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Urban Food Systems

Our pioneering Urban Food Systems research helps scientists, farmers and policymakers design equitable urban food systems that promote wellness and urban resilience.

Program Contact

Dr. John Reich

Development Contact

Lauren Herhey

Our research focuses on:

  • Economically viable production systems
  • Production practices in and across food and social networks
  • Systems-level solutions to food and nutritional insecurity
  • Urban resource management

Learn more about our Urban Food Systems research goals.

Advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals

Urban Food Systems supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 17 global goals to enhance peace and prosperity, eradicate poverty and protect the environment. Specifically, this research bolsters the following SDGs:

Why Are We Tackling Urban Food Systems Challenges?

Urban food systems can promote community health, but they are affected by many factors. For example, social inequalities, inefficient supply chains, expensive real estate and city zoning requirements all contribute to food insecurity, food waste and constraints on urban growers. Climate change also stresses urban food systems by disrupting social and economic resources.

The solution is developing thriving urban food systems.

Technological and policy breakthroughs help agriculture adapt to urban environments and minimize pollution. These developments can also make healthy food physically and economically accessible to urban populations. Strong regional food and agriculture economies provide growth opportunities, securing farmers’ futures.

We work with and within urban communities to understand how systems – including the regional food system, transportation, housing and others – can promote food and nutritional security. This rigorous research portfolio brings together growers, suppliers and consumers to build healthy, sustainable urban food and agriculture systems.

We Pioneer Urban Food Systems Research

We match every federal dollar with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. This funding supports bold, collaborative grants that fill critical knowledge gaps and propel actionable science.

Our audacious work advances the food and agriculture systems in cities of all types, developing new urban farming systems and helping crops thrive in urban environments. Our projects provide a healthier quality of life for urban communities and their residents.

Learn more about our Urban Food Systems grants, programs and consortium.

Urban Food System Awarded Grants

FFAR Grant Develops Premium Strawberry Flavors for Indoor Growing Environments

Awarded Amount $1,800,000   
Year 2023
Matching Funders AeroFarms, BASF, Benson Hill, Fluence by OSRAM, GreenVenus and Priva

Advancement of Strawberries for Indoor Environments: Mapping Chemical Compositions, Genetics, and Growing Conditions for Premium Flavor

Awarded Amount $1,800,000   
Year 2023
Matching Funders PIP Consortium: AeroFarms, BASF, FFAR, Fluence, GreenVenus and Priva.

FFAR & WUR Launch Nature-Based Future Challenge

Awarded Amount $255,001   
Year 2023
Matching Funders Wageningen University & Research (WUR)and the University Fund Wageningen

See all Urban Food System Awarded Grants

Urban Food Systems Consortium

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