The purpose of this study was to take a critical snapshot of Cleveland, Ohio's urban agriculture movement using a sustainable development lens. Twenty-one representatives of a variety of urban agriculture projects (including community gardens, market farms, non-profits, vineyards, and orchards) participated by filling out a written survey, being interviewed by the researcher, and providing a tour of their project's site. Most of these projects started in 2010 or later. Trends across all projects were first analyzed according to a traditional sustainability framework, finding that Cleveland's urban agriculture scored well environmentally, poorly economically, and mixed socially. However, the traditional sustainability framework oversimplified or excluded some important components of what it means to be sustainable, which is why the use of a more holistic sustainable development framework that heightens the importance of justice (equitable distribution of resources) and democracy (inclusive, grassroots procedures) was also used. These measures prove to be far more important to urban agriculture participants, who contest traditional sustainability metrics and recast the goals of their projects in terms of food justice and community empowerment. Their responses reveal a more complex, critical, and racially aware strain to urban agriculture that has little to do with "going green" or city beautification. Urban agriculture ends up having a lot more to do with people than plants.


Kammer, Charles

Second Advisor

Mariola, Matthew


Religious Studies




urban agriculture, sustainable development

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar

Included in

Religion Commons



© Copyright 2013 Erika Takeo