An Open Letter to Our Elected Officials

Our Region is Ready for an Office of Food Policy – Are Our Elected Officials up to the Challenge? 

With the upcoming election on the horizon, we have an opportunity to talk with our public officials about the importance of locally produced food. This letter has been crafted to help get the conversation started.  

We are fortunate to have many people in our local food community working to build a better agri-food system in the greater Cincinnati area. Organizations and Governmental offices such as Green Umbrella, the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, Green BEAN Delivery, Ohio Valley Food Connection, Our Harvest Cooperative, CORV Local Food Guide, Cultivate! Ohio Valley, the City of Cincinnati's Office of Environment and Sustainability, and a wide array of farmers, chefs, and health advocates are developing our food system as a resource to improve the well-being, wealth, sustainability, and livability of our region.   

A robust local food system offers solutions to severe problems we face in our communities, such as diet-related disease, food insecurity, poverty, and environmental degradation. A regional ecosystem grounded in family farms and processing facilities means widespread access to healthy foods and a growing job market anchored in an agroecological and sustainable relationship with our land. 

The challenges we face are complex, making this a time of opportunities. Creating an Office of Food Policy to provide coordination and leadership for the region will be a huge advancement.   Governments on this path are in Minneapolis, Louisville, Portland, Baltimore, Boston, and New York City, to name just a few around the country.  They coordinate and oversee a variety of initiatives related to food security, sustainability, urban agriculture, healthy food, etc.  Offices such as these are crucial to establishing, growing and advancing local and regional food policies and related businesses.

It is estimated that Hamilton County has a $173 million unmet demand for local fruit and vegetables alone. This is 40 times our current local production. There is a huge economic potential waiting to be met.  We need our leaders to push policies and programs for expanding production, processing, and distribution of locally grown foods. Strong, committed support for agriculture related economic initiatives must come from elected officials.

Six years ago, prophetic writer and farmer Wendell Berry and agricultural researcher and writer Wes Jackson called for a 50-year farm bill.  They wrote:

 Thoughtful farmers and consumers everywhere are already making many necessary changes in the production and marketing of food. But we also need a national agricultural policy that is based upon ecological principles. 

They acknowledged that changes were happening, not on the national level, but on the individual and local level.  While we still don’t have a 50-year farm bill, we do have a growing local food movement. Unless we get more support to build the infrastructure, our local food supply will come from farms near Columbus, Indianapolis, and Louisville. Each region is building a food-based economy. A strong regional food economy is needed in the Greater Cincinnati region as well.  Offices of Food Policy would be a great next step in our foodshed.

Thank you.

By: Ken Stern, Charlie Gonzalez, Anne Welling, Deborah Jordan, Breanna Parker, and Alan Wight


Thank you to everyone who has signed to support this effort. If you would like to add your signature to the list please sign your name below in the comments.

Brian Shircliff
Pleasant Ridge & Participant in Rooted in Food

Mary Dudley, M.A. Botany
Youth Education Coordinator
Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati 

Aprilann Pandora
Urban Farmer, Eden Urban Gardens, LLC
Phone: 513.485.2679

Heather Augustine
Professor & Advisor
Horticulture/Agriculture Dept
Cincinnati State Technical & Community College

Jamie Stoneham, 
Food educator and advocate,
FarmChef Services,
(513) 658-0188 

Kristen St. Clair
Culinary Educator
In the Field LLC

Lauren Wulker
Farm Manger
Miami University Institute for Food 

Joseph T. Gorman
Executive Director
Camp Washington Urban Farm

Enright Ridge Urban Ecovillage Farm Project
Michelle Savoti, Nancy Sullivan
Jim Schenk, Sandie Lett
Angela Larck, Ashley Philpot
Nathan Reidel
Contact: Suellyn Shupe 

Drausin Wulsin
Grassroots Farm and Food
Les Stoneham
Deeper Roots Coffee

MiMi Chamberlin, Executive Director
CAIN - Churches Active In Northside,

Alan Wight
Professor, University of Cincinnati

Deborah Jordan
Producer, CORV Local Food Guide

Breanna Parker
Creative Director, CORV Local Food Guide 

Ken Stern
Manager, Cultivate Ohio Valley 

Charlie Gonzalez & Anne Welling
OEFFA, SW Ohio Chapter 

Mike Eck and Denise Eck
Co-Founders of Rooted in Food 

Tevis Foreman
Produce Perks, Midwest

Gary Dangel
Healthy Outreach Coordinator
Walnut Hills

Michael Loadenthal, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor, Miami University

Ryan Doan
Urban Greens

Trazana A. Staples
Executive Director
Gabriel’s Place  

Kathleen R. Smythe
Professor, Xavier University

Tricia Watts
Executive Director
Gorman Heritage Farm

Sue Plummer, Manager
Julie Hanser Community Garden
Mercy Neighborhood Ministries 

Debbie Clark
Environmental Activist