Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Attitudes and perspectives about backyard food gardening: A case study in south Florida
by Zahina-Ramos, John G., Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University, 2013, 126; 3571439
Abstract (Summary)

As cities grew throughout the past century, the availability of locally grown food declined, mostly because urban expansion occurred at the expense of adjacent agricultural land. As a result, city dwellers turned to commercial food market systems that import food from distant production areas. Private greenspace, which is one of the largest land cover types in cities, offers the potential for substantial agricultural production. Because urban food production on private land, such as backyards, requires the willing participation of landowners, resident’s feelings about and experience with food growing are important to understand.

This study examined the demographic differences between food growers and non-food growers with respect to their attitudes and perspectives about backyard food growing. The positive associations, the problems and barriers residents encountered, and the resources they needed to begin food gardening, were identified through questionnaires and in-depth interviews administered to study participants in Palm Beach County, Florida, U.S.A. The demographic groups that were most likely to food garden were those in long-term relationships, higher income brackets, those with college education and residents over 50 years old. Incentives and programs focused on producing more from existing gardens may be most appropriate for people in these demographic groups, while other groups will most require basic food growing information. Study participants highly valued intangible benefits of food gardening (e.g., relaxation, feelings of happiness and satisfaction), often more than the provision of food. Most barriers and problems with backyard food growing, such as a lack of space and the need for gardening information, were similar for those who food garden and those who do not.

Results from this study indicate that traditional agricultural incentives and perspectives must be rethought if they are to be applied in urban settings. The practice of backyard food gardening, which can be a significant part of sustainable urban agriculture, must be viewed and valued beyond the framework of market commodities and economics. By creating incentives and initiatives that reflect the needs and challenges faced by urban growers, urban agriculture will become an integrated part of the community, improving food quantity and quality while enriching residents’ lives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fadiman, Maria
Commitee: Hindle, Tobin, Ivy, Russell, Mitsova, Diana, Roberts, Charles
School: Florida Atlantic University
Department: Geosciences
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Horticulture, Sustainability, Urban planning
Keywords: Food growing, Food security, Gardening, Sustainability, Urban agriculture
Publication Number: 3571439
ISBN: 9781303228117
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