Thriving Agriculture

This workshop is part of a larger project called “Thriving Agricultural Systems in Urbanized Landscapes.” This project seeks to create economically thriving and environmentally beneficial agricultural systems in urbanized landscapes, with a particular focus on the Chesapeake Bay and freshwater streams. Agriculture in urbanized landscapes provide locally produced foods, open spaces and greenery, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat. However, the economic and environmental sustainability of such agricultural systems is threatened by competition for land and water resources and managing issues that can arise from proximity of residential and agricultural lands. This project will bring together stakeholders, ecologists, economists, and practitioners to envision what a sustainable Chesapeake area would look like in 25 years, and will then identify and implement the policies, technologies, and marketing strategies needed to achieve that vision.

A key feature of this research project is that it is stakeholder-led. The research problem itself was identified in collaboration farmers, industry, NGOs, and government agencies, and the project will move forward with the guidance of a stakeholder advisory board. Our stakeholder advisory board will help plan, implement, and evaluate the research project. This co-learning and shared discovery process will facilitate the rapid uptake of the project’s outputs by maintaining a focus on the present-day needs and desired futures of the stakeholders.

There are three main components to the project:

  • Working with stakeholders to envision desired 25-year futures for agricultural systems in urbanized landscapes that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.
  • Iterative research that evaluates how different technologies, management strategies, and policy-making tools can contribute to making those futures a reality.
  • Implementing the project findings through education, extension, and thoughtful strategies to spur adoption.

Central to this project will be the integration of nutrient movement and multiple types of economic models. Nutrient movement models examine the balance of inputs and uses of nutrients and project outcomes of beneficial management at a watershed scale. Economic models will project food market conditions, benefits of technological innovation, and adoption of best management practices. The suite of models will be integrated to project the economic and environmental sustainability of the Chesapeake watershed under different alternative futures. These models will spur conversation about needed innovations and will inform policy-makers about the effectiveness of alternative approaches for achieving the 25 year vision for the area.

This project is being implemented by researchers based in and around the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Our team, led by David Abler, includes researchers from Penn State, University of Maryland system, Ohio State University, Virginia Tech, and the Stroud Water Research Center. It is funded by a grant from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

To learn more about enhancing water quality in the Chesapeake, click here.