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Chelsea Alexander

School: Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Department: Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Event Attendance: Community Food Systems Conference

Location: Savannah, Georgia



Through my TIE Travel Grant, I was able to attend the Community Food Systems Conference 2019 held in Savannah, Georgia. This conference was hosted by New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, an initiative of Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and the Georgia Farmers Market Association. This conference focused on the intersection of many of my primary passions here at Tufts within the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning department—food security, social justice, and sustainable agriculture. I had the opportunity to learn from and alongside a wide variety of professionals and academics steeped in these fields, through workshops, panel discussions, lightning talks, and a keynote speaker. I also had the ability to network and connect with these professionals in a variety of settings during the conference and share with them a bit about the work I am doing at Tufts.

I am taking away from this conference a renewed sense of hope and optimism for food systems work, and many new ideas and tools I can apply to my own future practice. Most of all, I appreciate the fresh perspectives this conference exposed me to—my studies have been hyper-focused on the Northeastern United States, so I greatly valued the opportunity to gain alternative perspectives on these issues, particularly those from the South and Southeast regions, who all bring different lived experiences to the table.

This conference was relevant and informative for my thesis work on New American farmers/gardeners and agricultural service providers, as well as for learning about various careers in my field—in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors—and how people are putting their skills and interests into practice and having a real impact. I am very grateful to have had this amazing opportunity—thank you, TIE!