Sierra Raby Rose Hills
Implications of Landscape Features for Agroecological Strategies on Urban Farms
The U.S. food system is plagued by food insecurity, which disproportionately affects poor communities and communities of color. Urban agriculture can help remake food systems and mitigate food insecurity by providing opportunities to grow local, nutritious food. However, urban farms often struggle with pest management, and previous survey research on San Francisco Bay Area urban farms indicates that most farms experienced crop losses due to herbivorous insects. Developing low-input agroecological pest management practices for urban environments is vital and these strategies must consider the unique conditions of urban agroecosystems. As of now, urban habitat fragmentation and other off farm-characteristics related to urban agroecosystems have not been explored in depth. Our group is mapping urban agriculture sites and analyzing off-farm characteristics to identify landscape features that may promote pest control and ecosystem services while minimizing pesticide use. Additionally, I will correlate farm location and landscape trends with food insecurity and food deserts. Our maps and analyses aim to evaluate farm relevance to fighting food insecurity and help farmers plan functionally biodiverse landscapes to improve pest management.