Many peri-urban regions in the western US are in a state of acute juxtaposition between formerly rural agricultural communities and growing, modern urban centers. Urbanization challenges agricultural viability through land use pressures and a slow unraveling of historically land-based economies and culture. These agricultural circumstances can be very destabilizing, and highlight the need for agriculture to be efficient, well-informed, current, culturally networked, and unafraid to evolve and diversify. Current trends in are giving rise to unprecedented opportunities for an agricultural renaissance and growth of a diversified, multi-tiered agricultural economy that supports 1) agricultural enterprises on a wide range of scales 2) innovative value-added market structures and 3) preservation of a land-based culture that values farming and food.
We propose an educational initiative focused on strategies for sustaining agricultural viability in regions experiencing acute urbanization and land use pressure. The project initiative focuses on developing a Peri-urban Agriculture Network of producers and university, private, government, and non-profit stakeholder entities working in agriculture, community, and economic development. Key Network components are 1) an annual conference focused on information exchange and Network growth and 2) a website serving as a focal point for Network activities, aggregated information, and resources. Results from a myriad of relevant SARE projects will be highlighted in the project deliverables and will inform the project trajectory. Importantly, the Network will be developed to be ongoing, expandable, adaptable, evolving platform to move agriculture forward as a vital, contemporary economic enterprise and occupation in the peri-urban context with nationwide impact.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Assemble an extended Advisory Team for the Peri-urban Agriculture Network and Conference – November 2019-January 2020
- Determine and establish an appropriate structure for the Network – November 2019-March 2020
- Determine select SARE projects and products to be highlighted within Network resources and conference – November 2019- November 2020
- Development and establishment of a Network website – September 2020-April 2021
- Development and establishment of a Network conference – September 2020-March 2021
- Post-conference assessment of needs for appropriate Network evolution – March 2021-April 2021
- Development of a post-project funding transition plan for the Network – September 2020-April 2021