The Food & Agriculture Professional Section establishes a forum where garden professionals can explore and collaborate on the myriad aspects of food production that may be of interest to garden visitors, researchers, program participants and other stakeholders. Based on the fact that gardens are often centers of community-based horticulture, including agriculture, and that agricultural activities are major determinants of plant biodiversity conservation, public gardens have much to offer the public in this subject area. Professionals in this section will explore how gardens can engage a broad public audience in education about agricultural systems, including their impact on food security, biodiversity, nutrition, sustainability, equitability and both cultural and economic development. In addition, this section will provide a forum to share best management practices for the horticultural care of food plants, whether for displays, education and training programs, community-based agriculture, collections, or other areas of interest to public garden stakeholders.
The public is increasingly interested in learning about where their food comes from. In addition, agricultural practices have been, and remain, the single greatest driver of plant biodiversity loss. As such, inclusion of food and agriculture in gardens represents an excellent way to connect with the public about the importance of plants to humans; to elucidate the critical connection between agricultural practices and plant conservation; to demonstrate the importance of resilient local food systems; and to showcase eating practices that serve individual and community health. This section will become a resource for gardens engaging in these increasingly topical subjects as well as a venue to develop strategies for national and international efforts to improve public awareness and ecosystem function related to food and agriculture.