Urban Agriculture as an Avenue for Transforming Food Insecure Neighborhoods
With over 17 percent of Virginia population living in food deserts, or areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, it is imperative to mitigate the situation by investing in urban food production. Offering continuous extension education that involves hands-on training is the key to increasing urban food production leading to enhanced food security. The Sustainable and Urban Agriculture Program (SUAP) at Virginia State University, in conjunction with other partners, is providing comprehensive urban agriculture education across the state to increase knowledge and hands-on skills of gardeners, farmers, and extension educators. To accomplish this, the program is engaged in conducting regular workshops, field days, and hands-on training on various urban agriculture topics. In addition, the program is establishing demonstration sites across the state for displaying appropriate techniques, as well as developing and disseminating educational resources. The expected long-term project outcomes are increased urban food production, enhanced food security, reduced cost of food, improved health through access to fresh foods, and increased local incomes. The success of the project is constantly being evaluated using appropriate tools such as pre/post-tests, questionnaires, surveys, and follow up interviews.