Food Hubs and the Regional Food System: Refining Our Understanding of Best Practices from Foodsheds to Operations

Final report for LS13-256

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $230,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2017
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Carrie Furman
University of Georgia Crop and Soil Sciences Department
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Project Information

Abstract:

Food hub models in Georgia vary due to differences in geography, grower characteristics, mission, infrastructure available, business plan, and markets targeted. Due to this, specific food hub needs and lessons learned will differ when compared across these variables. This project utilizes input from growers, food hub managers, and buyers from qualitative and quantitative data to better understand this diversity. This systems research will document lessons, innovations and solutions of extant food hubs, and generate guidelines for farmers interested in working with food hubs. Results were shared with a wide audience through workshops, presentations, and publications.

Project Objectives:

The objectives of the Food Hubs and the Regional Food System: Refining Our Understanding of Best Practices from Foodsheds to Operations for the initial year were: 1) Meet with members of an Advisory Committee and refine interview guide; 2) Recruit and train graduate assistant; 3) Plan for Ethnographic Field School; 4) Begin IMPLAN analysis of economic impacts; 4) Begin interviewing stakeholders associated with food hubs; 5) Participate in Food Hub Learning Network workshops and conferences

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Julia Gaskin
  • Dr. Hilda Kurtz
  • Dr. Faidra Papavasiliou
  • Dr. Lurleen Walters

Research

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

60 Farmers
75 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Munden-Dixon K. et al Paper presented in a session on rural food systems. To be presented at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in 2018.

Furman, Carrie and Faidra Papavasiliou (In press) Scale and Affect in the Local Food Movement Food, Culture, and Society to be published April 2018.

Furman, C. Gaskin, J. Papavasiliou, F. Munden-Dixon, K. Walters, L. Kurtz, H. (In press) Food Hubs in Georgia: A Potential Market for Small and Mid-Scale Farms. University of Georgia Extension Bulletin.

Papavasiliou, F. Furman, C. Connecting hubs to the local food system: Food hubs and their role in redrawing a more sustainable food future Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting March 29-April 1, 2017. Santa Fe, NM

Cisneros, C. Atlanta Food Hubs: A Growing Community, GSURC, April 17 2017 Georgia State University Atlanta GA. Won a GSURC Sustainably Award
Cisneros, C. Papavasiliou, F. Furman, C. Food hubs growing strong: Using ethnography to facilitate communication in food hub development. Young Scholar Program Poster presented at the SSARE Administrative Council Meeting in August 2016.

Furman, C. Pavlin, S. Papavasiliou, F. Jones, T. Southeastern Food Hubs: Working Together to Build a Regional Food Economy. Workshop and Report developed for the 3rd Biannual Food Hub Conference Wallace Center March 30- April 1 2016.

Papavasiliou, Faidra and Carrie Furman (2016). A case for domestic field schools: Integrating ethnographic teaching and research in the study of sustainable food systems in Georgia. General Anthropology 23: 1-5.

Munden-Dixon, Kate, Carrie Furman, Julia Gaskin and Kevin Samples (2015). Assisting Small and Mid-Size Farmers to Increase Their Access to Markets: A Case Study of an Extension Program to Facilitate Food Hubs in Georgia. Journal of Extension 53.

Sumner, W. Papavasiliou, F. and Furman, C. Ethnography and Sustainable Agriculture Research: Investigating the Southwest Georgia Project Food Hub. Young Scholar Program Poster presented at the SSARE Administrative Council Meeting in August 2015.

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
Project outcomes:

Objectives/Performance Targets

The objectives of the Food Hubs and the Regional Food System: Refining Our Understanding of Best Practices from Foodsheds to Operations for the initial year were: 1) Meet with members of an Advisory Committee and refine interview guide; 2) Recruit and train graduate assistant; 3) Plan for Ethnographic Field School; 4) Begin IMPLAN analysis of economic impacts; 4) Begin interviewing stakeholders associated with food hubs; 5) Participate in Food Hub Learning Network workshops and conferences

Accomplishments and Milestones:

Research and outreach for this project began in August 2014 upon receipt of initial funding. During the following 3 years: 1) ethnographic research was conducted among case study food hubs and others in the state; 2) IMPLAN analysis was conducted; 3) a field school was developed and executed; 4) a workshop was conducted at a food hub meeting; 6) students were engaged in the research process, and 6) outreach resources and materials were developed. The following is a detailed breakdown on accomplishments and milestones:

Advisory Board participants have been engaged in individual conversations throughout the life of the project, due to time constraints and scheduling. At these meetings we discussed project goals, interview questions, and outlined activities. We incorporated their recommendations into our research interview protocol and researched out to them and sought their expertise before the publication of results.

Undergraduates and Graduate students have contributed to this project. Undergraduate work consisted of two internships and methods research training for eight students (See outcomes below). A graduate student worked closely with researchers during the life of this project. Katherine Munden-Dixon has an extensive background in local food production and marketing in Georgia and is currently seeking a PhD at UC Davis in food hub related studies. Ms. Munden-Dixon’s initial work, beyond proposal development, was to to help with logistics and research during the field school. She continued working with this project as part of the IMPLAN team headed by Dr. Walters of Mississippi State University. A more detailed discussion of that work can be found in the Impacts and Outcomes section below.

An Ethnographic Field School brought provided a UGA graduate student and 5 GSU undergraduates with hands-on research experience. Field School development included: interviews, face-to-face visits, and conference calls with the chosen Food hub in southwest Georgia. These interactions have focused on understanding the specific needs and expectations of the host farmers and organizing the logistical aspects of working in this region. The field school was registered at Georgia State University, the host University, syllabus, course materials were developed, and the course was advertised at the host and local universities. The field school occurred over six weeks during the 2015 summer session. Activities included 1) a one week instruction on methods and discussion of readings related to sustainable agriculture, regional food systems, and anthropological theory; 2) three weeks of fieldwork with farmers and an associated food hub in southwest Georgia; and 3) two weeks of directed data analysis and the presentation of a final research paper.

IMPLAN analysis occurred with a long established Multi-farm CSA that also sells wholesale to restaurants in the Metro-Atlanta region. A survey guide was developed and vetted by the Internal Review Board at the partnering universities. An on-line survey was administered to the CSA customers, of which 12 were completed. Face-to-face economic-based survey was administered among 8 (33%) of the 24 farmers associated with the food hub. And finally two interviews and extended discussions concerning economic impacts and farmer training were completed with food hub managers. See IMPAN publication description found in the Impacts and Outcomes section below.

Social Science/Ethnographic Research consisted of interviews, participant observation, and surveys. These were conducted with food hub stakeholders (see table below) including growers, food hub managers, food hub product buyers, and other supporters of food hubs (e.g., extension agents, NGO representatives, etc.).
• Interviews were conducted primarily in person (one was a phone interview) and lasted 60 to 90 minutes and have been transcribed for content. Interviews with farmers, managers, clients, and activists have greatly informed the findings reported in presentations and publications.
• Participant observation has included four separate activities (beyond that of direct student work). The first pertains to working with a person at their food hub related business for half a day to observe daily activities. The second activity involved partaking in a total of three meetings and conferences where different food hub stakeholders shared advice, best practices, and discussed organizational protocol. A five-question survey (see discussion below) was administered at one of these food hub workshops to identify nascent food hubs in Georgia, obstacles in development, and infrastructural needs. The third included a half-day with a local chef distributing local produce to different associated restaurants. And the fourth consisted of working with the SWGAP during the field school.
• Two on-line surveys were administered. The first survey was associated with a food hub’s clients to gain INPLAN information. It also guided findings concerning client perceptions of food hubs, limitations, and general best practices. The second survey was among food hub type businesses across the state. This survey focused on quantifying the types of farmers food hubs seek out, the specific production associated with and knowledge base of ideal farmers, and obstacles experiences. This latter survey helped inform follow-up interviews with food hub stakeholders and guided findings discussed in two publications that have been submitted and accepted (Furman et al In Press and Papavasiliou and Furman In Press) and one that has recently been submitted for publication.

Interviews Participant Observation Surveys (3)
Growers 20 0 2
Food hub managers 8 3 6
Buyers 17 1 1
Other supporters 2 0 5

While interviews have research out to include a number of operating food hubs in Georgia, research has focused primarily on four food hubs that represent different scales, resources, and geographic proximity of urban centers. To protect identity, these businesses will remain anonymous. These food hubs remain at different stages of development and two are still not fully functioning as a food hub. These hubs also have diverse organizational missions, structures, and grower characteristics. Grower characteristics refer to the type of business relationship the food hub has with the grower and/or the type of farmer they are targeting for their food hub. In some cases the food hubs buy products from a wide variety of independent growers that do not have a specific commitment to the food hub. In other cases the growers are more directly connected to the food hub, having some form of membership and provide regular products. The less established food hubs are still determining their relationship with their growers, but in one case they are specifically targeting limited resource growers for their food hub.

Full years in operation Location of food hub business Business structure Primary market Grower characteristics
FH #1 8 Urban center LLC Restaurants Independent
FH #2 20 Rural LLC Direct to Consumer Member
FH #3 0 Rural NGO Farm to School Limited resource
FH #4 0 Rural ? ? ?

Findings for this research have been and will be published in a number of extension and peer-reviewed publications. A discussion of each of these articles is outlined below in the Outcomes section. The following is a more general account of the findings that have informed these publications. Findings were generated by the mixed method approach discussed above.

Need for a better Food Hub definition. Across all sectors, stakeholders find the term ‘food hub’ to be confusing, even to those who are operating a food hub like businesses. Many feel that the term is too inclusive and therefore does not accurately represent the types of activities they are interested in or currently pursuing. A few have asked for a more detailed definition or the generation of new terms that reflect the diversity of businesses that exist. Attempting to arrive at a definition, which is sufficiently inclusive without being so general as to be inoperable for the purposes of studying, evaluating and supporting food hubs, Fisher et al. propose that “food hubs are, or intend to be, financially viable businesses that demonstrate a significant commitment to place though aggregation and marketing of local food” (2015: 97). Key points that we find need to be considered are the goals of financial viability, a commitment to place as an index of values beyond that financial viability, and the aggregation and marketing (not just distribution) of local food.
Need for increased internal coordination and communication. Across sectors we have also found the need for more stakeholder communication. Farmers and food hub managers (no matter the food hub structure) report that they would benefit from working together to coordinate production to meet the needs of diverse markets. Transparency about pricing and sourcing by the food hub businesses and how this relates to their mission will better ensure the development of lasting relationships with producers and buyers. In addition, across all sectors the facilitation of open communication concerning market saturation and competition could help strengthen the local food networks that are currently forming.

The future, benefits, and drawbacks associated with Food Hubs. Research has revealed both a growing interest in food hub type businesses as well as some drawbacks to these systems. The farmers we interviewed did not rely primarily on food hub sales, but used food hubs as a way to increase income security. The biggest benefit identified, from the farmers’ perspective, is the increase in market diversity a food hub offers. Farmers reported that they appreciated having a reliable place to take surplus products without hassle when their more ‘traditional’ markets (CSA, farmers’ market, or through their own wholesale contacts) failed to absorb the totality of their product. Growers chose to work with food hubs that have a specific set of characteristics, including: sharing the same mission or set of ethics, understanding the value of their product, and marketing the product under the farm name. This final aspect is important, as growers do not what to lose the connection they have established with buyers even when selling though a “middle-man”. Farmers also appreciated a food hub manager that was transparent about how products where priced and where their product was sold. The latter issue reflects a growing concern regarding “green-washing” or when restaurants and other establishments purport to sell farm direct products but my not do so on a regular basis. Finally, food hub location was also a deciding factor for farmers. Farmers reported that, unless a food hub is willing to pick up their products from the farm, the food hub needs to be relatively close to the farm and flexible with drop off times.

Looking at Food Hubs as an integrated system. Recent reports generated for the USDA have shown that farmers who focus on direct to consumer sales have a higher likelihood of staying in business compared to those that use more ‘traditional channels’ to sell their products. While these farms do stay in business longer they tend to grow their business at a much slower rate. Food hubs provide farmers with an important marketing middle ground that can alleviate those pressures that slow growth. National research as well as our studies conducted in Georgia have found that food hubs offer an array of farm services and training, help farmers diversity their markets, smooth market fluctuations, and reduce farmers’ time off-farm. As such, they provide an avenue for farm growth outside of traditional channels and beyond direct marketing. Farmers can move up through different food hub categories to incrementally expand production. For example, a small-scale farmer, with limited wholesale experience would benefit from working with a Multi-farm CSA Food Hub that has flexible consumer demands and provides introductory farmer services. As the farmer becomes more confident with the logistics associated with wholesale markets s/he can expand into other markets of this size or even begin working with more demanding wholesale oriented businesses (including Small and Large-scale food hubs or other broker/distributors). In this scheme, the wholesale learning curve is transformed into incremental steps that a farmer interested in scaling up can navigate. And, more significantly, farmers entering local food sales who have wholesale marketing as part of their long-term business plan can envision a pathway to growth. A more detailed discussion of these conclusions can be found in the Extension Bulletin Furman et. al. (In Press).

Impact and Contributions/Outcomes

The in-depth understanding of food hub construction, organization, and dynamics greatly contributes to the sustainable growth of locally produced foods in Georgia and the greater southeastern US. This project explored cross-stakeholder (farmers, food hub managers, and buyers) dynamics and trained future scholars interested in local food systems through a summer field school focusing on different food hub models in Georgia, internships, and graduate student research participation. Student researchers across these three activities were placed on farms and at food hub centers as workers. The experience contributes to the overall research project by providing a fine-grained understanding of the multiple and complex interactions between food hub stakeholders and their various motivations, goals, adversities and synergies, while also training students in research methods and issues surrounding sustainable food systems.

Data gathered from interviews, surveys, and participant observation indicate the need for sustained communication across all stakeholder groups. To help facilitate communication and the growth of new and emerging businesses this project has developed, is developing, and has participated in a number of outreach activities. These include presentations, academic publications, extension publications, and website content. Farmers will use these resources to help them navigate and think through the process of working with a food hub. Entrepreneurs who wish to start a local food business could use these resources to help them understand the complex network of food hubs in the state and determine where they fit into that puzzle and by extension how they support local growers.

The following is an extended discussion of both practical and theoretical publications:

Published:
• Munden-Dixon, Kate, Carrie Furman, Julia Gaskin and Kevin Samples 2015. Assisting Small and Mid-Size Farmers to Increase Their Access to Markets: A Case Study of an Extension Program to Facilitate Food Hubs in Georgia. Journal of Extension 53.

Munden-Dixon, K. et al published an article in the Journal of Extension 2015. The purpose for this article was to present the development Extension resources on food hubs for Georgia. This work necessitated completing the following steps: 1. Determine the number of currently operating food hubs in Georgia; 2. Identify growers interested in participating in food hubs and their production; and 3. Develop an online resource that connects growers and managers while providing valuable information to those interested in starting these businesses. The article describes the process behind obtaining the data needed to develop an interactive website consisting of a food hub map and resource database. We also described how website use patterns were tracked and how that website has been used by Extension to help potential food hub participants. We conclude with programmatic lessons learned that aim to assist others interested in building a similar resource.

• Papavasiliou, Faidra and Carrie Furman 2016. A case for domestic field schools: Integrating ethnographic teaching and research in the study of sustainable food systems in Georgia. General Anthropology 23: 1-5.

Papavasiliou, Furman publication is based on experiences of project team members running a summer ethnographic field school associated with a nascent food hub in South Georgia. The article analyses the process and importance of introducing anthropology students to food systems research and doing so in a field school setting. The field school provided meaningful results for both research and training. As participant observers, students were able to document fine-grained details about the farmers’ lived experience, relationships and practices that could not have been captured by interview alone. The students also benefited from the training as the experience increased their knowledge of ethnographic methods. Research process and team also benefited greatly from the experience as deeper connections with the community were forged through the close ties students developed with the farming community and organization.

In press:
• Furman, Carrie and Faidra Papavasiliou (In press) Scale and Affect in the Local Food Movement Food, Culture, and Society to be published April 2018.

Furman and Papavasiliou discuss the importance of acknowledging how the local food community and sentiments of the local food movement influence and are driven by value-based local food purchases. Meaning, we explore how ethical or value-based purchasing (flexible product pricing that takes farmer livelihood into account and is the cornerstone of local food sustainability) functions in a particular food hub context in Georgia. We find that building a resilient and sustainable local food system beyond the level of direct markets necessitates illuminating the role these non-economic, value based ideas and sentiments play in economic decision making across the supply chain. The paper argues that, when imagining the future of local food and sustainable agriculture in general and food hub development in particular, practitioners and scholars need to consider the specific nature of the local, local food community; how relationships are forged and codes of conduct are developed. This analysis opens new points of inquiry into emerging opportunities, challenges, and potential cracks in efforts to scale up the local food system.

• Furman, C. Gaskin, J. Papavasiliou, F. Munden-Dixon, K. Walters, L. Kurtz, H. Food Hubs in Georgia: A Potential Market for Small and Mid-Scale Farms. Sent for review to University of Georgia Extension Bulletin.

In Georgia there are many small-scale producers that largely use ecological production practices such as Certified Organic and sell in farmer’s markets or other direct marketing channels. As these direct markets begin to saturate, producers may need to forge a path beyond direct markets to wholesale or institutional markets that want sustainable products. Food hubs may offer a path for these small farms to scale up. There are three overlapping forms of food hubs in Georgia. Each has different markets and thus different requirements for the producers who sell to them. This publication discusses the types of food hubs in Georgia and gives producers guidelines on what form of food hub may work best for them.

In preparation:
• Papavasiliou, F. Furman, C. Local Food in the Middle: Food Hubs and the Quest to Scale Up Local Food in Georgia

What role do food hubs play in further developing the local food system? The food landscape has so far been bifurcated with one side represented by large-scale, industrialized, production supplies mass markets through expansive, impersonal distribution channels and the other, small-scale, diversified, and ostensibly more sustainable production that feeds people within communities, through direct, face-to-face marketplaces. Scaling up local food is a complex issue that must address a middle ground between these two sides. This involves the growth, coordination and servicing of local production and larger markets in ways that support, rather than undermine the values of the local food movement, through aggregation and food hubs. Hub can offer producers the opportunity to envision the possibilities of scale and visualize diverse paths to growth, while keeping with the values of local food. Nevertheless, while our observations indicate that they promote the desired goal of integrating and strengthening the local food system, the realization of this potential should not be assumed as a natural consequence of standard market processes, nor as simply deriving from the shared values and philosophy of local food. Food hub growth and sustainability requires a level of systemic strategic coordination that entails the recognition of problems and challenges, and explicit efforts at transparency, showing where needs, resources and opportunities exist, and highlighting gaps as well as overlaps. In this article we propose a heuristic typology of food hubs in Georgia and show how they assist local farmers to reach larger markets, and forge potential paths for farmers to scale up. Lastly, we address those challenges and potential points of contention that exist so that a strategic coordination can emerge.

• Walters, L, Munden-Dixon K. Furman, C. Papavasiliou, F. Gaskin, J. (proposed authors) (Im)Measurable Impacts of Food Hubs: A case study of how economic models fail and why mixed-methods are needed
Measuring economic impacts of local food entitles has been argued to be critical for securing funding and establishing the efficacy of these new organizations. However, there has been much gnashing of teeth in the world of alternative agriculture around how to measure economic impacts of food hubs. This paper reports on a case study of a food hub in rural Alabama to estimate both its regional economic impact and localized social impacts. Researchers used mixed-methods, involving semi-structured interviews with food hub managers and participating farmers, in conjunction with IMPLAN analysis. Findings revealed no discernible economic impacts, yet, extensive social impacts, particularly for rural, beginning farmers. The food hubs’ activities often resemble a community development project more than a conventional distributor, seen clearly in their successful mission of securing higher margins of profit for farmers, training new farmers, and educating vendors on the need to embed local food pricing in actual costs to farmers, not California commodities. We argue that the failure of IMPLAN to show economic impacts is unsurprising, given that this food hub is both geography situated in a rural area, and engaged in rebuking a dominant market-based economy. Alternative non-market based metrics found in developing countries that align with the goals of the hub and community may offer a path forward. Future work on measuring impacts of food hubs may benefit from adapting the community capitals framework and incorporating livelihood satisfaction metrics.
Student training and experience
This project has offered a number of students training in both food systems research and ethnographic methods. Both graduate and undergraduate students have benefited from this project.

1) Ethnographic methods training primarily in the form of interview development and transcription was available to eight students due to funds from this grant. Students were given first hand experience transcribing interviews (a skill needed for Anthropology Graduate Work) and presenting findings to a PI in the form of a detailed report.

2) Ethnographic Summer field school was developed as part of this project that training students in ethnographic methods, introduced them to issues concerning the development of food hubs in particular and Georgia-based food systems in general, and experience working in rural communities with limited resource farmers (see Papavasiliou and Furman 2016). The Summer Field School was conducted in Albany Georgia and was administered by Georgia State during the Summer term. A six-week summer course that focused on social, cultural, economic aspects of sustainable, local food systems was developed to provide students methodological and theoretical training. The initial two weeks of class focused on lectures and instructors guided students to develop their own research questions and protocols. During weeks 3-5 students worked on farms and directly with food hub farmers. While working ‘as farmers’ students were required to keep notes, conduct interviews for the purpose of researching their proposed research project. The final two weeks consisted of report write-up and formal presentations. We partnered with the Southwest Georgia Project (SWGAP) in Albany Georgia. The SWGAP is a civil rights, non-profit organization that has been working with underserved farmers in Southwest Georgia since 1961. Among their many projects they are in the processes of developing a regional food hub aimed to increase farmer standards of living and provide local communities with increased access to fresh produce. Students worked with the SWGAP to study the operational side of the food hub and were each assigned a partner farmer to investigate how farmers work within a food hub. Four UGA and GSU students, three undergraduate and one graduate, attended the Food Hub field school in the summer of 2015. Three of the students had social science backgrounds and participated to gain a better understanding of the greater agricultural system and farm life in the southeastern US. The other student was part of an environmental science program and wanted to learn social science methodologies to bring the human dimension into her research. The farmers they were paired with were African American small-scale producers that farmed approximately 2-4 acres of land for direct and food hub sales. After the two weeks of literature review and research protocol development, students moved to Albany and worked with farmers in planting, harvesting, processing, and sales. They also attended workshops with the SWGAP and interviewed partner farmers, SWGAP staff, and other farmers in the community. These data were transcribed, analyzed, and reported upon during the final week of the course.

3) The James Harrison Hill, Sr. Young Scholar Enhancement (YSE) Grant
We received two undergraduate YSE grants 2015 and 2016. In 2015 Blake Sumner was awarded the YSE grant. With these funds, he was able to afford the field school, conduct interviews with SWGAP farmers and staff as well as assist in literature reviews concerning food hub research and anthropology. His participation greatly improved our understanding of food hub development. The work of Mr. Sumner was showcased in a poster titled Ethnography and Sustainable Agriculture Research: Investigating the Southwest Georgia Project Food Hub. Young Scholar Program Poster presented at the SSARE Administrative Council Meeting in August 2015.

In 2016 Carlos Cisneros was awarded an YSE through our grant. He began his work, interning with the Turnip Truck where he helped staff record producer interviews and testimonials. He also conducted participant observation at Turnip Truck acting as a part-time employee. There he delivered product to restaurants, received product from farmers, and helped package product for delivery. Though this connection with Turnip Truck he also started to work on two farms (Crystal Organics and Burge Farm) and at farmers’ markets in the area to gain a broader understanding of farm operations and gained first hand knowledge of the work that goes into preparing produce for sale. His findings contributed to the research conducted by Dr. Furman and Dr. Papavasiliou. It also culminated in a poster titled Food hubs growing strong: Using ethnography to facilitate communication in food hub development. Young Scholar Program Poster presented at the SSARE Administrative Council Meeting in August 2016. Mr. Cisneros also presented his work at the Georgia State Undergraduate Research Conference (GSURC) titled Atlanta Food Hubs: A growing community on April 12, 2017. He won a GSURC Sustainability Award for this work and presentation.

4) Graduate Student Training
Kate Munden Dixon is a PhD graduate student at UC Davis and was instrumental in developing the initial ideas for this project. Though she moved to UC Davis, we have continued to engagement her with the writing and research associated with this grant. In general, Ms. Munden Dixon assisted in crafting the project during her time as SARE Program Assistant at UGA. During the project she was hired to lead the field school and assist in data collection, analysis, and writing. Participation in the project has offered her an invaluable opportunity to be part of an interdisciplinary, multi-state team of researchers. Her dissertation research focus and methodologies shifted, partially as a result of her experiences on this project and conversations with team members. The opportunity to work closely with anthropologists, an agricultural economist, geographer and a soil scientist allowed her to connect these often silo-based disciplines into a transdisciplinary framework. Ms. Munden Dixon’s research now incorporates work from ecology and social science using mixed-methods, with an intentional education and outreach with stakeholders (first-generation ranchers in California). She also has stated that connection with the project, mentorship of Dr. Furman, and direct research experience was a key piece in her successful award of a Western SARE graduate student grant in 2017

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.