The eastern crescent and beyond : the current state of and potential for local food production and multifunctional agriculture in the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown peri-urban fringe

Date
2022-05-06
Authors
Romero, Veronica Yanil
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By 2050, urban areas will house 68% of the total global population (United Nations, 2018). As these areas expand, agricultural lands are lost to development. In the United States, the bulk of this agricultural land is located in the peri-urban fringe – a distinct area that exists between urban and rural areas and is characterized by prime agricultural soils and local production of fruits and vegetables (Optiz et al. 2015; Brinkley, 2012). When compared to other states, Texas’ peri-urban agricultural lands were found to be the most susceptible to land use conversion. However, a policy response to combat agricultural land loss is nearly non-existent (Freedgood et al., 2020). The loss of agricultural land is indicative of declining local food systems and food production. In addition to loss of agricultural land, local food production suffers from diminishing economic viability. Multifunctional agriculture is often recommended as a strategy for farm viability (Meert et al., 2005). Multifunctional agricultural encourages farms and ranches to diversify operations by providing diverse goods, services and experiences, such as educational workshops, farm-to-table eateries, composting, venue space, and more, in addition to food production (Zasada, 2011), This report aims to understand the state of and potential for local food production and multifunctional agriculture in the eastern peri-urban fringe of the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metropolitan area. This aim is fulfilled by employing three methods: 1) a quantitative assessment to determine the potential amount of fruits and vegetables which could be produced in the site, 2) a review of local government land use planning and policies, and 3) a multi-criteria analysis to identify suitable land for food production. The study area includes four counties and eleven municipalities in the eastern peri-urban fringe of the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metropolitan area in Central Texas. Findings indicate that although the study area can potentially support the estimated annual fruits and vegetables demand of residents within and nearby for the next two decades and that there is a cluster of large parcels suitable for food production, current local government land use planning and policies do not seem to support the local food system

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