The emerging need to address sustainable food production, distribution, access, and consumption has captured the attention and concerns of researchers, advocates, and decision makers both locally and internationally. Arizona State University (ASU), by virtue of its collective expertise and deliberate solutions-oriented design, is uniquely positioned to convene interested parties and launch relevant research addressing the problems and potential solutions to the myriad food system issues in these realms. The Food Systems Transformation Initiative (FSTI) comprises a variety of programs and projects aligned towards strategic engagement within the food system.
In partnership with UCP SARnet, FSTI held a highly interactive 2.5 day workshop to facilitate discussions centering on two broad themes of food system sustainability: youth engagement and entrepreneurship/innovation. The workshop, considered a major success by planners and the 67 participants alike, highlighted a number of subthemes, including: youth engagement best practices (farmers of the future), capacity building and partnerships (sustainability is not achieved in isolation), institutions and value chains (support systems and ethics for FS sustainability), tools and innovations (the delivery of efficiencies and other benefits for resilience), and entrepreneurship (new models of production, distribution, and healthy food access). The workshop sessions as well as field trips resulted in the engagement of members of FSTI and UCP SARnet in conversations beyond their respective spheres of action, and exchange of ideas about best practices from local to global scales. Outcomes included the development of ideas for joint proposals, curriculum development for youth training in food systems, new strategic partnerships and engagement between FSTI, UCP SARnet, our students and the community.
Most relevantly for UCP SARnet members, there was considerable excitement among participants to use the EmPeace LABS format for a follow‐up workshop on youth leadership and entrepreneurship training in partnership with Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) and Jain Irrigation Systems Limited. Planning is now underway to conduct an EmPeace LABS workshop in Dakar, Senegal, October 28-30, 2015 (in conjunction with the GYIN biannual summit). A long-term vision of establishing an international center for next generation youth training in sustainable agriculture was also discussed.
Sustainable Urban Agriculture at Arizona State University Research Park.