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Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

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This paper examines channels of culturally relevant food production on the urban farm. It further investigates the connection between this production and the shaping of sovereign foodways, as well as how urban farm models provide space and resources for place-making practices and autonomous identity-shaping. This thesis shifts away from the notion of access to culturally relevant food and instead focuses on the multi-fold context that any food item takes on through its production, distribution, and consumption. This allows for a nuanced understanding of the role that culturally relevant food can play in immigrant foodways. Through case-studies at three urban farms in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, which utilize a qualitative approach of interviews with farm staff and community members, this paper uncovers how urban farms are managed in order to produce culturally relevant food and how this production influences community members’ foodways. This research demonstrates that urban farming shapes sovereign foodways, creates space for place-making, and resources autonomous identity-shaping. In allowing people to take ownership of and maintain agency in their food systems, define their surroundings, and have access to food that meets their cultural needs and desires, urban farms operate beyond the bounds of neoliberal ideology and uphold cultural valuations of food, making them effective and celebrated community spaces that contribute to stronger, just food systems. Ultimately, this paper makes a substantive statement on the significance of cultural valuations of food and the importance of food and its context to human lives.