Future of Farming and Food Town Halls
Kansans are invited to attend one of the Kansas Rural Center’s (KRC) “Future of Farming and Food” Town Hall meetings across the state this summer. Five meetings will facilitate discussion on the food system and farming and how these are related to climate and energy issues, and rural/urban revitalization. Unlike KRC’s town Halls in past summers, this one will also include Wichita and the Kansas City area so we can tackle issues common to both rural and urban communities and the rural/urban gap.
The Town Halls offer opportunities to share information and enable community dialogue on the vision for the future we want and how we get there. Discussion will include issues critical to Kansas ranging from the impacts of weather extremes and a changing climate on our food system and farming, population loss (especially of young people), health care, and present and future economic opportunities.
Town Hall Agenda:
5:30 pm – Local Food Dinner
6:00 pm – Town Hall discussion including panel of experts on our food system and farming, climate and energy and rural/urban community needs and community discussion.
8:00 pm – Conclude
Town Hall Dates, Locations, & Speakers:
July 8 – Emporia, Bowyer Community Building (Lyon County Fairgrounds, Emporia, KS 66801)
Panel: Aubrey Streit Krug, The Land Institute; Rachel Myslivy, the Climate and Energy project; Matt Sanderson, Professor of Sociology at K-State; Jeremy Cowan, Asst. Professor, Sustainable Food Production Systems at K-State; and Gail Fuller, Fuller Family Farms.
July 10 – Wichita, Studio School (751 George Washington Blvd, Wichita, KS 67211)
Panel: Stu Shafer, Director, Sustainable Agriculture Program, Johnson County Community College; Rachel Myslivy, Climate and Energy Project; Jeremy Cowan, Asst. Professor, Sustainable Food Production Systems at K-State; Linda Pechin- Long, Graze The Prairie.
July 30 – Garden City*
July 31 – St. Francis, Fresh Seven (312 Washington St, St Francis, KS 67756)
August – Kansas City area*
*Check back for updates on locations,dates, and panelists.
The 2019 State legislative session displayed a new elevated status to some of the above issues in rural Kansas. The year started with a new Governor and a new Office of Rural Prosperity to ensure that all Kansans have access to a high quality of life, regardless of their zip code. The Kansas House established a Rural Revitalization Committee responding to the key issues impacting the rural economy and social structure: population loss and changing demographics, health care, rural infrastructure, and food systems and farming. But these issues also impact our urban neighbors.
The shift in climate, increasing weather extremes, and the need for a transition to renewable energy impact all of us, both urban and rural landscapes, communities, businesses, and people’s health. Recent extreme weather events in Kansas (flooding after two years of severe drought and the wildfires of 2017) and the attention on renewable energy developments have many Kansans thinking about how their lives are affected.
“Kansans are responding to these changes whether we realize it or not,” stated Mary Fund. KRC Executive Director. “Whether our responses are wise or not is often unclear. Only through tackling the issues in conversation with our neighbors will the path forward become clearer. We want people to come away from the meetings with better understanding of our common concerns and hopefully some common goals.”
Each town hall meeting will feature an expert on our food system and farming, climate and energy issues, and rural/urban revitalization and how we come together to address these.
Attendees will then have time to ask questions, respond to the panelists, and share their experiences or opinions about the issues addressed to help identify what is needed to advance opportunities in their communities and/or the region.
All Town Halls will include a complementary meal featuring locally sourced ingredients with the program following. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required to ensure a meal as a limited number of meals are available at each meeting.
If you have special needs due to a disability, please contact Caryl Hale to arrange access. If you have other questions or want to register, contact Caryl Hale at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-579-5469 Ext. 702.
The town halls are part of KRC’s “Community Food Solutions for a Healthier Kansas” initiative and Integrated Voter Engagement project, funded by the Kansas Health Foundation. The projects aim to improve economic, community, environmental, and human health in Kansas by strengthening civic engagement and public policy support that better incorporates Kansas farms and communities into the state’s healthy food supply chain. The town halls are also partially funded by Humanities Kansas, a nonprofit cultural organization connecting with history, traditions, and ideas to strengthen civic life.