Increasing Access to Food in Urban Agroecosystems

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Increasing Access to Food in Urban Agroecosystems – Food Security, Foraging, and Urban Green Space Management in an Era of Changing Climates

featuring Marla Emery, Ph.D., USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

hosted by Forest Service International Programs

In Syracuse, New York, Somali Bantu gardeners harvest food from their plots and from the vacant lot nearby. Gingkos planted as street trees in Philadelphia attract foragers seeking ingredients for a special soup made at lunar New Year…During this lunch-time webinar, Dr. Marla Emery will discuss results from her research on the role of urban green space in providing food, resilience for climate change adaptation, and sustaining cultures. Hundreds of plant and mushroom species are foraged from city green spaces that run the gamut from formal parks to stoop yards and street medians. Foraging is a motivation for exercise and gives purpose to outings. It also provides fresh produce at no cost for urbanites that often live in food deserts. However, there may also be human health risks associated with contaminated soils and misidentification of species. Further, the diversity of land ownerships makes it difficult to negotiate access and know what rules do and do not apply. Understanding urban foraging suggests opportunities for new urban green space design and governance to increase food security and resilience for city residents.

About Our Speaker

Marla R. Emery, Ph.D. is Research Geographer with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Burlington, Vermont, where her research examines the role of forests in providing food and sustaining cultures across a wildland-urban gradient.  Dr. Emery received a Ph.D. in Geography from Rutgers University.  She was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Mexican Yucatan and also has conducted research in Scotland and Mongolia. In addition, she is National Coordinator for US Forest Service R&D’s program of research on tribes and climate change. Dr. Emery’s collaboration with US Forest Service International Programs includes work in Mongolia and Mexico.  She was part of a technical team examining community-based natural resource management where she focused on gender equity and governance structures. She presented “A Framework for Analysis of Social Safeguards in Community-based Forest Monitoring” at a meeting on community-based forest monitoring in the context of national participation in REDD+. This analytical framework is being piloted in a forest monitoring project in Oaxaca. Dr. Emery is the author of more than 50 scientific reports and journal articles and has lectured at conferences and universities in North American, Europe, and Asia.  She is fluent in Spanish and French.

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Archived Video:

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Supporting Material:

Contact Information:

Marla Emery, Ph.D.
Research Geographer
U.S. Forest Service
Northern Research Station
Aiken Center, Room 303E;
81 Carrigan Drive
Burlington, VT 05405

Phone: 802-656-1720

Documents and Files:


Other Resources:

Northern Research Station
United States Department of Agriculture
USDA Forest Service


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