Predoctoral Fellow 2014-2015, Institute for Environmental Science and Policy
Exploring “food provisioning” variability of urban gardens
Researching nature in cities offers a fascinating opportunity to investigate both social and ecological dimensions of urban systems. My doctoral work focuses on studying Chicago urban food systems for understanding the variability of urban crop performance and quality as it relates to growing location near street traffic. Approximately 50% of Chicago food gardens within 35 feet of a traffic corridor. The local food movement has resulted in an increase in food production all over Chicago, with many communities applying urban agricultural systems for addressing health, economic and educational inequities. While the local food movement acknowledges soil stress as a threat to productivity and crop quality, there has been very little studied regarding the city air and city food.
Thus my research investigates the variability of crop growth, yield and quality using methods of biological monitoring, stable isotope analysis and social surveys of growers for a much-needed evaluation of urban agriculture in the city of Chicago, IL. The impetus for this research is an emerging concern by urban agriculturalists, public health practitioners, and policy makers over the health of urban crops and sustainability of local food systems.