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Pioneering Farm to School

May 1, 2023

By: Jocelyn Moguin, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

Garfield Elementary School, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is pioneering the Farm to School movement through science, nourishment, leadership, sustainability, collaboration, and social and emotional aspects.

In December of 2022, Arizona State University Sustainable Food Systems Graduate Students had the opportunity to explore integral parts in food systems through a weeklong immersive experience across the state. Of these places, Garfield’s Garden on the Corner at Garfield Elementary School was a truly inspiring stop.

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Returning to Our Roots at Hayden Flour Mills

April 20, 2023

 By: Tim Sullivan, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

Our ASU graduate cohort arrived at Hayden Flour Mills, our last stop of the second day on our Arizona food and farm immersion, as the sun was gently moving downwards towards the western horizon. It was peacefully quiet while we soaked in the ambiance and awaited our tour.

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Searching for Pests with USDA

April 12, 2023

By: Brock LaChapelle, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

This past fall, the ASU Sustainable Food Systems cohort visited the APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine facility in Yuma, Arizona.  APHIS is an agency within the United States Department of Agriculture that oversees and initiates response pertaining to animal health, animal welfare and plant health. Additionally, they ensure that U.S. agricultural and food products meet the importing countries' criteria for entering their territories. APHIS is divided into various operations including Animal Care, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, International Services, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Veterinary Services, and Wildlife Services.

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A Look Beyond Olives as Oil

April 6, 2023

By: Jacob DeFant, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

In early December of 2022, two dozen students from the new Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership cohort piled out of large Suburban’s, peeling off their extra layers from the early morning as they adjusted to the warm, sunny, and welcoming weather of central Arizona. The students had just arrived at Queen Creek Olive Mill for their next stop during their weeklong course focused on immersing students in the agriculture industry of Arizona. Tired from long days of traveling, the students stretched and readied themselves for another deep dive into Arizona food systems. The students did not expect the unique perspective Queen Creek Olive Mill had to offer on its unique participation in Arizona agriculture.

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A Journey to a More Sustainable Kitchen with Atlasta Catering

March 20, 2023

By: Chelsea Radford, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

Have you ever worked in a restaurant and noticed the amount of waste produced daily? The endless cycle of taking bag after bag of trash to a dumpster at the end of each night? Well, Steve Short noticed and decided he could do something about it. In December of 2022, the Sustainable Food Systems master’s students at ASU were lucky enough to taste Atlasta’s delicious creations when they catered an event during the Food and Farm Immersion course in Arizona.

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Organic Farming in Arizona: A Family Business That Works for the Community

March 13, 2023

By: Sarah Williams, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

Nestled in between Buckeye and Goodyear, Arizona, is a 1,200-acre certified organic farm specializing in leafy greens and compost. This farm started in Arizona over 30 years ago with Arnott and Kathleen Duncan at the helm. Arnott, a 4th generation farmer, started Duncan Family Farms on just a few hundred acres of land, and has since grown it into a multi-state operation with the mission to responsibly manage and maintain the land.

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Collaboration is Key to Preserving Arizona Water Supply

February 28, 2023

By: Kaysey England, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

Throughout the Sustainable Food Systems graduate program food and farm immersive opportunity in the Fall of 2022, an overwhelming topic was discussed at every stop along the way: water security. During this experience, our cohort got the opportunity to listen to Dr. Dave White share his knowledge about the Arizona water supply. With over 20 years at Arizona State University, he currently serves as the Director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation. Dr. White shared his belief that water is the lifeblood of the American West and is the foundation of all social, environmental, economic, and cultural amenities. He is right; with a rapidly growing Arizona population, time is of the essence to ensure a sustainable water supply is protected and used efficiently.

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The Life of a Grass Farmer and Cattle Rancher in Arizona

February 20, 2023

By: Amy Mattias, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

When Chuck Backus first arrived at his newly acquired ranch in the Superstition Mountains in 1977, the land wasn’t anywhere close to what it is today. Driving out to Quarter Circle U Ranch is driving through a beautiful Arizona desert with cacti and mesquite lining the roads to a backdrop of craggily cliffs. After miles of windy dirt roads, we crossed a cattle guard and the landscape subtly shifts to an undiscerning eye, like most of us in the cohort coming out from ASU’s Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. To more discerning eyes, like Chuck, his daughter Amy, and their ranch manager, Jordan, the change is profound. Over the last 50 years, Quarter Circle U has been managed in a way that heals abused land, allowing more grasses to grow, more birds to soar, and more native plants to flourish despite the lessening supply of precipitation.

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Arizona Food Bank Network Addresses Food Security While Supporting Local Farmers

February 17, 2023

By: Kaley Necessary, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

Note: Angie Rodgers has now transitioned into a position with the Arizona Dept. of Economic Security, and is no longer CEO of AzFBN. The team at AzFBN is eternally grateful for her leadership and is incredibly excited for the continued support of its Friends of the Farm Program through the recently allocated Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA).

As part of a week-long Arizona Food and Farm Immersive Course, my fellow ASU Sustainable Food Systems classmates and I heard from various speakers representing different components of Arizona’s local food system. Joined by ASU Swette Center faculty and staff, one evening, my cohort gathered for a reception and heard from Arizona Food Bank Network’s (AzFBN) President and Chief Executive Officer, Angie Rodgers.

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What Are You Doing to Be the Ancestor You Want to Be?

February 15, 2023

By: Leanne Kami, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

“What are you doing to be the ancestor you want to be?” Upon arriving at Spaces of Opportunity in South Phoenix, Arizona, that question greeted us, scribbled on a chalkboard under a farmers market tent.  In early December of 2022, our ASU Sustainable Food Systems Cohort visited Spaces of Opportunity as part of our Arizona Farm Immersive course.  As we assembled for introductions, other signs like “Climate Justice Now” and “Inmigrantes somos Essentiales,” which translates to “Immigrants are essential,” caught our attention and shook us out of our mid-afternoon brain fog.  

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Growing Vegetables in the Desert

January 30, 2023

By: Kelly Sheridan, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

Did you know that 90% of leafy greens (i.e., lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.) produced/consumed during winter in the US and Canada are grown in Yuma, Arizona[1]? That means the odds that you have consumed lettuce from Desert Premium Farms are very high!

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Industry Disruptor Working to Solve Hunger for 1.1 Billion People

January 25, 2023

By: Mauricio Cordova Flores, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student. 

OnePointOne vertical farm start-up focuses on the power of plants that can help address food insecurity worldwide. When brothers Sam and John Bertram learned that 1.1 billion people began this millennium suffering from food insecurity, they started on a journey to create technology that can help address this world problem; that is when together they decided to start OnePointOne.

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Farmer-Driven Conservation in the Heart of Yuma, Arizona

January 17, 2023

By: Elizabeth Reilly, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

It’s said that there are “five C’s” that power Arizona: climate, copper, cotton, cattle, and citrus. Mark Kuechel, owner and operator of Kuechel Farms, comes from a long line – four generations, in fact – of experts in one of these C’s: citrus. But, after spending the afternoon with Mr. Kuechel, it’s clear another C could be added to the list: conservation.

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A Glimpse into Arizona Dairy at Kerr Family Farms

January 10, 2023

By: Connor Kaeb, ASU Sustainable Food Systems graduate student.

The 2022 cohort of Sustainable Food Systems graduate students from Arizona State University got the opportunity to get a first-hand glimpse of the Arizona dairy industry with a visit to Kerr Family Farms in Buckeye, Arizona. During the visit, students met with Wes Kerr, a fourth-generation dairy farmer.

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Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership 2022/2023 Cohort

September 1, 2022

We are thrilled to introduce Arizona State University’s Food Policy & Sustainability Leadership 2022-2023 class. This is our fourth cohort of students for this graduate program and every year it continues to grow. With a commitment to shaping food and farm policy in the public interest, this cohort of leaders hail from across the country including Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Washington D.C., Washington state, and Wisconsin.

To create the inclusive, diverse and resilient food systems of the future, we need bold and knowledgeable change agents to transform public policy. These rising stars represent business, nonprofit, and academia, modeling the community necessary for food system transformation. They’re passionate about reducing food waste, regenerative and organic agriculture, and local food systems. They’re dedicated to school food reform, racial equity, and food sovereignty.

They are the future of food.

Meet the Leaders:

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Deputy Secretary of USDA: A Leader for Today and the Future

August 22, 2022

By: Allison Perkins, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

It was an honor for our graduate cohort to meet with Deputy Secretary of USDA, Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, during our DC Immersive trip. As a graduate student of Sustainable Food Systems, I was inspired by Dr. Bronaugh’s intersectional work which I can learn from to enhance impact across my academic, professional, and personal life. Deputy Secretary Bronaugh spoke as both a leader and compassionate individual aligned with our cohort’s mission to drive sustainable food systems. Bronaugh created space for an open dialogue to discuss our backgrounds and experiences as we learned from her wealth of knowledge in agricultural policy. The meeting was unique, and it was quickly evident that being Deputy Secretary of USDA is not just a job for Dr. Bronaugh but a role she takes responsibility for and accomplishes with grace.

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USAID Feed the Future: More Important than Ever

August 15, 2022

By: Deborah Sadler, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

On Tuesday, May 10th, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Chief Scientist for Resilience and Food Security, Dr. Rob Bertram, came to the ASU campus in Washington D.C., where I had the privilege of being amongst the Sustainable Food Systems graduate students to hear him speak. He explained the history and work of the Feed the Future program, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and the challenges that lie ahead in combating global hunger. Dr. Bertram has worked with USAID for over twenty years, where he draws on his expertise in plant genetics and his international experience to find scientific solutions to hunger and malnutrition.

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Industry Perspectives on Influencing the Food System

August 10, 2022

By: Keith Arnold, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

Before my visit to our nation’s capital for our food policy course, my opinion regarding lobbyists, admittedly from an uninformed perspective, was of someone paid to push their company’s product or issue ahead of others. I didn’t know what it took to have a voice on Capitol Hill that carried weight to influence real change. However, this DC immersive trip was richly informative as our guest speakers were full of perspective, insight, rigor, intelligence, drive, and personality. Getting an industry insider perspective on discussions with policymakers was eye-opening. We were all thankful for their time and their invitation to join the cause to pursue change in the food system.

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Talking Nutrition with Kumar Chandran, USDA Senior Advisor

August 7, 2022

By Abigail Martone-Richards, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

During our cohort’s DC immersive program, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Kumar Chandran, a USDA Senior Advisor focusing on nutrition under Secretary Vilsack. This isn’t Mr. Chandran’s first foray at USDA; he previously served as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the Obama Administration. Just prior to his most recent position, however, he served as Policy Director for the national nonprofit, FoodCorps. Chandran’s current appointment to USDA is significant for a number of reasons including President Biden’s (and Secretary Vilsack’s) commitment to a more diverse government. But it is really Chandran’s expertise in food policy that is so vital to the department, especially after it had endured four years of unique challenges and setbacks under the Trump administration.

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The Grit, Determination, and Plans of Janie Hipp

August 4, 2022

By: Eleanor Ross, ASU Food Systems graduate student.

They say never meet your heroes, but that is only because they haven’t had the pleasure of speaking with Janie Hipp. One of the biggest highlights of our DC Immersive trip was sitting down with the General Counsel for the USDA. A hugely important and impressive role, the General Counsel is tasked with legal services and oversight across the USDA mission and programs. While the gravitas of this position can be intimidating, our time with Janie Hipp was filled with honesty, humor, and passion.

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