Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

No small beans: Affordable food production in an era of economic uncertainty
by Emmons, Regan Genevieve, M.A., Northern Arizona University, 2012, 111; 1511505
Abstract (Summary)

Home food cultivation is growing in popularity throughout the United States. This activity is a reaction to the shortcomings of the industrial food system, and it also provides increased food security in a time of economic insecurity. Food production, however, can be very challenging and costly in high-elevation, arid regions. Thus, the central question of this thesis is: Despite the high cost of food production, how can the community of Flagstaff, AZ broadly engage in food production in an era of economic uncertainty? In an effort to answer this question, I interviewed and surveyed gardeners in the Flagstaff area to understand the cost-reducing strategies of home gardening, and how these strategies are transferrable to diverse socioeconomic populations. The data collected during these interviews were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. As a result of this inquiry, I have identified the strategies employed by cultivators that reduce the costs of food production. I also conclude that adoption of these strategies by any individual is impossible to predict given multiple conditions that determine if and how strategies can be employed. Knowledge, skills, and participation in networks are examples of the conditions to which I refer. Articulating the strategies being employed, however, relay important messages. First, home food cultivation contributes to the local economy, and it has the potential to create an engaging economy in its own right. Even more broadly, understanding the challenges of growing food in this community and the ways in which individuals are succeeding despite these challenges, indicates that home food cultivation contributes to a culture of food production. The challenge of growing food in affordable ways also presents opportunities to democratically organize around creating affordable opportunities of food production. I present these opportunities in the form of recommendations for policy changes, incentive programs and other structural changes that could provide more opportunities for highly productive and affordable gardening.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Curtis, Kimberley
Commitee: Schipper, Janine, Vasquez, Miguel
School: Northern Arizona University
Department: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 50/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Agricultural economics, Political science, Public policy, Sustainability
Keywords: Community economy, Community gardening, Diverse economy, Food justice, Gardening, Home food cultivation
Publication Number: 1511505
ISBN: 978-1-267-36775-4
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