Lauren Gwin Named Director of Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems

Following a comprehensive search, Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences has named Dr. Lauren Gwin as its new Director of the Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems (SFCFS).

Gwin joined Oregon State in 2008, co-founded SFCFS in 2013, and became OSU’s first Community Food Systems extension specialist in 2015. Her work focuses on local and regional food system development that is grounded in sustainability, equity, and collaboration.  She leads a team of innovative programs and people that bring a broad range of expertise and experience to complex food systems challenges and opportunities. Gwin also participates in national initiatives that elevate and enrich SFCFS’s impact in Oregon. An Associate Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science, Gwin holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.

“Lauren’s in-depth knowledge of Oregon’s vibrant local, community-based food systems and her trusted relationships with diverse stakeholders make her ideally suited to lead SFCFS,” said Staci Simonich, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station. “Her passion for bringing research-based solutions to complex challenges with an eye towards equity will help the Center continue to have even greater impact on Oregon’s vital small farms and community food systems.”

For decades, Oregon has been a national leader in diversified agriculture and food systems, including thousands of small- and mid-scale farmers selling direct to consumers in many ways, from farmers markets and U-Pick to food hubs and independent retailers, restaurants, schools, and other market channels all around the state. These entrepreneurial farms and their supply chain partners support their families and create jobs and economic impact in both urban and rural communities. SFCFS is a long-standing partner of these vital farms and food systems. Serving as a convener that communicates and prioritizes research and extension needs and opportunities with stakeholders and decision-makers, SFCFS facilitates co-creation and sharing out of research- and experience-based information in ways that serve the needs of stakeholders at state, regional and national/international levels.

“I am excited to build on SFCFS’s first 10 years, with our innovative team and programs,” Gwin said. “I am grateful to our partners and stakeholders and will work hard to keep their trust. Together, we will press on toward a resilient, sustainable food system for all Oregonians.

Gwin fills the position formerly held by Garry Stephenson, whose work at OSU focused on supporting farmers markets, sustainable farming methods, beginning farmer education, and the production and policy needs of organic farmers for more than 30 years before retiring earlier this year.