Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Legacy Department

Landscape Architecture

Advisor

Russell, Paul C

Committee Member

Powers , Matthew N

Committee Member

Ford , Daniel J

Abstract

Our ability to produce food in a sustainable, healthy and humane manner is threatened, both in the United States and on the global scale. This difficulty is exacerbated by expected population growth, creating a need for 60% more food worldwide by 2050 to feed a population of 9.3 billion (United Nations Chronicle, 2012). How we produce food affects local economies, the cultural vitality of communities, and the health of regional ecosystems. Industrial or conventional agriculture is damaging all three of these systems, by draining local economies through corporate business practices, isolating farmers and attributing to rural population losses, while depleting natural resources and polluting the environment (National Research Council, 2010; Union for Concerned Scientists, 2008; World Bank, 2012). Additionally, the healthy agricultural lands that remain around cities are being developed at alarming rates in relation to population growth (Partnership for a Sustainable Community, 2011; USDA, 2012). In response to these threats, as well as inequities in global food supply and distribution, this study is concerned with how family farms that practice sustainable agriculture approach self-sufficiency within their local communities. This study address self-sufficiency from the perspectives of scale, practices, proximity, access, relationship, and engagement through case studies of nine southeastern family farms. The goal of the study is to define design solutions for managing working lands through sustainable agriculture, so as to ensure the long-term health of local communities, economies, and ecosystems. Results of the study indicate that there is a need to holistically address agriculture from the perspectives of government, farmers, and citizens through conservation, production, and education. Moving forward, this research implies a need to expedite the National discussion on food production and working lands management, so that we can begin to prevent the loss of productive lands, agricultural knowledge, and of able farmers, ensuring a future for food and farming in America.

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