Focus and Scope

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) is an online, international, peer-reviewed publication focused on the practice and applied research interests of agriculture and food systems development professionals. JAFSCD emphasizes best practices and tools related to the planning, community economic development, and ecological protection of local and regional agriculture and food systems, and works to bridge the interests of practitioners and academics. Articles are published online as they are approved, but are gathered into quarterly issues for indexing purposes. JAFSCD is an online-only journal; subscribers access the content online and may download or print any articles.

As the journal focuses on the practice of agriculture and food system development, empirical and methodological content are emphasized over the theoretical. Applied research-based papers, case studies, project post-mortems, effective strategies, impact analyses, new possibilities (problems-solving, opportunity-taking and the like) are examples of what professionals in government, the nonprofit sector, and private practice find helpful in their work.

Production-Oriented Themes

  • Sustainable agriculture (though not including production techniques or technology)
  • Urban agriculture and community gardening
  • Agricultural education/mentoring/farm-to-farm
  • Farm labor
  • New farmers, small farm development
  • Farmland protection (easements, zoning, etc.)

Processing and Marketing-Oriented Themes

  • Adding value strategies
  • Diversification and specialization (e.g., specialty-crop industry clusters)
  • Distribution systems, cooperatives, value chains, food hubs
  • Agriculture of the middle
  • Marketing strategies, campaigns, and food and ag. tourism
  • Geographic Indications

Consumption-Oriented Themes

  • Consumer knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
  • Food systems planning
  • Food policy
  • Food citizenship
  • Food security
  • Emergency food assistance
  • Health, nutrition and well-being
  • Emergency food assistance
  • Food sovereignty and food justice

We acknowledge that all of these themes, and many others, are interlinked in a complex web — as opposed to a linear structure as is depicted above. The themes in the center, for example, can be contextually linked to purely production or consumption topics. Papers accepted for peer review by the Journal can focus on the one or more themes, and transdisciplinary research is highl encouraged. Furthermore, we recognize this topical purview is connected to many non-food system issues, including employment, global warming, a region's economic base, income, cultural issues, energy, environmental degradation, politics, global trade, and other topics. We hope that papers submitted can reflect this complexity by embedding the core themes of their work within larger contexts such as these. 

Contextual Subjects

Within a theme, papers may concentrate on a wide range of contextual subjects, including but not limited to:

  • Advocacy
  • Barriers
  • Best practices
  • Civic engagement and participatory strategies
  • Development (regional, community, rural, urban)
  • Conflict resolution
  • Community decline
  • Economics
  • Employment, labor, workforce
  • Energy flow and efficiency
  • Entrepreneurship and microenterprise
  • Financing
  • Environmental and conservation issues
  • Ethics
  • Financing and investment
  • Food safety
  • Impact, indicators, benchmarking
  • Legal issues
  • Organizational development and infrastructure
  • Place-making
  • Practitioner professional development
  • Recycling and waste management
  • Regulations and policy
  • Rural development
  • Social issues (e.g., disadvantaged groups)
  • Student and volunteer opportunities
  • Techniques, tools, strategies, approaches
  • Youth

Related Fields

Agriculture and Food Systems-Based Community Development has several kindred fields:

  1. Sustainable development is development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." ((United Nations, World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987)
  2. Community Economic Development (CED) is "action taken locally by a community to provide economic opportunities and improve social conditions in a sustainable way. Often CED initiatives aim to improve the lot of those who are disadvantaged. An aspect of 'localizing economics,' CED is a community-centered process that blends social and economic development to foster the economic, social, ecological and cultural well-being of communities." (Wikipedia)
  3. Food Policy is the "area of public policy concerning the production and distribution of food. It consists of the setting of goals for food production, processing, marketing, availability, access, utilization and consumption, as well as the processes for achieving these goals. The policy may be set on any level from local to global. Food policy comprises the mechanisms by which food-related matters are addressed or administered by governments, by international bodies or networks, or by any public institution or private organization. As a subfield of public policy, food policy covers the entire food chain, from natural resources to production, processing, marketing and retailing, as well as food hygiene, consumption and nutrition." (Wikipedia)

Peer Review Process

The following are the basic steps in the process of submitting, peer-reveiwing, and publishing a manuscript in the JAFSCD:

  1. Complete and submit the JAFSCD Query Form.
  2. JAFSCD editor in chief will review the form (and any additional attachment(s)) and notify the corresponding author whether the manuscript is approved for submission.
  3. If the submission is approved, the author is given instructions for registering and uploading the manuscript into JAFSCD's peer-review system. The author is also given a copy of the conflict of interest disclosure form that will need to be signed if the paper is accepted. This lets the author be aware of how to handle disclosures early in the process. (See an overview of conflicts of interest at Wikipedia.)
  4. JAFSCD editors assign the manuscript to two or more reviewers. The peer-review system is double-blind so that neither the author nor the reviewer is aware of the other’s identity. 
  5. The reviewers make recommendations on whether to accept (typically with minor revisions recommended),  provisionally accept (accept for a second review after major revisions are completed), or reject a manuscript. In all cases, the editors make the final judgment on whether to accept.
  6. After the reviewers' comments and recommendations are received, the editors notify the author by email of the decision and attach the reviews and any additional materials (such as copies of the manuscript with suggested edits and embedded comments).
  7. If the manuscript is provisionally accepted, JAFSCD editors generally give the corresponding author latitude regarding which of the reviewers’ recommendations they must address. However, the revised manuscript must be accompanied by a separate document or embedded comments in the revision noting how the author(s) responded to the reviewers' key recommendations.
  8. Some back and forth editorial activity may take place between the author and the journal editors as the manuscript is copy-edited and fact-checked. The author receives the edited version and approves or declines the edits and responds to any questions and comments. The manuscript is then formatted for publication.
  9. Once a formatted manuscript is completed, the corresponding author is asked to give it his or her final review and sign an author agreement transferring the copyright to New Leaf Associates, Inc., certifying that any conflicts of interest have been disclosed, and signing off on the version to be published.

Publication Frequency

Articles are published online as they are approved and formatted, and are gathered into quarterly issues for indexing purposes. Occasional supplements are published in addition to the quarterly issues.

Open Access Policy

JAFSCD content is published as open access—available to all, worldwide, without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access. All content is copyrighted by the authors and can be cited or reused with proper attribution through the CC BY 4.0 license.

We are able to do this through an innovative funding model: a community-supported journal. JAFSCD shareholders support the journal with annual shares that show their commitment to broad distribution of JAFSCD's research.

Plagiarism Statement

JAFSCD actively checks submissions for instances of plagiarism using Microsoft Word and online plagiarism-checking software. A good overview of plagiarism and practices to avoid it can be found at the APA Style Blog.


JAFSCD is funded in part by the following partners. These leading North American university programs focused on food systems pay an annual sponsorship fee in support of JAFSCD's open access publication of high-quality, transdisciplinary research.

Sources of Support

Many entities are supporting JAFSCD as the world's first community-supported journal by becoming shareholders and joining the JAFSCD Open Access Shareholder Consortium. Libraries are also continuing to support JAFSCD by becoming Library Shareholders.

Journal History

JAFSCD was founded by New Leaf Associates, Inc., a social enterprise owned by Amy Christian and Duncan Hilchey. In an online market survey conducted by New Leaf Associates in the summer of 2009 regarding the proposed new journal, the over 1,200 respondents strongly endorsed the proposed concept of an applied journal with a focus on the interests of practitioners, farmers, students, and applied researchers, both in the U.S. and abroad. By practitioners we mean the staff of nonprofit organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, consultants, and others who are on the frontier of agriculture and food systems development.

The respondents reported a wide range of interests across the entire spectrum of the food system. However, given the pre-existance of both academic and applied journals in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and food security, we are intentionally narrowing the focus of the journal to the core of activities in the food system where producers and consumers share keen interests. 

In 2013, JAFSCD became a publication of the Lyson Center for Civic Agriculture, a project of the Center for Transformative Action, a nonprofit affiliated with Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Founders Amy Christian and Duncan Hilchey still edit and manage the journal, which also has 4 regular columnists, 25 advisors, and over 150 reviewers around the world. We appreciate the support of these volunteers and supporters.

On January 1, 2018, JAFSCD transitioned to become an open access journal, freely available to all. We based our open access model on something familiar to those involved with food systems — community supported agriculture — to become the world's first community supported journal.

Ongoing funding to support open access comes from organizations that purchase annual open access shares to become shareholders; our four founding partners; and continuing support from libraries as library shareholders.