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Master of Regional Planning (M.R.P.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
Food system, Food security, Community organization, Assessment, Regional Planning
Comprehensive planning for regional food systems is a relatively new focus in the planning field. Heightened national awareness of the economic, environmental and equity implications of our current food system has magnified the importance of planning engagement on food-system issues. While addressing food system concepts is relatively new to planners, community-based organizations have been historic players in the development of food-system programs and critical food-system policy, particularly with regard to food access and local food production. This thesis reviews the status of the regional food system in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts through an assessment of the efforts of food-related community-based organizations working in the region. The data results provide a knowledge platform for the regional planning agency that supports collaboration with community-based organizations, builds upon current assets and opportunities for improvement, and facilitates strategies to address food-system barriers, in order to develop and sustain a viable food system for the Pioneer Valley region. This research intends to support two central conceptual objectives: first, providing evidence to support the key role of planning practice in food-system efforts; and second, highlighting the importance of planning and community-organization collaborations to achieve greater systemic impact. Finally, this research aims to expand available information regarding the role of collaborative planning and community organization partnerships in the food-system change process, so as to highlight assets and strengthen the integration of efforts towards building comprehensive and sustainable regional food system networks.