SURF

Sierra Raby

Implications of Landscape Features for Agroecological Strategies on Urban Farms

The U.S. food system is plagued by food insecurity, which disproportionately affects poor communities and communities of color. Urban agriculture can help remake food systems and mitigate food insecurity by providing opportunities to grow local, nutritious food. However, urban farms often struggle with pest management, and previous survey research on San Francisco Bay Area urban farms indicates that most farms experienced crop losses due to herbivorous insects. Developing low-input agroecological pest management practices for urban environments is vital and these strategies must consider the unique conditions of urban agroecosystems. As of now, urban habitat fragmentation and other off farm-characteristics related to urban agroecosystems have not been explored in depth. Our group is mapping urban agriculture sites and analyzing off-farm characteristics to identify landscape features that may promote pest control and ecosystem services while minimizing pesticide use. Additionally, I will correlate farm location and landscape trends with food insecurity and food deserts. Our maps and analyses aim to evaluate farm relevance to fighting food insecurity and help farmers plan functionally biodiverse landscapes to improve pest management.

Message to Sponsor

I would like to thank the Rose Hills Foundation for supporting my research this summer. They made it possible for me to conduct research full time and fully invest in my project, which focused on supporting urban agriculture by informing integrative pest management strategies. I was able to gather landscape data (both on farm sites and through maps of their surrounding environment) and create maps that will inform functional landscape planning on the farms. Working with the urban farming community and helping them combat food insecurity was an incredibly eye-opening experience and will continue to shape my future research and non-profit endeavors, as I hope to continue working with environmental justice-related projects. I am very grateful to the Rose Hills Foundation for making this research and educational experience possible.
  • Major: Molecular Environmental Biology
  • Sponsor: Rose Hills Experience
  • Mentor: Joshua Arnold