Urban Agriculture and Food Systems

Instructor Name: 
Nathan McClintock
Course Description: 

In this Capstone, we will critically examine the limits and possibilities of urban agriculture’s contribution to the food system. The course is both reading-intensive/discussion-driven and hands-on. Our community partner is the Growing Gardens, an organization establishing urban gardens for low-income residents throughout Portland. Through this year's final Capstone project (see below), we will help collect survey data and stories from Growing Gardens project participants. The course will meet twice a week (MW, 2 to 3:50 in 270 URBN). During the first half of class, students will discuss readings seminar-style and hear from guest speakers involved in Portland’s urban agriculture movement. We will devote the second half to work on the Capstone project, and will visit one or two gardens in Portland, where where we will discuss the basics of sustainable food production while getting our hands dirty. Students will also need to complete 10 additional volunteer hours at a garden outside of class.

Instructor:  Nathan McClintock, PhD, Assistant Professor, Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning, n.mcclintock@pdx.edu

Project Description: 

The following is a description of last year's project. A new description will be coming soon, once we've finalized the scope of work with this year's partner, Growing Gardens.

Developed through conversations between the instructor and members of the Urban Farm Collective (UFC), this Capstone project is intended to serve both students—by providing them with an opportunity to engage with the UFC’s efforts and to develop research skills—and the UFC—by providing it with materials and support to help it move towards its mission to bring neighbors together, transform vacant lots and yards into productive gardens, and contribute to community food security. The project will therefore ultimately benefit the Portland communities in which the UFC works by identifying the ways in which the UFC can better serve them.

Over the course of the Spring 2014 capstone, students will help develop a "food justice framework" for the UFC that will help it engage more explicitly with issues of access and equity and engage with a more diverse network of community members. The project, which builds on needs identified over the past two years, will lay the groundwork for the launch of a food justice working group within the UFC. Capstone teams will:

  • Identify “best-practices” used by other urban agriculture organizations engaged in food justice
  • Compile anti-oppression training materials and curricula
  • Create an asset map of organizations and groups working with communities of color in the UFC’s catchment zone who UFC might partner with
  • Design an outreach and engagement plan for the UFC, including identifying strategies for alliance-building between the UFC and local organizations engaged in equity work
  • Develop a portfolio of outreach materials for the UFC in English and Spanish, including flyers and outreach script in English and Spanish