Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Char Miller

Reader 2

Heather Williams

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Rights Information

© 2016 Maia Z. Welbel


Efforts to maintain a relationship to food pathways have been consistent throughout U.S. history despite the general evolution towards an increasingly industrialized food system. Urban agriculture serves as a means of reclaiming and furthering knowledge of where food comes from while also addressing larger social, economic, and environmental goals. This has been demonstrated in Chicago where urban farmers have worked to improve food access, increase employment, and revitalize communities all across the city. For many years, federal policies have promoted maximum production of commodity crops and kept supermarket prices low, allowing the government to ignore the impacts these policies are having on local economies, the environment, and public health. State and municipal policies have been similarly unsympathetic to any efforts to subvert the industrial food system. However, the individuals and organizations working to promote urban agriculture in Chicago demonstrate how community activism can break through these obstacles, and create fertile ground for the movement to grow. Chicago is recognized as a national leader in the urban agriculture movement, and the city is becoming an increasingly accommodating place for urban agriculture to thrive. In this thesis I describe the progress some of these urban farmers have made in Chicago, and emphasize how community engagement and support has played a crucial role in achieving this progress; I also discuss obstacles that have prevented the movement from attaining certain goals; and explore the implications of what it would mean for agriculture to change the landscape of a city.