MDP faculty and alumni work on greening food deserts

July 14, 2017


MDP faculty and alumni work on greening the food deserts of Tucson, Arizona

Arizona MDP professor Dr. Stephanie Buechler, along with her colleague in the School of Geography and Development Dr. Daoqin Tong, are working with MDP alumni Ashley Erbe and Chloe Hein on a community-based research project examining food security called “Greening the Food Deserts of Tucson, Arizona.” The project uses the city of Tucson as a case study integrating dimensions of social justice and environmental sustainability into applied research on food access. With a quarter of the Tucson population living below the poverty line, this study was created to improve the capacity of nongovernmental and governmental agencies to meet the needs of those at increased risk of food insecurity. Specifically, the project focuses on low-income, food desert regions with an emphasis on handicapped adults, women, the elderly and recent migrants.

Community partners on this project include the Community Gardens of Tucson (CGT), Compass Affordable Housing, and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona as well as the e-network Tucson Backyard Gardening. In coordination with these community partners, and by means of direct research with gardeners, the project assists in setting up a network of organizations working with low-income populations in food deserts and identifies existing barriers in meeting the social, economic and technical needs of the gardeners. The project also helps advance water conservation and the planting of native plants around garden plots to promote the creation of green spaces that improve the health of human and non-human species within a warming region.

The research team has recently published a policy brief titled "Benefits and Barriers to Low-Income Populations Participation in Urban Agriculture" summarizing some of their findings. You can download the policy brief and learn more about the project on the website, here: Greening Food Deserts

Research team: Stephanie Buechler, Daoqin Tong, Ashley Erbe, Chloe Hein, Xuanxiao Wang, Jaclyn Mendelson and Emily Marderness

Funded by: Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice