Situating Food Symposium Envisions Better Food Systems


On November 7-8, 2013, the Knowlton School hosted the symposium Situating Food: Planning and Design for New Urban Food Systems. The event aimed at identifying innovative food system models to enrich the community, and attracted more than 160 participants from numerous departments within the larger university and non-Ohio State community collaborators, including Local Matters, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, the Eastern market Corporation, Mid-Ohio Food Bank and local residents.

The symposium coincided with the associated Knowlton School Banvard Gallery exhibit, Food Situations.

Situating Food featured visits to sites in Columbus and on the Ohio State campus, opening and closing keynote speakers (Mose Ricci, University of Genoa, Partner of Ricci Spaini Architetti Associati SrL, Rome and author of New Paradigms; Erika Allen, the National Projects Director, Growing Power, Chicago) and three thematic panels with nationally renowned experts on the topics of: How Cities Change: Food and Urban Redevelopment; Theories and Criticism of Contemporary Food Systems; and, Alternative Development and Land Use Practices, Innovation and Health.

Knowlton School architecture professor Kay Bea Jones was the event’s primary organizer, with Knowlton landscape architecture professors Katherine Bennett and Jake Boswell and city and regional planning professor Bernadette Hanlon playing other key roles.

Speaking of the large and diverse set of participants and attendees that took part in the symposium, Jones stated, “I anticipate that these professional relationships will grow to assist with our local design and development work.” Jones and several other Knowlton faculty are deeply involved with the related effort to create the Food District @ Weinland Park, “a collaborative effort of government, education, nonprofit, grassroots community partners and neighborhood residents to create a locally based, self-reliant food economy – one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is central while enhancing the economic, environmental and social health of the Weinland Park neighborhood and potentially the entire Central Ohio region.” The Food District project is funded by a, $865,000 challenge grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Situating Food examined the evolving relationship between urban-rural and how that would impact our food system. As moderator and Ohio State professor Leo Coleman echoed, “I found it very interesting that land itself came so clearly into focus as a political-economic and social tool-in my own thinking. I am going to try, in the future, to link that emerging urban topic back to classic discussions about the relations between land-wealth, power, freedom and urban-life ways.”

Casey Hoy, an entomology professor of Ohio State agreed, “I found myself thinking a lot about the urban-rural continuum and how the past distinction between rural as a place to produce - and export – food, and urban as a place to produce - and import and export - stuff is changing across the entire continuum; lots of distributed manufacturing is taking place out in farm country.”

All talks and panels can be viewed online on the Knowlton School YouTube page.

Sponsors and Collaborators

Situating Food: Planning and Design for New Urban Food Systems was made possible through the generosity and participation of the following organizations:


Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture
College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences
College of Arts & Sciences
OSU Food Innovation Center (FIC)
FIC Initiative, Food Security: Hunger.FOOD.Health
North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR SARE)


John Glenn School of Public Affairs
Wexner Center for the Arts
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC)
Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC)
Mid-Ohio Food Bank
City of Columbus Public Health
Godman Guild
Local Matters