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January 2021 Urban Extension News Bulletin

Posted by msanderson | January 14, 2021

Features: Examining the Impact of Covid-19 on our Food System, Frontiers Call for Articles, Urban Ag Multi-State Project, Natura Learning Exchange residencies

Dear Colleagues,

2021 hasn’t exactly started out as a slow news year. Amidst the goings on of our tumultuous political and public health climate, opportunity emerges to do our unique part as urban Extension professionals – to solve tough problems and highlight opportunity for advancing sustainable urban living through applied research and practical science. Thanks for browsing this month’s happenings and for sharing these opportunities for learning and engagement with your colleagues.

Be well, wear your masks, and wash your hands.


Brad Gaolach Ph. D. | He/Him
Washington State University Extension
Director |Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension
Director | Western Center for Metropolitan Extension & Research
Associate Professor | Community & Economic Development
Phone: (425) 405-1734 | WSU Direct: 21734 | Twitter: @WSUMetroCenter | LinkedIn



Examining the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Food Systems, Food Security, and Food Access in Washington State

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted multiple components of the food system, affecting the food supply and greatly reducing consumer purchasing power. Food production, processing, and delivery systems are experiencing instability. There is an unprecedented need for unemployment benefits, public assistance programs, and food from local food banks. Food systems are changing, perhaps forever, and the consequences on diets, health, and well-being of US households remain to be assessed. Moreover, local, state, and federal measures to mitigate the dietary and health consequences of COVID-19 lack geo-located and granular data to aid in decision-making.

The online survey will assess recent changes experienced by households in food access pathways, the types of foods acquired, their nutritional value and their price. We also propose to assess food insecurity and economic well-being, with an emphasis on lower-income households.

Using the survey data, we will make and map estimates of prevalence of measures and compare the responses to pre-pandemic estimates, and we will explore differences in measures by relevant characteristics and location. The study will provide insights to Washington State agencies trying to respond to rapid-scale alterations in the food system and in food demand, inform Washington State efforts currently under way and led by WSU that are measuring and mapping food bank system needs by County, and be used to model food systems resilience and preparedness for future pandemics, disaster events and large-scale shocks.



Call for Articles: Sustainable Urbanization Through Urban-Rural Co-Development

  1. There are three themes we would like contributors to address:
    Regional and territorial planning for an integrated urban and rural development, with a particular focus on spatial planning that uses an ecological and landscape approach to shape urban-rural continuum while reducing the environmental impact on rural-urban convergences.
  2. Enhancing legislation, governance, and capacity via partnerships between urban and rural areas, including government collaboration and public-private partnership in regional planning to support flows of people, goods, and resources among big central cities, towns, and rural settlements for rural-urban co-benefits.
  3. Inclusive investment and finance in both urban and rural areas, especially equity-driven policies and investment strategies in areas such as housing and infrastructure aimed at reducing urban-rural disparities and supporting urban-rural co-development in economic, social, and cultural spheres.The types of manuscripts can include: original research, community case study, policy brief, and conceptual analysis.


Participants invited to help launch new agriculture initiative

Researchers and professionals in agriculture and the food system are invited to help launch a new, multistate research, education, and outreach effort supporting new and better ways to grow and market food and useful crops in homes and urban communities.

Faculty, staff, and students in Extension, university research programs, private industry, non-profits, and government agencies are sought to join the development committee of the new Western Urban, Indoor and other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education and Extension Initiative.

The project was launched by two research and Extension-serving organizations, the Western Agriculture Experiment Station Directors (WAAESD) and Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA), in fall 2020. Brad Gaolach, director of WSU’s Metropolitan Center for Applied Research & Extension, leads the development committee.

The western initiative was created in response to USDA-NIFA’s recently developed Urban, Indoor and Emerging Agriculture program, which helps support the development of emerging, urban, and indoor food production across production, harvesting, transportation, aggregation, packaging, distribution, and marketing.

“With new NIFA funding for urban, indoor, and emerging agriculture expected to be available in 2021, this initiative will create opportunities to create new projects, scale-up existing ones, and leverage existing funding sources to help expand and enrich food sources, businesses, and communities nationwide,” Gaolach said.

Potential projects range from commercial-scale to community and home-based production, through food equity, access, and reuse in urban communities. Expertise from all aspects of food and agriculture, including production, distribution, equity, and resource recovery, is welcomed.

Outreach for the project is being conducted across national urban Extension organizations, including the Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research (WCMER) and the National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL).

“This new working group can help WSU faculty and staff and community and industry partners make connections across the West and the entire U.S.,” Gaolach said.

A virtual meeting is being planned for spring 2021 to develop themes and topics for formal research and Extension projects.

Learn more, including how to join the development committee, online.

To get involved, contact Brad Gaolach at 425-405-1734 or by email to


Natura logo

NATURA Learning Exchanges for Graduate Students, Post-docs, and Early Career Academics

About the Program
The NATURA Learning Exchange Program is a 6- or 15-week residency for research and networking at collaborating network institutions. The goal of the exchange program is to 1) Provide opportunities for students, early-career academics, and practitioners to explore nature-based solutions for urban resilience by spending time in residence with other networks; 2) Support greater depth of analysis or synthesis by extending time of interaction; 3) Support practitioner-researcher interactions through exchanges among worldwide networks.

Host a Learning Exchange
Host and support a student, early-career academic, or practitioner at your Institution or site (virtually) who is interested in nature-based solutions for urban resilience. If interested, please fill out the quick survey by clicking the button below, and help us identify potential funding to support non-US early-career researchers or practitioners to participate in exchanges.

As a WSU faculty/staff member, you are eligible to apply through WSU’s affiliation with the Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research (WCMER). WCMER is a member organization of NATURA.

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