Ensuring a Vibrant and Sustainable Agricultural Industry and Food Supply
In Connecticut, 12% of households experience food insecurity. Without access to fresh grown fruits and vegetables, many children in our state must deal with nutrition-related health conditions like obesity. While Connecticut is a geographically small state, many residents live more than half a mile from retailers with healthy food options, yet only 10% of our crop land is used to grow fresh produce. And although the agricultural industry is an integral part of the state's economy, producers face more challenges than others in the state. Between a changing climate and the need for modernization, Connecticut's producers are facing many barriers to entry and obstacles to success.
The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) is using our research, extension, and education expertise in sustainable agriculture to ensure both a healthy food supply and support Connecticut businesses. Our sustainable agriculture programs seek to:
- Advance innovative, sustainable approaches to agriculture that align with local resources and markets
- Support innovation, entrepreneurship, and established industry through a Center for Food Innovation that leverages CAHNR's R&D expertise
- Provide information to help producers address challenges posed by climate change, such as disease, invasive species, drought, and increasing temperatures
- Expand production and consumption of locally grown, safe, and nutritious foods
- Promote and support agricultural practices that encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Support specialized workforce development to recruit and retain talent in the state
In the news
A team from CAHNR, UConn Extension, and Connecticut Sea Grant is using innovative research and community outreach to help make Sugar Kelp, a type of nutrient-dense seaweed, more accessible for consumers and more profitable for producers
In order to holistically support sustainable agriculture, industry, and a healthy food supply, our work includes producers, processors, regulators, consumers, and community members. For instance, through this strategic vision area, CAHNR developed the framework for a potential food innovation center and surveyed Connecticut businesses, in conjunction with the UConn School of Business and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, to determine statewide needs. This direct feedback from the stakeholders we serve through our land-grant mission is informing next steps.
UConn CAHNR’s efforts are also helping increase local food production and consumption through agricultural education, extension outreach, and collaboration with partners and stakeholders through programs such as Put Local On Your Tray and the Connecticut Farm To School Collaborative.
Through various CAHNR and UConn Extension programs, we are engaging with Connecticut's early career and aspiring farmers who are seeking land and information about growing practices, markets, and other much needed resources. Through this outreach and other programs, CAHNR is on a mission to help Connecticut increase our statewide food security and the health of our residents through an effort to engage new and beginning farmers as well as consumers.
Building on current momentum, the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Supply strategic vison area continue to explore ways we can support Connecticut's residents, producers, businesses, and consumers now and in the future. By focusing our efforts on our two identified tracks, reducing food insecurity and ensuring a vibrant agricultural economy, we will leverage CAHNR's research, extension, and education expertise strategically and adapt efforts over time as needed to meet our land-grant mission.
- Sustainable Approaches to Agriculture
- Improve local food access and affordability
- Agrofood innovation and economic growth
- Workforce Development
Support CAHNR's Strategic Vision
CAHNR faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to join one of the strategic vision implementation committees to lend their perspectives and ideas to this College-wide initiative