Category Archives: News

Food Lab team member to speak at Climate Solutions Summit

UB Food Lab team member Nathaniel Mich will be speaking on a panel at the Climate Solutions Summit with a focus on the Genesee-Finger Lakes region. The Summit will focus on climate solutions, and will build skills in climate action, advocacy, organizing and leadership. The Summit will feature regional projects/programs/initiatives, barriers and challenges to achieving short and long-term progress, co-benefits, including workforce dev, and opportunities for advocacy and public engagement. At the summit, Nathaniel Mich will share his perspective on “the role of planning and policy in building equitable, healthful and sustainable food systems and healthy communities.”  The panel will be held on April 23, 2022 at 10:30 am via Zoom.

Attendees must register here. 

Making Food Work Visible on International Women’s Day

The world would be better off if there was no need for International Women’s Day. Inequity tied to structural factors fuels gender-related disparities in all walks of life (including in the world of research where our lab of researchers of women of color is a rarity). Consider the following examples from the world of food systems. Women farmworkers execute the bulk of manual work — such as weeding and harvesting — in fields but do not accrue commensurate financial benefits from the sale of products. Small-scale farm households headed by women earn 30% less, on average, than farm households headed by men. In India, women comprise 42% of the agricultural workforce but own only 2% of the land. In the US, half of the graduates of culinary schools are women, yet fewer than 20% are chefs. A greater proportion of women are likely to be farmworkers or food service workers than owners of farms or food businesses, and, therefore, have limited power and material resources within the food system. Within homes, women’s food-related work (of buying and preparing food, and feeding people) remains invisible. The examples are one too many.
We hope that our readers go beyond celebrating the individual successes of women to paying attention to structural questions. Why do gendered disparities continue to exist (in the food system)? Why is there a glass ceiling in the first place? What structural and policy changes are needed at all levels of governance to eliminate gender-related disparities, especially for women from marginalized groups? What would it take for city governments across the United States to conduct an audit of their policies, programs, and budgets to discern if municipal work is truly supporting women in their jurisdictions? Sure, celebrate International Women’s Day — but also act to eliminate gender-related inequities in the food system
Authors: UB Food Lab [Women of Color] Researchers including Insha Akram, Carol E Ramos Gerena, Lorna Georges, Rachel Grandits, Shireen Guru, Samina Raja, Rose Thomas, and Atqa Qadri.
Notes.1. Data sources: Available upon request.2. Photo: Women researchers of the UB Food Lab (Yes, our skills at research don’t necessarily translate well to making a fist).

Who’s behind the research?

Food and health inequities are complex problems that cannot be addressed by a single discipline or a single individual. Our action research is made possible because of the collaborative intellect, energy, and leadership of seasoned and early career researchers from a host of disciplines. Today we introduce you to some of the lab crew students and fellows working! 

Our spring 2022 team includes William Gonzales (history, undergraduate) , Lorna Gorges (environmental design, undergraduate student),Rachel Grandits (sustainability, graduate student), Shireen Guru (research fellow), Eric Hughes (geographic information science, graduate student), Zachary Korosh (urban planning, graduate student), Nathaniel Mich (urban planning, graduate student), Carol Ramos Gerena (urban planning, doctoral student), Rose Thomas (public health, graduate student), Atqa Qadri (artificial intelligence, graduate student). Students in the picture are joined by professors Drs. Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah (Co-Principal Investigator) and Samina Raja (Principal Investigator) who guide the research with other faculty and community partners (not in the photo). 

Seeding East Buffalo Fellowship Application

Residents in East Buffalo have an exciting opportunity to join the Seeding East Buffalo Fellowship Program! Selected fellows will train with an experienced East Buffalo grower to learn how to grow their own food. Fellows will also receive a $350 grant award for growing supplies including soil, seedlings, and materials. By the end of the program, fellows will have the knowledge they need to grow food at home, to help their neighbors with gardening, and to advocate for a better East Buffalo!

DEADLINE The deadline to apply is April 18, 5:00 PM EST and fellowship winners will be announced in May, 2022.

WHEN WILL THE PROGRAM START AND WHAT WILL FELLOWS DO? The Seeding East Buffalo program will begin in May 2022. Fellows will learn about a variety of topics with experienced growers and community leaders. Fellows will learn about Black farmers/grower’s relationship to land, agriculture and food systems, and agriculture practices for sustainable soils, and the local growing season. Fellows will receive hands-on training focused on growing food from seeds and seedlings, seed saving, organic pesticide management, and harvesting. Fellows will also have the opportunity to learn how to shape policy to better serve communities. Fellows will train weekly on a farm in East Buffalo during the 2022 growing season (additionally, a welcome workshop and a graduation celebration will be held at an off-farm site). Most activity will happen on the weekends.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE? Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and reside in one of these Buffalo neighborhoods: Masten Park, Fruit Belt, Pratt-Willert, Broadway Fillmore, MLK Park, Delavan Grider, Kensington-Bailey. No gardening experience is required!

WHO IS BEHIND THE PROGRAM? The fellowship program is supported by a coalition of community leaders and researchers as part of the Growing Food Policy from the Ground Up Project (GFPGU). The urban farmers leading the training are from Urban Fruits & Veggies (UFV). UFV is proud of the high quality of the produce they provide to the community. Only the best seeds, soil and organic fertilizers are used when planting healthy crops. ​Their management team are certified in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and have a focus on food safety and providing quality products grown with the best non-treated seeds, quality soil and no chemical pesticides! UFV is certified as a Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE). Read about UFV at: For more information, contact Urban Fruits & Veggies, CEO, Allison DeHonney by email at or by phone at 716-829-3782.

Partners behind this effort include Appetite for Change, Food for the Spirit/Buffalo Food Equity Network, Freedom Gardens, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Avenue Project, University at Buffalo Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, University of Minnesota, and Urban Fruits & Veggies LLC. Funding for this effort is made possible in part by the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR). You can read more about the overall effort at:

Please begin your application!

Food Lab researchers release major U.N. report on food systems planning

Researchers from the University at Buffalo Food Lab were the driving force behind the publication today of a major report that details strategies local governments in low- and middle-income countries can use to create more innovative and equitable community food systems.

The 164-page report — titled “Local government planning for community food systems” — was published in early February 2021 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a United Nations agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.

Cover of a major report published by the United Nations in February that was written by UB researchers.

“To my knowledge, this is one of the earliest documents outlining how local governments can take action to create innovative and equitable food systems in low- and middle-income countries,” said Samina Raja, PhD, director of the UB Food Lab, who shepherded the initiative.

The report was co-produced by researchers and community partners in the case study countries, along with authors Raja, Erin Sweeney, Yeeli Mui and Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah of UB’s Community for Global Health Equity and the Food Lab. It includes contributions from 10 students and six community partners from Ghana, Jamaica, and India.

Sweeney coordinated the work in Odisha (India), while Mui led in Kerala, India, and Frimpong Boamah in Ghana. Mui was a postdoc at UB when the project started and is now an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

UB researchers were the driving force behind this report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

A food system is the rich and complex web through which a community gets its food.

Despite major developments, local governments in low- and middle-income countries continue to face significant challenges in integrating food security, nutrition and sustainable food systems in their agenda, FAO directors Anna Lartey and Vimlendra Sharan note in the foreword to the report.

“This publication invites us to rethink food systems and supply chains through the lens of a ‘community,’ as a reminder that people and their everyday practices and relationships with food are central to the design of these processes,” they write.

The report comprises six sections featuring contributions from UB and other global food systems researchers. Topics covered include describing the many ways in which local governments influence a community’s food system, an overview of the field of food systems planning, examples of local government policies from across the globe, and case studies from a number of low- and middle-income countries where food systems present an opportunity for equitable innovation.

“In its conclusion, the report reinforces the critical role of community food systems for broader social transformation in cities and regions,” says Raja, who also serves as co-director of UB’s Community for Global Health Equity.

The report is unique in that it is centered around the experiences of smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries. These farmers are responsible for growing food for the world and yet they are often the most food insecure, Raja points out.

“It is with this premise that we went about this work,” she says, adding that the team interviewed smallholder farmers in Ghana, India and Jamaica. “It became certain that it is impossible to prepare plans and policies without understanding the successes, challenges and adaptations made by smallholder farmers to do their job and survive. They feed the world, they fight climate change, they protect our ecologies — smallholder farmers are truly on the ‘frontline.’”

Raja says local governments have the ability and a responsibility to collaborate with stakeholders to harness and amplify the opportunities available within their jurisdiction to develop more innovative and equitable community food systems.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to food systems planning,” she says. “Each community’s opportunities and challenges are unique. Building community trust, designing inclusive planning processes, and conducting contextually scoped community food system assessments that center smallholder farmers’ experiences are key to planning, strengthening, and leveraging food systems for community well-being in low- and middle-income countries.”

The report was the result of a collaboration between FAO and UB, which have partnered to build the capacity of local governments to engage in food systems planning. UB began work with partners at FAO in 2016 with an expert summit focused on drawing attention to food in the New Urban Agenda, an initiative of the U.N. that aims for a better quality of life in the urbanizing world.

With support from FAO, researchers at the UB Food Lab are conducting transdisciplinary research in Ghana, India and Jamaica to document opportunities and challenges in planning for food systems, especially from the perspective of smallholder farmers.

“UB’s Community for Global Health Equity, which supports UB Food Lab’s global work, is committed to supporting those who most influence global food equity – leaders, organizations and policymakers who can affect systemic change,” said Venu Govindaraju, PhD, UB vice president for research and economic development.

“The FAO-UB partnership accelerates our faculty’s ability to translate their research in the domain of community food systems into policy and action,” Govindaraju added.

Buffalo Resource Alert: COVID-19

From Buffalo Food Equity  Network + Soul Fire Farm, Announced March 20, 2020

Ask a Sista Farmer
Are you ready to grow your own food and medicine for self-reliance and community resilience? Every Friday, experienced Black womxn* farmers answer your call-in questions about gardening, livestock, agroforestry, plant medicine, and food preservation. 

Fridays, 4:00-4:40 Eastern**
On Zoom @ or 646-876-9923 Meeting ID: 803 350 514
On Facebook Live @
Event Page:

Rotating Hosts
Leah Penniman, Soul Fire Farm
Germaine Jenkins, Fresh Future Farm
Raven A. Blake, Love Fed New Haven
Keisha Cameron, High Hog Farm

This show centers the voices of Black, Indigenous, People-of-Color, Queer, Trans*, Disabled, Immigrant, and Poor communities. Everyone is welcome to listen, but please make space for centered folks to speak. Thank you. 

To free ourselves we must feed ourselves!
*Sista and womxn includes trans* and nonbinary folks
**March 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1 and we will see what’s needed after that!
***Event is FREE but please consider donating to a BIPOC farmer near you as an act of solidarity

Food systems planning experts say it’s time to reflect on local governments’ efforts

BUFFALO, N.Y. — On Wednesday, October 18, 2018, the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, the world’s only peer-reviewed journal focused specifically on food and farming-related community development, released a special issue on local government engagement in food systems planning.

The special issue was co-edited by Samina Raja, professor of urban and regional planning in the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, along with Jill Clark, associate professor in The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs; Kimberly Hodgson, founder and principal consultant of Cultivating Healthy Places; and Julia Freedgood, assistant vice president of programs for the American Farmland Trust.

The special issue was sponsored by Growing Food Connections, a national initiative that engages in research, education, and policy to strengthen community food systems. The 11 manuscripts in the issue were selected for publication following an open call for submissions developed by the guest editors, in partnership with the journal.

Collectively, the articles in this special issue illustrate new frontiers in, and challenges to, the governance of food systems by:

  • analyzing how local government policies and plans are being developed to strengthen food systems;
  • probing the progress and obstacles in implementing policies;
  • analyzing how local governments are monitoring and evaluating their policies.

The experiences of several local governments are represented, including those from multiple communities in California; Buffalo and New York City, New York; Cass County, North Dakota; Clay County and Minneapolis, Minnesota; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Seattle, Washington. Also included are multiple municipalities in British Columbia, as well as Toronto, Ontario.

The journal is open access, which will allow governments and policymakers from around the world to learn from other communities’ successes and failures. That’s key, says Ohio State’s Clark.

“We are excited to work with JAFSCD on this special issue. Many of our authors, and all of the editors, are community-based researchers. Therefore, it is critical that the local governments and partners presented here, in addition to communities across the globe, have free access to these research articles,” she said.

To access the full special issue, please visit:

Portions of this article were quoted from David J. Hill, News Content Manager at the University at Buffalo News Center.  To read his full article on the JAFSCD special issue, please visit:


Opportunity Alert for Doctoral Students

Research Praxis for Food System Transformation: A Summer School

Are you a researcher focusing on Agroecology or food sovereignty? Do you work with social movements or want to in the future? Do you use participatory, transdisciplinary and activist approaches to research? Do you want to work with others to transform the food system? Are you thinking through how your research praxis fits into a theory of transformative change?

Coventry University and Uvic-UCC are organizing a summer school on Agroecology and Food Sovereignty 60 km north of Barcelona. The main objective of this summer school is to create a space to bring together activist researchers around the world who want to exchange, learn and advance their work as a “community of praxis”.

Please fill out this form by December 7 to express your interest and give your input.

While there will be some material presented as provocations for discussion, the school will be primarily based on the principles of critical pedagogy, participation and popular education methodologies. Using dialogue, mutual exchange, feminist participatory methodologies, theatre, amongst other horizontal approaches, we will organize spaces for sharing ideas and research, unpacking problems in research, and to explore together the collective experiences, uncertainties, hopes and dreams of the group.

We want to take wider input into consideration as we construct the summer school.  Thus, we are asking for your input, especially from those interested in participating, to share topics, approaches and ideas for the summer school. We have crafted a questionnaire for you to send us your thoughts

Some details:

  • The summer school will be residential, hosted by an intentional community with basic accommodations and spaces for collective eating, cooking and learning with opportunities to engage with local Agroecology and food sovereignty initiatives.
  • We plan to hold the summer school sometime in June or early July 2018 and it will likely be 6 days/5 nights in duration.
  • An approximate price will be 700-1400 EUR which includes the costs of coordinating the summer school, renting space, interpretation, all meals during the residential, ground transportation for local field trips, materials and overnight accommodations for all nights. This does not include the cost of your travel to and from the site of the summer school.
  • We currently have no funding for running the summer school. We are budgeting to break even. We have some ideas for funding and if successful, the costs may be lowered. We may offer bursaries if we can find funding.
  • There will be Spanish-English interpretation, however unfortunately we do not have funding to cover the costs of other languages at this point.
  • There is a cap of 20 participants.
  • The emphasis is on PhD students, who will have priority, however we welcome inquiries from other researchers and activists.
  • We hope to run this summer school yearly
  • We hope that participants in the school will stay connected in the “community of praxis” via the peoples knowledge platform: peoplesknowledge.org

The summer school team (Rosa Binimelis Adell, Colin Anderson, Marta Rivera-Ferre, Michel Pimbert, Chris Maughan)

Co-organised by:

The Chair Agroecology and Food Systems for Social Transformation (Uvic-UCC)

The Center of Agroecology, Water and Resilience (Coventry University);

Fill out this form to express your interest:

Samina Raja to Keynote It Takes a Region Conference 2017

Reposted from

NESAWG’s annual It Takes a Region Conference brings together farm and food systems practitioners across the 12-state Northeast region to learn, debate, collaborate, and innovate solutions to critical food systems issues. Each year, the conference looks at the trajectory of the food and farm movement and the role this network can play in shaping its future. The conference offers in-depth working sessions that tackle important questions about the regional food system and how to strengthen it, drawing from the collective expertise and wisdom of conference attendees.

This year, the conference is in Baltimore, MD from November 9-11, with Dr. Samina Raja giving the keynote address. Dr. Samina Raja is a global leader in food systems planning. Her research and leadership has empowered not only communities of color in her hometown of Buffalo, NY, but throughout the U.S. and global south. She is the founder of the Food Lab at University of Buffalo, supporting food systems researchers in service of vulnerable communities and Growing Food Connections, a national network of food system planners. She is a native of Kashmir, India and is a Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Buffalo.

Food systems planning may be a nascent field, but it’s of crucial importance for scaling sustainable agriculture and improving food access and economic opportunity in communities of color. While there are many academic, nonprofit, and government organizations devoted to studying the food system, very few partner with low-income and communities of color to create lasting change. Samina Raja’s innovative work provides a welcome blueprint for researchers who seek such partnerships, however unlikely they may appear at first glance.

In her keynote, Dr. Raja will weave the themes of her work with this year’s conference theme, Humanizing the Food System. To learn more and register for the conference, visit the conference webpages.


Samina Raja To Give Talk as Part of Georgia Institute of Technology’s Planning Lecture Series

Georgia Tech Center for Urban Innovation is hosting a series of Planning lectures throughout the Fall of 2017. On November 3, 2017 from 2pm to 3pm Dr. Samina Raja will be giving a talk titled “Planning As If People Eat: Creating Equitable and Healthy Communities.”

View the talk here.

Georgia Tech Center for Urban Innovation Planning Series: Fall 2017

Vanu Thakuriah – Urban Informatics: Examples, Prospects and Challenges

October 20, 2017, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm at Georgia Tech College of Business, Room 222

Samina Raja – Food Systems and Health

November 3, 2017, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm at TBA

Ed Feser – The U.S. University: Opportunities and Challenges

December 1, 2017, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm at Georgia Tech College of Business, Room 222

Vanessa Watson – Planning In and For Cities of the Global South

December 8, 2017, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm at Georgia Tech Architecture Easy, Room 123