In 2015, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona began convening a network of partners including farms, school districts, healthcare institutions, food distributors, and advocates to develop a regional food value chain that gets fresh, local produce to people in large volumes through institutional buyers. The value chain network is innovating to develop and test new systems and markets—making tangible changes to the way our food system functions—while working to build inclusive, local ownership and control of our region’s natural, social, and financial resources and a regional food system that works for all. Join us for a panel discussion as we explore the collective impact – from a local economic development standpoint, a sustainable environmental standpoint, a civic engagement standpoint, and a cultural conservation standpoint – generated through this partnership.
Matthew (“Matt”) M. Mars, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Leadership and Innovation and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Agricultural Education at The University of Arizona. He is also a Fellow in the Cardon Academy of Teaching Excellence in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dr. Mars teaches undergraduate and graduate courses relevant to social innovation, entrepreneurial leadership, and agricultural development in both rural and urban communities. His research agenda generally aims to identify new insights on and develop a deeper understanding of the educational and organizational factors and dynamics that foster agricultural and community development. His research is notably interdisciplinary with collaborations that intersect communication, ecology, and marketing. The topical areas of interest that Dr. Mars is currently focusing on include: the system-level work (i.e., institutional entrepreneurship) associated with local food system development, the organizational ecosystem metaphor, and the socialization and professional development of women graduate students in the agricultural and STEM disciplines. His research is published in journals such as the Agriculture and Human Values, Higher Education, Journal of Agricultural Education, The Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Management Inquiry, Organizational Dynamics, and the Review of Higher Education. Dr. Mars earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree through the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona.