OOS 19-10 - Urban agroecology and assessing resiliency of urban farms in the San Francisco Bay Area

Wednesday, August 9, 2017: 11:10 AM
Portland Blrm 253, Oregon Convention Center
Joshua Arnold, Environmental Science Policy and Management, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Urban Agriculture (UA) - farming or gardening in the built-environment - has become increasingly popular in major cities around the world. Proponents champion farming the city for its positive economic and health benefits, but academics often fail to generate quantitative data on form and function to support many of these claims. Moreover, data collected is often of little use to the farmers themselves – who are managing small, diversified farming systems with little resources. Building on our Urban Agroecological survey conducted between 2015 and 2017 in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, we use responses from sixty-four farm managers (n=64) as well as quantitative data to assess security-of-tenure based on legal land status: ownership, short- or long-term lease, memorandums of understanding, or de facto use. After indexing status of tenure, we compare ten other factors identified as indicators of economic and social resilience to describe relationships that may indicate risk. Specifically, we hope to identify what factors make UA sites persist in an ever-changing urban landscape.


In this session, we will discuss the status of at-risk farms and ongoing analysis. While risk factors are not causal and may not be indicators of failure or success of urban agriculture sites, more qualitative and quantitative data may help us frame often ecologically based resilience discussions through a social ecology lens, useful for farm managers, policy makers and community organizations as they face challenges to their tenure for rent-seeking and development. We find security-of-tenure is not always a sign of resiliency. More importantly, urban farms need to build a deep legitimacy within the fabric of their communities to maintain access to land.