2021 journal article
Unearthing the entangled roots of urban agriculture
Agriculture and Human Values, 38(1), 205–220.
Abstract This study examines urban agriculture (UA) in Sacramento, California (USA), the nation's self-branded “Farm-to-Fork Capital,” in order to highlight UA’s distinct yet entangled roots. The study is based on 24 interviews with a diverse array of UA leaders, conducted as part of a five-year transdisciplinary study of UA in Sacramento. In it, we unearth three primary “taproots” of UA projects, each with its own historical legacies, normative visions, and racial dynamics. In particular, we examine UA projects with “justice taproots,” “health taproots,” and “market taproots.” We use this analysis to understand how different kinds of UA projects are embedded in racial capitalism in ways that transform relationships between people, the city, and food systems. Unearthing these entangled roots helps illuminate UA’s underlying politics, showing how these roots grow in both competitive and symbiotic ways within the soil matrix of racial capitalism. We argue that these roots interact differently with racial capitalism, creating disparities in their growth trajectories. In particular, UA projects associated with the justice taproot are historically underrepresented and undervalued. However, we argue that there are some prospects for building alliances between the UA movement’s three roots, and that these are both promising and problematic.