Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Ernesto Mendez


Case studies from Cuba's Urban and Peri-Urban agriculture (UPA) revolution show that urban growing can fuel locally driven production of essential foods with minimal inputs, creating unprecedented opportunities for community food sovereignty. The fact that Cuba produces 60-70% of its vegetable needs on 25% of the land shows that the barriers that UPA faces are more sociopolitical than agronomic. As an agricultural hub with an abundance of rural land within close proximity of the city, the need for UPA in Burlington, VT may not be as readily apparent. When compared to nearby small vegetable growers through the lens of a typical agronomic analysis, UPA nearly always comes out at a disadvantage. Yet community gardens and urban growers are multiplying in the small city. Research suggests this boom is owed to numerous multi-functional benefits provided by community gardens, including the potential for UPA to allow communities who may otherwise have limited agency in food choice with an opportunity to access culturally preferenced produce. However, while extensive evidence identifies the social benefits of community gardens, these results remain disparate from the economic analyses that most often find their ways into the hands of decision makers.

This research proposes a valuation metric called Crop Value Index (CVI), and uses it to evaluate which crops and management techniques best take advantage of limited urban space in Burlington community gardens. This tool ranks crops by their ability to save gardeners money or profit and by their perceived cultural value by the gardener, and combines the two to identify which crops are the most successful in producing overall value. Through demonstrating the high functionality of UPA in the production of certain crops, CVI contributes to findings that indicate that UPA may be better able to serve niche community food needs than commercial growers, while simultaneously providing urban growers with food security and creating food sovereignty and food justice.



Number of Pages

170 p.

Included in

Agriculture Commons