I’m pleased to announce that AgroEcoLab PhD student Jude Wait and I (MJC) were awarded an internal grant from WSU, a Project Planning Grant supporting Jude’s project, “Agroecology of Urban Food Farming: Effects of Organic and Biologically Intensive Practices on Soil Quality and Socioeconomic Resilience in Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon.”

I want to especially congratulate Jude on her hard work through many forms and drafts of this grant. The funds will allow her to focus on defining the populations and questions most relevant to them around urban food farming in Portland and Vancouver. It’s been a challenge securing funding for this work, as even though it’s estimated that 15% of the world’s food is produced in urban areas (unfortunately, all links to USDA’s “Alternative Farming Systems Information Center” currently appear to be down…) most funding appears to be for commercial agricultural endeavors, even in the urban environment. Zezza and Tasciotti’s results from 15 developing countries* broadly supports the USDA estimate, at least within developing countries. But further, their results imply that most of this 15% may be for self-consumption, local exchange and trade, or barter–e.g. that very little of it enters the money economy. (For example, the %age of people who draw income from urban food production appears to be much smaller than the %age of people engaged in urban food production.) Of course, Z&T emphasize that a real problem is a lack of hard data in many areas; still, it’s interesting to consider that 3-15% of food may come from urban areas. For perspective, that would mean urban food production may be many times larger than the organic sector (which, in an unfortunately non-comparable statistic, is estimated to cover less than 1% of agricultural land, including large amounts of extensive, organic rangeland). If recent meetings of many of our colleagues is any indication, however, a number of researchers are starting to focus on urban agriculture and ecosystems. Interesting that this focus may be preceding established funding streams–a possible indication of actual pertinence and scientific interest (hopefully) driving funding rather than the other way around?

In other news, a big “Welcome” to Amber Heckelman, who has now joined us on the Vancouver campus as a PhD pre-candidate! Bem vindo!

*An earlier draft of Z&T’s paper can be found for free from the FAO here.

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