog. Online at
Daftary, S. and Mitchell, B. (2013) Storycorps, Barbara Adamson TeAndre Mitchell. Online at
Daftary, S. and Leandry, G. (2013) Storycorps, Gemma Garcia Celeste Leandry. Online at
Arthur, M. and Woosdum, G.M. (2013). National Public Radio Storycorps, Cheyenne, Wyoming.
July 29.
Scott, H & Gregory, M. (2013) Ithaca Garden Harvest Log Blog. Online at
Porter, C.M., Sequeira, E.J. & Woodsum, G.M. (2013) “Who is ‘the public’ in public health and
food systems: examining community food organizing and health collaborations in New York and
in Wyoming.” A report to Kettering Foundation, part 2 of 2.
National presentations (July 2012-November 2013)
Porter, C.M., Peters, S.J. and Woodsum, G.M. “Will work for Food Dignity: striving for equity in
our action research relations.” 90-minute story session at Community-Campus Partnerships for
Health, April 2014. Chicago, IL.
Porter, C.M., Breland-Noble, J., Brown, J. and Thomas L.R. “Establishing an academic agenda for
creating equitable research partnerships.” Roundtable at Community-Campus Partnerships for
Health, April 2014. Chicago, IL
Herrera, H. and Bradley, K. “Decolonizing Food Justice.” Paper presentation at Yale Food
Systems Symposium, October 18-19, 2013. Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Porter, C.M., Herrera, H., Marshall, D., Sequeira, E.J., Sutter, V., Vigil, D., and Woodsum,
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
G.M. “Will work for Food Dignity: A workshop on making research serve food justice.” Panel and
workshop at Yale Food Systems Symposium, October 18-19, 2013. Yale University, New Haven,
Porter, C.M. & Redmond, L. “Labor and leadership: women in US community food organizing.”
Oral presentation at Yale Food Systems Symposium, October 18-19, 2013. Yale University, New
Haven, CT.
Armstrong, J. A. “Utilizing Pedagogies of Discomfort to Confront Supremacism in Community-
Campus Partnerships.” Paper presented at the Association of Humanist Sociology Annual
Conference. October 9-13, 2013. Washington, DC.
Herrera, H. "The Ecology of Food Justice." Presentation at the Association for the Study of Food
and Society. June 19-22, 2013. East Lansing, MI.
Woodsum, G.M., Porter, C.M., Herrera, H., & Marshall D. “Shared Voices, Different Worlds -
Food Dignity research team.” Presentation at CU Expo. June 12-15, 2013. Cornerbrook,
Newfoundland, Canada.
Herrera, H. and Emke, C. “The Struggle for food Dignity.” Community, Local, and Regional
Food System Community of Practice eXtension Webinars series. February 17, 2013. Online at
Bradley, K., Armstrong J., Arthur M., Herrera, H., & Porter, C.M. “Making Academics Work for
Justice-Oriented Food Networks: Graduate Student Experiences in Food Dignity.” Presentation at
Association of American Geographers. April 9-13, 2013. Los Angeles, CA.
Woodsum, G.M., Herrera, H., Sutter, J. & Porter, C.M. “Food Dignity.” Poster at Community
Campus Partnerships for Health community partners meeting. December 7, 2012. Washington,
Porter, C.M., Daftary, S., Herrera, H., Marshall, D., McCrackin, P., Neideffer, M., Sequeira,
E.J., Sutter, V., and Woodsum, G.M. “Food Dignity: Successes and struggles in community
food system action research.” Presentation at the American Public Health Association Annual
meeting. October 20, 2012. San Francisco, CA.
Gregory, M.M., Drinkwater L.E., Peters, S.J., Greig, D., Vigil, D. & Eck, E. “Practicing
agroecology in Brooklyn community gardens: Enhancing ecosystem services and gardener
learning through collaborative inquiry on cover crops.” Presentation at the 97th Annual Meeting
of the Ecological Society of America. August 5-10, 2012. Portland, OR.
Daftary, S. “East New York Farms!” City Bountiful Panel at Greater & Greener International
Urban Parks Conference. New York, NY. July 17, 2012.
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
(4) Sample Recent Media Coverage
Edwards, M. "UW study researches link between health and gardening." Wyoming Public Radio,
Open Spaces, Sept 13th, 2013. Online at:
Newman, E. “‘A brand new door’: UW research project supports community food systems.”
Laramie Boomerang (A1). May 28, 2013. Laramie, WY.
Newman, E. “Project explores plant power.” Laramie Boomerang (A1). June 22, 2011. Laramie,
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
(5) February 2013 project abstract for project funder
Abstract for the AFRI Sustainable Food Systems Project Director Meeting, 2013
Project Title: Food Dignity: Action research on engaging food insecure communities and universities in
building sustainable community food systems
Project Start/End Dates: 4/2011-3/2016
Project contact: Christine M. Porter, University of Wyoming, 307-766-2143,
Project Summary: “The people hold thousands of solutions in their hands,” notes the Via Campesina
declaration on December 9th, 2010. Core research questions in Food Dignity include: who are the people,
what are these solutions, how can we best enable citizens to implement them, and how does the
implementation impact community food systems? We are conducting this action research with 5 community
food system organizations, 2 universities, 1 college and 1 “action-think tank.
Objectives: Our primary objective is to identify, develop and evaluate scalable strategies for organizing
sustainable community food systems (SCFS) for food security (FS). This includes (a) developing and
comparing retrospective and ongoing case studies of SCFS for FS work in 5 communities; (b) testing and
evaluating a SCFS organizing support “package” with each community; and (c) evaluating the SCFS for FS
impact of minigrants, some home and community food gardens, and selected community initiatives as
nested case studies. We also aim to expand capacity to catalyze, support and research SCFS for FS in
cooperative extension, community-based organizations, citizens living in low-income communities, and
universities. One strategy for this includes creating new undergraduate cross-disciplinary minor areas of
study in sustainable food systems at University of Wyoming (UW) and Cornell University (Cornell).
Another is conducting a sixth case study of the Food Dignity project itself.
Results: We are provisionally reporting organizing challenges that include: cash flow issues limiting
community action; staying funded while staying true to mission and vision; community leaders (e.g., some
of the organizers working with Food Dignity) suffering systemic stresses of being subject to demands,
judgment, and criticism from all sides; and developing new leadership (e.g., among people being supported
by this funding) requiring intensive and long-term mentorship from existing leaders. Promising strategies
appear to be setting goals for job creation and economic development, operating on explicit dignity and
pride principles, engaging with youth, and investing financially in citizen solutions to community food
insecurity and unsustainability particularly through minigrants and supporting community-based
researchers. We are also investigating appropriate roles for universities in supporting this community-led
food system and security work. Promising approaches include sharing funding and control over funding
allocations; recruiting (and paying) people who can bridge both worlds to coordinate and train students to
support and learn from local food work; and creating action research teams that include citizens, organizers
and academics to determine research questions, design and pilot methods, and disseminate findings.
Impacts: We aim for impact in a myriad of arenas, institutions, communities, policies and practices that are
relevant to food security. Four examples are below.
(1) Our agroecology research aims to (a) quantify food harvests and other gains from home and community
food gardening and (b) improve harvests through improving weed suppression and soil fertility through
cover cropping. While Food Dignity will likely be working directly with only about 150 gardeners and
urban farmers over the project timeline, the harvest quantification should inform the nature and amount of
public investment in this distributed means of food production and the cover crop research should improve
harvest among any growers who adopt these practices. Anecdotally, the cover cropping appears already to
be spreading among East New York gardeners, beyond those participating in the research. The first year
The Food Dignity Partnership CCPH Annual Award Application, 2014
findings also indicate the practice provides very effective weed suppression and nitrogen improvement in
urban community gardens. The pilot harvest quantification project in the 56-day growing climate of
Laramie, Wyoming indicated that participating home and community gardeners produced 1,265 pounds of
vegetables worth over $4000 on a total of 0.065 acres. This is an average of 0.44 lbs. and a market value of
$1.45 per square foot of garden. The most productive garden yielded 2 lbs. of produce worth $6.69 per sq.
(2) The minigrant research is tracking a total of $150,000 of minigrants to citizens who propose food
security solutions in their communities. This will likely fund about 120 initiatives over three years, in turn
impacting hundreds of others directly. Beyond this group, this research will identify best practices for
awarding and supporting such grants and document the impacts of such programs. For example, a student
working with Food Dignity conducted a small randomized controlled trial with $40 microgrants to home
gardeners; she found that even this tiny amount significantly impacted likelihood of starting and of
expanding food gardens. The lead partner in Wind River Indian Reservation has leveraged the food
production and preservation work of their first group of minigrantees and Food Dignity support for their
new farmers market to build greater and more diverse vendor participation in their very successful second
market year. This has increased food access for patrons, income generation for vendors, and social
networking opportunities on the Reservation. Minigrants are showing promise as a low-cost, participatory,
powerful and empowering way to generate community-led food system change.
(3) The national and international movements for food security and sovereignty long predate this research,
but very little has been done to document and learn from that work beyond sharing within existing networks
of main actors. The five community food organizing case studies aim to understand the who, what, how,
why and so what of that work in the US, including to learn about best practices on “how” to improve the “so
what” for food security and community leadership in creating their own food security.
(4) The “sixth case study” in Food Dignity is of the partnership work itself, including to inform practice in
community-campus relations for both research and community-engaged teaching and learning. We are
experimenting with and documenting approaches we are trying. For example, the Ithaca and Laramie-based
community organizers in the project have already directly reached at least 360 students at Cornell, UW and
Ithaca College through internships and classwork on building sustainable and just community food systems.
Also, the minors being developed at Cornell and UW will be in collaboration with community advisory
boards. In research, one of the community organizers has taken a leadership role with the Community
Campus Partnerships for Health efforts in establishing equitable research collaboration practices and Porter
and other Food Dignity partners have also become involved.
In our 22 months to date, we have shared practices and provisional findings from Food Dignity in 22
presentations and posters at national conferences, one peer-reviewed publication, and many local and
regional events.
The Challenges of Doing Interdisciplinary Work: While not underestimating the difficulties we face in our
interdisciplinary work, these challenges pale in comparison with those of community-campus collaboration
in this action research. For communities facing bullets, food insecurity, and early mortality (e.g., life
expectancy on Wind River Indian Reservation is 49 years), this work is not interdisciplinary, it is life and
death. It is not a 5-year project, it is a life-long commitment. These issues are larger than our project, of
course, but the team has made great strides in meeting the challenges of collaborating productively and we
are learning from and documenting this work in the 6th case study.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
The United States has a food system largely built on the backs of women, enslaved Africans, Native Americans and–most recently–migrant laborers from countries to our South. In other words, the US has never had a healthy and just food system nor a food secure society. Fortunately, tens of thousands of Americans are working to create one that is healthy and just, including building food security for all families and communities. That work, loosely forming the US community food movement, has increasingly–if not sufficiently–tackled undoing racism and classism as inherent to creating a just food system. However, rhetoric and action aimed at undoing sexism in the work, including attending to gross gender disparities in food security, has largely been missing. In this chapter, we aim to add gender to race and class as an anchor for achieving equity and food security through food system change.
Full-text available
Diversity of perspective makes for greater depth when painting a portrait of community life. But embracing the idea of representing true diversity in a formal research project is a whole lot easier than putting it into practice. The three dozen members of the Food Dignity action research team, now entering the fourth year of a five-year project, are intimately familiar with this challenge. In this article, four of the collaborators explore the intricacies of navigating what it means to bring together a genuine cross-section of community-based activists and academics in an effort to draw on one another’s professional and personal strengths to collect and disseminate research findings that represent the truth of a community’s experiences, and are ultimately disseminated in a way that brings tangible benefit to the heart and soul of that community. The authors include Food Dignity’s principal investigator (Porter) and three community organisers (Marshall, Herrera and Woodsum) in organisations that have partnered with Food Dignity. Two of the organisers (Herrera and Woodsum) also serve project-wide roles. These collaborators share their personal and professional hopes, struggles, concerns, successes and failures as participants in this cutting-edge effort to equalise community and university partnerships in research. Keywords: community-based participatory research (CBPR), food justice, equitable community-campus partnerships, food sovereignty, case study, action research
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Introduction: Many communities have been tackling hunger, obesity, equity and other issues by expanding local engagement with and control of food systems. Some initiatives have been working for decades. Recently, health and nutrition academics and practitioners have become focused on learning from and supporting this work. Food Dignity - an action, research and education project - exemplifies such a collaboration ( The coauthors of this paper are members of the Food Dignity team. Methods: This paper examines (a) the practice and potential of community-driven approaches to food security through five case studies of community food system projects located in California, Wyoming and New York; and (b) the struggles and successes of their collaboration with academic research partners in conducting this research. Community partners are each leveraging a funding package for community action research that includes community organizing staffing, steering committees, materials, and a community research budget. Academic partners are collaborating with them to tell stories of their work. Research methods include interviews and narrative inquiry analysis, participation and observation, minigrant tracking, file coding, and Photovoice. Results: Each project is working to build local control over and engagement with the food system. The actions, challenges, strategies and successes of these initiatives and of the research process will be highlighted. Discussion: We close with implications for (a) how such initiatives can and do contribute to community health and (b) how public and community health professionals can play supportive roles in their work.
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This article describes Dig Deep Farms & Produce, a food justice organisation and urban farm working to stimulate local economic development, create jobs, and improve the quality and accessibility of food in Ashland and Cherryland in California's Bay Area. Their practices are based on self-determined values although they take a flexible, anti-essentialist approach to foodie logics, which are prominent and problematic in the Bay Area. The case study then examines specific practices and strategies, as well as intersections with foodie logics, in three arenas – values determination, strategic partnerships, and foodways – that help to cultivate food justice and highlights key characteristics of food justice work: emphasising self-determination and working to fundamentally change the economic and social conditions of food apartheid.
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Nutrition research, ranging from molecular to population levels and all points along this spectrum, is exploring new frontiers as new technologies and societal changes create new possibilities and demands. This paper defines a set of frontiers at the population level that are being created by the increased societal recognition of the importance of nutrition; its connection to urgent health, social, and environmental problems; and the need for effective and sustainable solutions at the population level. The frontiers are defined in terms of why, what, who, and how we study at the population level and the disciplinary foundations for that research. The paper provides illustrations of research along some of these frontiers, an overarching framework for population nutrition research, and access to some of the literature from outside of nutrition that can enhance the intellectual coherence, practical utility, and societal benefit of population nutrition research. The frontiers defined in this paper build on earlier forward-looking efforts by the American Society for Nutrition and extend these efforts in significant ways. The American Society for Nutrition and its members can play pivotal roles in advancing these frontiers by addressing a number of well-recognized challenges associated with transdisciplinary and engaged research.
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Agroecological practices such as cover cropping may address challenges that urban gardeners face (e.g, building soil quality with limited access to organic amendments), thus enhancing the productivity and sustainability of urban agriculture. This presentation will share our experiences in a collaborative inquiry (CI) project with Brooklyn gardeners on cover cropping and inquiry-based gardening education. Agroecological research questions include: How do species composition and management of over-wintering cover crops affect soil cover, biomass, nitrogen fixation, and weed suppression in urban vegetable gardens? and, How do soil properties, light availability, and intercrops influence cover crop performance? In Fall 2011, we under-seeded four cover crop combinations (crimson clover, wheat/clover, hairy vetch, and wheat/vetch) in 100 garden plots, and monitored fall cover crop performance in terms of soil cover, nodulation, and weed suppression. We also explored the value of CI for research and education. Through case studies of two CI groups, we asked: How can CI be organized and facilitated in an urban community gardening context to achieve educational, social, and environmental benefits? Data included facilitator field notes, critical incident questionnaires, narrative interviews, group evaluation sessions, and workshop products (e.g., gardeners’ evaluations of cover crops). Results/Conclusions In contrast to trends found in rural areas, legume monocultures exhibited higher percent cover three weeks after planting than legume-wheat mixtures because plots with wheat seed attracted birds, resulting in seed predation and poor cover crop establishment. In urban environments, it may be necessary to protect cover crop seeds with row cover or mulch. After six weeks, all cover crops provided excellent average soil cover (84 – 92%) and weed suppression (88 – 97% reductions in weeds compared to control plots). Crimson clover provided better soil cover and weed suppression, while more vetch plants developed pink inner nodules, suggesting that vetch may begin nitrogen fixation more quickly. Initial reflections on the CI process show that it may strengthen and contextualize scientific inquiry with local knowledge; provide learning opportunities that build ecological understanding and adaptive management skills; and foster improvements in stewardship practices. Several aspects of CI emerged as important to realizing these benefits, including: engaging citizens in defining goals and research questions; facilitating repeated cycles of reflection and action, informed by monitoring agroecological outcomes of new practices; and a collaborative process in which gardeners meet to reflect on their experiences. Difficulties included fostering sustained engagement, coordinating among participants with differing schedules, and designing accessible record-keeping forms and processes.
Background: A 2005 Institute of Medicine report argues that "prevention of obesity in children and youth is, ultimately, about community," yet the literature lacks empirical research on what communities are doing to prevent childhood obesity. This research helps fill this gap and highlights promising practices. Cases: This research entailed exploratory analysis of three descriptive case studies of community efforts to prevent childhood obesity in the northeastern United States: Shape Up Somerville in Massachusetts, MA (urban), Whole Community Project in New York, NY (semiurban), and Eat Well Play Hard Chemung in NY (semirural). Data included stakeholder interviews (n=23), participant observation (n ≥ 7 events and meetings/case), and document analysis (n≈100/case) from project inceptions until March, 2010. Meeting participation was tracked. Data were coded for actions and strategies. Actions were mapped to an adapted version of the ANalysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity (ANGELO) framework. Discussion: These three projects were successful in changing physical environments for food and activity through program and event offerings. The projects were less active in generating policy and economic change. The scale and scope of actions related to project longevity. Demographics of key project stakeholders may have hinged on individual and institutional identities of project facilitators and on intentionality of inclusion strategies. Conclusion: Such projects could likely generate greater scope and scale of environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity if funding agencies provided long-term financial support and technical assistance, even if at lower levels. Diversity of participation would also benefit from stable support and from dispersal of decision-making powers, including through distributed funding.
Storying the Foodshed Blog
  • J A Armstrong
  • B Mitchell
Armstrong, J.A. (2013) Storying the Foodshed Blog. Online at Daftary, S. and Mitchell, B. (2013) Storycorps, Barbara Adamson TeAndre Mitchell. Online at
Ithaca Garden Harvest Log BlogWho is 'the public' in public health and food systems: examining community food organizing and health collaborations in New York and in Wyoming
  • H Scott
  • M Gregory
  • C M Porter
  • E J Sequeira
  • G M Woodsum
Scott, H & Gregory, M. (2013) Ithaca Garden Harvest Log Blog. Online at Porter, C.M., Sequeira, E.J. & Woodsum, G.M. (2013) "Who is 'the public' in public health and food systems: examining community food organizing and health collaborations in New York and in Wyoming." A report to Kettering Foundation, part 2 of 2. National presentations (July 2012-November 2013)