Sustainable agriculture in Virginia and North Carolina: a multi-state assessment of the economic, social and political context

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $155,481.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jonah Fogel
University of Virginia

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, display, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, feasibility study
  • Sustainable Communities: community planning, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, local and regional food systems, public policy, urban/rural integration, social capital, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    This project evaluates suitability of the “context” of sustainable agriculture in Virginia and North Carolina. Context refers to the public policies, economic conditions, and social factors that affect the development and continuance of sustainable agriculture within a 'community food system' setting. A suitability model of context will be developed using a geographic information system (GIS) through the following methods: 1) a literature review and case study meta-analysis, and 2) study region focus groups. The GIS model will be used to generate outreach materials for Extension educators assisting producers and policy makers managing the challenges associated with the adoption of sustainable agriculture within community food systems across Virginia and North Carolina. It is anticipated that prescriptive conditions may be developed through model validation and extrapolated to others regions in the U.S.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Examine literature through a case study meta-analysis of nationally recognized community food systems that support sustainable agriculture. The case study meta-analysis will be used for two purposes: 1) for the identification of common variables that characterize the context(s) within which community food systems are able to thrive, and 2) provide a succinct definition of sustainable agriculture for the purposes of this study. Ground truth meta-analysis data and co-define model variables. Six case studies will be conducted within the Virginia and North Carolina study region. Study communities will be identified by Extension faculty as exemplary community food systems in the study area. A cross section of local actors from within the case study communities (e.g. farmers, market managers, consumers) will be asked to participate in a local focus group to review meta-analysis data, and provide first hand experiences to guide model variable selection. Create a suitability model using a geographic information system (GIS) to evaluate the different economic, political, cultural and social variables that support community food systems across Virginia and North Carolina. Model validation and hypothesis testing are included within this objective. Develop and deliver outreach and training materials to educate extension agents, elected officials, and the public about community food systems, and how to assess its development potential in their locale.
    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.