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Emergy of an Urban Food Production System: a Case Study of Urban Agriculture in Detroit, Michigan
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The ability to sustain present needs while ensuring the needs of future generations is a surmounting challenge. One pressing challenge is that of meeting the current and future demand for food. In addition, with higher environmental impacts, cities as densely inhabited regions with limited space are increasingly important centers of attention. Accordingly, this study analyzes the sustainability and renewability of urban agriculture and its ability to contribute to an urban food system using a Detroit urban farm as an example of an urban food production system. Using a participatory approach for data collection and emergy synthesis to evaluate the urban farm’s performance, the results show that food production is largely based on organic methods. When examining the farms potential of sustaining Detroiters’ vegetable and fruit consumption, the results suggest that the current vegetable demand could be met if farms similar to the one analyzed in this study are increased. However, with lower quantities of fruit produced, the results indicate that it is not likely to meet the current fruit demand without changes in production. Yet, based on the emergy synthesis, the urban farm is not sustainable due to its large reliance on imported resources. Therefore, three alternative scenarios are developed where the initial study is scenario one. Scenario two includes the resources needed to support chickens and egg production, which reveals it is less sustainable than the initial system or scenario one (no chicken inputs). The other additional two scenarios, scenarios three and four, expand the system boundaries past that of the urban farm by including the renewable fraction of imported inputs and by hypothetically expanding the window of attention to the city scale, respectively. The third scenario slightly increases the renewability and sustainability. Yet hypothetically examining the system from the city scale in scenario four, the results show that a quarter of the resources inputs are renewable. However, for the sustainable development of future urban food systems, emergy suggests that more of these resources need to be local renewable resource inputs. To improve the viability of urban agriculture as an alternative and more sustainable food system, it is suggested that more feedbacks and storages need to be generated within the urban farm system as well as expanded to produce food for the city’s inhabitants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 44
Series
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 2017/35
Keywords [en]
urban agriculture, emergy, sustainable development, sustainability, Detroit
National Category
Natural Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-331405OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-331405DiVA, id: diva2:1149251
Subject / course
Sustainable development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
Presentation
2017-09-05, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 16:47 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-10-24 Created: 2017-10-13 Last updated: 2017-10-24Bibliographically approved

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MSD Thesis(29704 kB)138 downloads
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