Room to grow: A case study of fresh-food access and urban agriculture's contribution in San Antonio, Texas




Federspill, Melissa

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One of the prominent topics in urban planning is the crisis of food deserts, their impact on public health and the lack of fresh-food access for all demographic groups. Urban agriculture is often credited with being a cost-effective way to relieve food desert problems, and is a key component in today's current food planning mantra. Using a case study method, this thesis examines a facet of fresh-food access in San Antonio, Texas. Through the lens of the food desert definition put forth by the United States Department of Agriculture, this thesis analyzes a residents' ability to access a supermarket in the urban environment. This study also evaluates the relationship of urban agriculture, specifically community gardens, and their impact on food deserts via spatial analysis. Community gardens instituted by Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas were analyzed for their quantitative effectiveness in increasing fresh-food access in a food desert. Green Spaces Alliance is the largest nonprofit in San Antonio with a mission focused on implementing community gardens. It was found that food deserts are prevalent in San Antonio, with a disproportionate amount located within the central city. The findings also link food desert living to low socioeconomic status. The results of the urban agriculture analysis found that community gardens sparsely relieve food desert problems, making only a small contribution to the fresh-food access quandary.


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Urban and Regional Planning