Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
A growing interest in urban food production has prompted many North American cities to revise their municipal policies regarding agricultural activities. In March 2011, the City Council of Burlington, VT, created the Urban Agriculture Task Force to investigate and recommend policies to provide city officials with tools to effectively govern urban agriculture. In coordination with the Task Force as a community partner, I used a governance framework and participatory action research (PAR) to analyze: (1) the needs of local stakeholders, including urban agriculture practitioners, the general Burlington community, and government officials; (2) the policy tools available to the City of Burlington, including the direct provision of services, regulation, public information, and partnerships with other organizations; (3) the actors and relationships present in Burlington’s urban agriculture governance network; and (4) policy approaches used in other cities. Based on this analysis, over 50 policy recommendations were developed for the City of Burlington, ranging from ordinance revisions to the development of new urban agriculture initiatives. Key findings include that (1) a balance must be struck between stakeholder needs (e.g. practitioners desire that regulations be minimal, while municipal officials need measurable standards to ease implementation); (2) a legal basis for governing some aspects of urban agriculture, such as the humane treatment of livestock, is needed, but other aspects, such as managing neighbor conflicts or connecting people to available land, are not easily regulated and require innovative programming; and (3) the City has an opportunity to partner with other organizations that are better suited to provide technical expertise to practitioners. These recommendations lay the groundwork for the City to better govern and support current and future urban agriculture activities.
Number of Pages
Nihart, Alison, "Developing a Cohesive Urban Agriculture Policy for Burlington, VT" (2013). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 761.