Grant at US Santa Cruz Funds Research in Sustainable Urban Agriculture

Stacy Philpott, Associate Professor in Environmental Studies and holder of the Ruth and Alfred Heller Chair in Agroecology at University of California Santa Cruz, has been awarded a $439,676 grant from the US Department of Agriculture. The funds will be used to research sustainable agricultural practices in urban environments, seeking production practices that are essential to promoting pest control, pollination, and water conservation. Past research projects have been conducted in Toledo, Ohio, the Central Coast of California, and Detroit. Current research will be conducted in 25 gardens in California.

Dr. Philpott’s lab works in the areas of insect community ecology, ecosystem services, urban ecology, and interactions between agriculture, conservation, and livelihoods. These areas of research are applied in examining how urban habitats can protect biodiversity and build communities, conservation, sustainable agriculture, sustainable food systems, climate mitigation, and community sustainability.

“Many urban gardeners lack regionally appropriate agricultural knowledge regarding pest control, pollination, water storage, and garden sustainability,” says Philpott. “This missing knowledge is especially concerning given increasing food demands, increased climate-induced ecosystem stress, and the increasing importance of urban agriculture for providing for food security, especially in communities where food access is quite limited.”

Dr. Philpott, in association with Research Director Peter Bichier, has also worked on the Biodiversity in Urban Gardens Project, studying insects, bees, and birds. The goals of their research are not only to contribute to the scientific understanding of urban garden agro-ecosystem ecology, but to also provide useful and practical management information to urban growers.