While numerous studies have demonstrated the ways in which urban agriculture can contribute to a city’s social, health, and economic well-being, numerous practical and policy barriers exist in Memphis, preventing urban agriculture from reaching its full potential. The Food Landscape Analysis is designed to systematically research and propose solutions to these barriers. The project goals were:
- Enhance the vitality and quality of life in neighborhoods throughout Memphis and Shelby County by connecting communities to information and resources about urban gardening and farming
- Improve public awareness of vacant land reuse through urban gardening and farming
- Increase community access to urban agriculture opportunities
In pursuing these goals, the Food Advisory Council (FAC) for Memphis and Shelby County and GrowMemphis undertook two major projects: the development of a food landscape map and a food landscape analysis. The food landscape map (map.growmemphis.org) is designed to capture information about community gardens and urban farms currently operating in the city of Memphis. Not only did the FAC map these projects, but the map was designed to be crowd-sourced, meaning any group or individual participating in urban agriculture in Memphis can add or remove information regarding their own projects. The map also includes a number of statistical overlays (including USDA food desert maps and census tract data) so that those individuals and organizations engaged in urban agriculture could have ready access to this data to better understand the contexts in which they work.
In addition to comprehensively mapping the current landscape of urban agriculture in Memphis and Shelby County, the FAC worked with Hyphen Market Solutions to conduct a series of focus groups with practitioners and other key stakeholders in the local urban agriculture landscape in order to pinpoint the primary public policy barriers to the expansion of urban agriculture locally. In pursuing this goal, Hyphen studied the areas of divergence and alignment regarding different core aspects of urban agriculture, such as land, water, soil, access to funding, and people. The following three areas were identified for further consideration by GrowMemphis: access to land, access to water, and soil quality.