KINGSTON, RI – John Taylor, professor of agroecology at the University of Rhode Island, has received a grant to fund a project to collaborate on a food systems research project at URI.
The $973,479 award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is one of 12 funded through the Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education and Extension Initiative. The office’s $9.4 million grant is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s investment in urban agriculture, funding research to address critical issues in urban, rural, and emerging agricultural systems.
The project will bring together Taylor’s research with immigrant farmers and ranchers in Rhode Island, Julie Keller’s work on farming with diverse communities, Melva Treviño Peña’s work with immigrant fishermen , and Patrick Baur’s work on food security and urban agriculture.
Farming and agriculture in the urban area were the focus of Taylor’s research. He received his Ph.D. in plant science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he conducted research on urban agriculture in Chicago. It designs urban food in the middle of the city, from gardens in backyards and vacant lots to urban farms.
Although a permanent part of urban life, urban agriculture has received increasing attention in the United States, as a strategy for economic growth, increased food security and access and fighting obesity and diabetes.
Food reform is about improving access to healthy and affordable food for low-income communities and communities. It seeks to ensure that the needs and issues of where, what, and how food is grown, obtained, distributed, and transported are shared equally.
Many communities in metropolitan areas, especially in Rhode Island’s largest city, do not have access to fresh food or grocery stores – a condition known as living in a ” food desert.” Other diverse communities are surrounded by “food malls,” places that have a lot of processed foods, such as fast food and grocery stores, with few healthy options.
One solution to this environmental balance problem is to encourage the growth of local food.
The development of policies and programs should be required as a first step in the proper mapping of existing urban agricultural sites, according to Taylor. He hopes to provide such an example.
Taylor and colleagues at URI, the University of Maryland, and the University of the District of Columbia will soon begin mapping the food supply networks of immigrant communities and communities of color. in three East Coast cities – Providence, Baltimore, and Washington, DC – be sure to check out these sites.
He hopes that this transdisciplinary research will gather new information about other food supply chains in the Northeast, assess their impact on food system outcomes, and identify opportunities. for policy support.
City-by-city plantings and coastal fisheries will begin rolling out this spring.
At URI, Taylor’s “home garden” is a four-acre plot at the Gardiner Crops Research Center on Thirty Acre Pond Road below the Kingston campus. His plot, seen from Plains Road, is seen in microcosm of the immigrant foodways he would study for his research in the years to come.
In URI’s Agrobiodiversity Learning Garden and Food Forest, he grows crops related to the food traditions of Rhode Island’s diverse communities: South American potatoes, Mexican tomatoes, Haitian tomatoes, Mediterranean plants, Asian bok choy, and fruit from an African diaspora garden. . Taylor maintains the garden with students in the Plant Sciences and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems programs and the URI garden, demonstrating how sustainable agriculture can contribute to community development.
Along with the educational garden, he follows a lead set by generations of immigrants who have moved to Providence and cities like it, bringing their gardening practices, and sometimes seeds, with them.
“My personal, professional, and academic experiences inform my teaching and research,” Taylor said.
Descendant of five generations of Pennsylvania farmers, he grew up on a 100-acre farm that incorporated livestock crops near Pittsburgh. Taylor started farming at age 6 and started a market garden in high school. He left farming to attend the University of Chicago, where he studied philosophy. He held federal scholarships for 10 years before returning to school to study horticulture and practice landscaping.