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Urban Agriculture: Food, Connection, Community Restoring Resilience in Phoenix, Arizona

Bundy, Nicole D (2018) Urban Agriculture: Food, Connection, Community Restoring Resilience in Phoenix, Arizona. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Agriculture in the US is dominated by corporate ownership of food and industrial agriculture. Industrial ag utilizes practices, like monocropping and pesticide use, that undermine the long-term ecological health of food systems. Agriculture is a social-ecological system, meaning it has ecological and social implications. Food is a powerful confluence of culture, community, and identity and the way our corporately owned, industrial food system operates, undermines these relationships. Large cities, like Phoenix Az, are already experiencing ecological degradation, social inequity, food insecurity, and other negative impacts related to industrial agriculture and our food system. Climate change is projected to exacerbate these impacts with changes in water availability and increased temperatures. Urban agriculture has been used a mechanism for increasing the resilience or adaptability of nations in response to crisis. Semi-structured interviews and participant observations were utilized for this study. The study was comprised of eleven semi-structured interviews, 26 informal interviews, four events of participant observations, observed 42 garden participants in six gardens, three of which were “bottom-up, community-based, collaborative effort” and three non-profit gardens. Each garden was located within a sixteen mile radius of Central City Phoenix and the furthest distance between study gardens was 25 miles. The data was coded and four themes emerged: resources, ecology, food security, and community. Resources was the most comprehensive theme with three codes including time, infrastructure, and knowledge. The theme of ecology is referring to the growing practices at each garden. Food security was discussed by all respondents either through donations to the local food bank, volunteer harvests, and knowledge sharing. Community was challenging to define, but evident through every interview and observational experience. The sense of community was unique to each garden. Urban agriculture is happening throughout Phoenix as community gardens, non-profit organizations, for-profit entities, or educational platforms. Based on my data and experiences, I do believe that urban agriculture in Phoenix is helping to promote social-ecological resilience and food security, but these efforts are still in their infancy. The scale of these efforts are small and the relationships made in the gardens appear to be more surface level remaining primarily in the garden. One respondent described having a sense of tribe with other garden participants. This deep sense of relationship with members of their community it important to the development of socio-ecological resilience in response to changing circumstances. There were many barriers discussed throughout my research, but the four most significant were culture, economy, political, and time.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Gardens, Gardening, Phoenix, Arizona, Food security, Urban agriculture
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Sustainable Communities
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2018 20:04
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5271

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