This report presents the results of a project conducted by researchers at San Jose State University in partnership with Veggielution and Taylor Street Farm staff, funded by the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose, CA. The research team interviewed staff and volunteer farm workers to explore how nearby roadways impact experiences at farm sites. Research on outdoor nature-based recreation consistently identifies peaceful, natural site characteristics as important to a positive outdoor experience. This project sought to identify whether farm user attitudes and experiences would be consistent with these research findings resulting in farm users reporting that nearby roadways negatively impacted their experience. Without exception, nearby roadways did not interfere with interview participant experiences. To better understand these results, the authors asked farm staff and volunteers about their motivations and expectations for working at their farm.
Respondents reported motivations related to doing something meaningful and having a sense of connection to others and to the Earth. Respondent expectations focused on learning and social interaction. In this report, the authors argue that analysis of respondent interviews identifies agreement between expectations and motivations and respondents’ experiences at the farm sites as the explanation for the lack of apparent impact from nearby roadways. Farm users’ participation was not motivated by seeking a quiet nature experience and they reported no expectation for a quiet nature experience. Therefore, nearby roadways were not regarded as a negative impact among our sample.
The authors suggest that these findings hold implications for management and policy considerations. Urban farms are sources of healthy foods and provide opportunities for social interaction and physical activity, all identified as social determinants of health. Urban farms can also be developed as components of San Jose’s urban green infrastructure, which will contribute to mitigating the effects of a heating global climate. All of these impacts of urban farms have been linked to quantifiable socioeconomic benefits that can contribute to the quality of life for San Jose’s residents.
JOSHUA BAUR, PhD
Joshua Baur is an assistant professor and Recreation Degree coordinator at San Jose State University. His research focuses on the relationship between urban residents and the natural environment.
Ashley Estrada is a graduate student completing her master’s degree in Applied Anthropology at San Jose State University.