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CONCLUSION julie c. dawson and alfonso morales All the chapters in this volume relate urban agriculture to urban food systems and vice versa, and in doing so they illustrate the general principles cutting across food systems issues. Our purpose has been to provide concepts and examples of urban food production but also to show how its many activities are interwoven with the activities of distinct, often conflicting but possibly allied, organizations. Identifying opportunities for cooperation is important, but cooperation is impossible without taking the time to relate different ways of talking and thinking about those activities. What seems simple often is not, and it takes firm and flexible relationships to make identifying and achieving common goals possible. Before going on to describe some important new questions for further research, we believe it essential to remember that not everything can be reduced to statistics or metrics. Case studies show in detail what is difficult to capture in survey methods. While economic value has always played a role in food system innovation, other variables such as human values and aspirations to build healthy, equitable, and thriving communities drive experimentation in urban agriculture. For us, the strength of the case studies presented here is to show in detail many of the values people hold in their activities, and how they attempt to put these values into action. The case studies also show 286 Conclusion how those values come into conflict with regulatory frameworks and with different practices and values held by others. We hope this book provides examples that stimulate new ideas, discussion, and action toward building context sensitive partnerships among organizations that might otherwise see each other as competing. We look forward to seeing many more successful examples of urban agriculture in practice emerge. some thoughts about future research In keeping with the organization of the book, we offer here some thoughts about future directions for research on the subject of urban agriculture and how it connects with and relates to other elements of the food system. In doing so, we offer a few guiding principles for thinking about research on this topic. First, we must account for different perspectives among individuals practicing urban-agriculture activities. Demographic differences, along with experience, make for different points of entry and potentially different motivations and goals that should be considered. However, differing demographic backgrounds do not necessarily imply that people will divide along these lines. While it is not possible to represent absolutely every perspective in a volume such as this, we hope these examples have shown how people with very different backgrounds can unite around common goals or values. Second, we think it important to contemplate different organizational perspectives , including those of government, community-based organizations, and profit-oriented organizations. Each of these organizations has its distinct interests, roles, and time horizons. Each directs its efforts toward relationships of different kinds. For us, again, understanding the dissimilarities is not as important as reasoning together about points of connection in these different perspectives. With respect to both individual and organizational differences, a researcher will take time to consider whether and how different participants in the activity of interest will be able to identify and understand similarities with other participants. Third, those interested in urban agriculture must take care to understand regulatory conflicts and opportunities associated with different activities. Law, policy, and regulation all influence urban food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and the transformation of waste into produc- Conclusion 287 tive inputs. The perspectives held by mayors or other city officials, those of county or state officials, and those of other units of government may clash, and reconciling these distinct perspectives in order to produce law and policy generative of economic and social activity and supportive of public health is vitally important. With these three guiding principles in mind, useful for interested scholars or community practitioners, we now turn to some suggestions for research we think would be useful to the field of urban agriculture. History and community significance How much do we know about the history of food production in cities? We have an understanding of how marketplaces were developed in conjunction with cities, and for many of the same purposes, large-scale food production is now returning to cities. However, as the historians in this book have identified, there is much to learn about the history of food production and how that history has influenced law and policy and urban-agriculture activities today. An understanding of the history, especially of how urban agriculture...


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