Our project titled "Enhancing sustainable pollination on urban farms using native plant conservation strips and outreach" will use research methods to explore pollinator biodiversity and management to enhance social, economic and environmental sustainability of urban farms in the North Central Region. We will emphasize farmer-driven research in sustainable agriculture by involving urban farmers in this research from beginning to end. We will utilize a farmer advisory panel, community contacts, farmer interviews and surveys to evaluate research methods and outreach throughout this project. The research will explore how pollination services are being affected by urbanization and how farmers can manage pollinators in these systems to enhance these ecosystem services. Urbanization has dramatically increased worldwide, with half of the global population currently residing in cities. Despite the lack of green space, cities have the potential to be hubs of agricultural production. Sustainable urban agriculture has been vital to increasing food security by giving access to fresh unprocessed food in underserved communities. Urban gardens can also enhance community-building and environmental stewardship. While urban agriculture has many benefits, concerns have arisen about its impact on ecosystem functioning and pollinator biodiversity. Many crops grown in urban agriculture are pollinator-dependent but little is known about urban pollinator communities. It is also important to understand how educational tools and outreach can influence farmer perceptions of best pollinator management methods. One of the most effective and accessible pollinator management tools used in sustainable agriculture is native plant conservation strips surrounding crop fields that consist of native plant species known to attract bee species. This project will also inform USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) by investigating how small-scale urban sustainable agriculture can adapt to implement conservation plans involving native pollinator management. Our findings will also provide information to the Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovation Production by giving further recommendations for supporting sustainable urban agriculture. In this project, we propose surveying and comparing bee communities in urban gardens when native plant conservation strips are implemented. This project will result in two primary outcomes: 1) we will learn about the importance of improving urban habitat for pollinators and, 2) urban farmers will gain educational resources to support making pollinator management decisions through outreach. These outcomes will enhance the future of sustainable urban agriculture by deepening our understanding of pollinators on urban farms and by giving farmers educational resources and experience with pollinator management.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: Improve in-farm habitat for pollinators by utilizing native plant conservation strips on urban farms.
Learning Outcome 1: We will learn how floral resources can support pollinators and resulting crop pollination.
Action Outcome 1: Urban farmers will attend workshops and be given assistance in implementing native plant conservation strips on their farms.
Objective 2: Understand urban farmer perceptions and decision-making tools used for making pollinator management decisions.
Learning Outcome 2: Urban farmers will gain educational resources to guide decision-making for pollinator management.
Action Outcome 2: Urban farmers will make informed decisions when considering pollinator management.