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Farm-to-College Programs: Relocalizaton, Sustainable Development, and Ecological and Social Sustainability

  • Author(s): Wallace, Linda L.
  • Advisor(s): Goldfrank, Walter
  • et al.
Abstract

Abstract

FARM-TO-COLLEGE PROGRAMS: RELOCALIZATION, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, AND ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

Linda Wallace

Identifying ways of achieving sustainable development has become a worldwide concern. Farm-to-college programs are thought to promote sustainable development, but the extent to which they fit the characteristics of sustainable development (economically viable, promoting social and economic equity, and enhancing environmental health) is unknown. Using data collected primarily from semi-structured phone interviews with farm-to-college program managers and case studies to answer this question, this dissertation examines the extent to which farm-to-college programs support sustainable development, in the form of sustainable agriculture and relocalization (local food), through their purchasing practices. The study found that a majority of the farm-to-college programs included in the interviews largely fit the characteristics of relocalization used as indicators, including 1) purchase of locally produced farm products, 2) purchase of farm products from small farmers, and 3) direct relationships with the local farmers from whom they purchase. The study also found that in general the programs poorly fit many of the characteristics used as indicators of sustainable development, which included 1) purchase of sustainably produced food and food produced under safe and fair working conditions (“socially just” food); 2) inclusion of criteria to distinguish sustainably produced food and “socially just” food; 3) significant purchases of sustainably produced and “socially just” food; and 4) inclusion of waste reduction measures. Most programs fit the characteristics of environmental sustainability to a greater degree than they fit the characteristics of social sustainability. However, the extent to which the programs fit the characteristics of sustainable development and relocation combined was satisfactory, indicating that farm-to-college programs are a potential way to promote sustainable development.

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