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STEM Education and Agriculture: The Garden Grub

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This paper about the Garden Grub concerns the growing Agritech industry along with exposing middle school students to STEM education. Currently over half of America's students are not prepared to be successful in our technology driven world. These students did

This paper about the Garden Grub concerns the growing Agritech industry along with exposing middle school students to STEM education. Currently over half of America's students are not prepared to be successful in our technology driven world. These students did not have the opportunity to be exposed to many Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math related careers or majors before entering the working world and/or college. These students are unaware of the real-life applications these topics can have and will never have the chance to pursue these fields. Using the Garden Grub, students will be introduced to the world of Agritech and how traditional agriculture is changing in include more technology. The Garden Grub is designed to not only introduce students to STEM in general, but specifically the Agritech Industry. With the Garden Grub kit and instructions students will be able to construct a small device that will monitor the external temperature and the soil moisture of a plant they are growing. For future implementations of the Garden Grub, we will develop a structured lesson plan to teach the users more about the device they are building. This is so in the future users could continue their education in Agritech and STEM because they have more knowledge on the subjects From standalone testing the Garden Grub, the device was able to successfully monitor the lettuce to ensure that it grew successfully. The Garden Grub instructions and kit were tested in a fourth-grade classroom, where college volunteers worked with the students to begin to create their own device. While there was not enough time to successfully complete the product the fourth graders were more interested in STEM than when we first started. Even though they struggled in the beginning, students quickly learned basic concepts , such as +/- circuit power, transfer of data, and sensor connections. More recently we were able to go into a middle school and teach in a classroom with the students who were part of a coding elective course. Since our last outing we were able to update the user manual and prepare more ahead of time. This gave us more time to explain the concepts to the students, along with being able to successful build all of the devices. They began to think of ways that this device could be applicable to their lives along with how the Garden Grub could be improved in the future.

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2018-05

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Assessing the value of sustainability indicators through the case study of Valley Permaculture Alliance

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The ecological benefits provided by trees include improving air quality (Nowak, et. al., 2006), mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon (Nowak, 1993), providing animal habitats (Livingston, et. al., 2003), and reducing heat (Edmonson, 2016), among others. Trees also provide numerous

The ecological benefits provided by trees include improving air quality (Nowak, et. al., 2006), mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon (Nowak, 1993), providing animal habitats (Livingston, et. al., 2003), and reducing heat (Edmonson, 2016), among others. Trees also provide numerous social benefits, impacting urban sustainability in particular by improving human health (Salmond, 2016), aesthetically and economically improving neighborhoods (Torres, 2012), and contributing to thriving communities by creating gathering spaces and even reducing crime (Abraham, et. al., 2010). Because of the tremendous potential of trees to provide social and ecological services, particularly in urban areas, tree planting has become an important facet of many sustainability initiatives. This thesis assesses one such initiative aimed at planting trees for the diverse benefits they provide. Valley Permaculture Alliance (VPA), a nonprofit based in Phoenix, Arizona, is known for its Shade Tree Program. The author conducted an internal, quantitative assessment of the program between August and December of 2015. The assessment included evaluation of several indicators of ecological and community health related to the presence of shade trees, culminating in a report released in 2016. This paper evaluates the use of sustainability indicators in the VPA assessment as well as their value in different types of organizations. It culminates with an assessment of VPA's strengths, challenges faced by the organization, and suggestions for its future development.

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2016-12

The Climate Smart Farm: Incorporation of Rainwater Harvesting for Resilient Agriculture

Description

Due to recent changes in climate, hurricanes have become more violent and destructive in the tropical region of the Caribbean. Extreme weather events have destroyed freshwater sources in many islands, affecting the overall food and water security of the region.

Due to recent changes in climate, hurricanes have become more violent and destructive in the tropical region of the Caribbean. Extreme weather events have destroyed freshwater sources in many islands, affecting the overall food and water security of the region. More resilient forms of collecting freshwater for citizens and agriculture must be proposed in order to mitigate future weather impacts and increase future water security. Rainwater harvesting is an ideal and sustainable source of freshwater that can be adapted into existing households to help ease reliance on city water sources. Rainwater harvesting systems are effective sources of supplemental freshwater because they are easy to incorporate and inexpensive compared to other sources of freshwater. Dennis McClung, founder and owner of global charity, Garden Pool, has created the Climate Smart Farm, an agriculture system that incorporates rainwater harvesting to help create a more climate resilient farm. The Climate Smart Farm is adaptable and can be customized to incorporate solar energy, vertical gardening, aquaponics, hydroponics, plant propagation techniques, and more to grow crops in a more sustainable fashion. The system has recently been installed in the island of Barbuda, which was badly affected by the hurricanes in the summer of 2017. The system has been positively accepted by the country due to its ability to make agriculture simple and sustainable. It can be built with local materials, making the building process economy friendly. And with the addition of plant propagation techniques, the Climate Smart Farm can extend growing seasons and increase overall yields.

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2018-05

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A simple agent-based model of farmers adapting to climate change

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Climate change presents the urgent need for effective sustainable water management that is capable of preserving natural resources while maintaining economical stability. States like California rely heavily on groundwater pumping for agricultural use, contributing to land subsidence and insufficient returns

Climate change presents the urgent need for effective sustainable water management that is capable of preserving natural resources while maintaining economical stability. States like California rely heavily on groundwater pumping for agricultural use, contributing to land subsidence and insufficient returns to water resources. The recent California drought has impacted agricultural production of certain crops. In this thesis, we present an agent-based model of farmers adapting to drought conditions by making crop choice decisions, much like the decisions Californian farmers have made. We use the Netlogo platform to capture the 2D spatial view of an agricultural system with changes in annual rainfall due to drought conditions. The goal of this model is to understand some of the simple rules farmers may follow to self-govern their consumption of a water resource. Farmer agents make their crop decisions based on deficit irrigation crop production function and a net present value discount rate. The farmers choose between a thirsty crop with a high production cost and a dry crop with a low production cost. Simulations results show that farmers switch crops in accordance with limited water and land resources. Farmers can maintain profit and yield by following simple rules of crop switching based on future yields and optimal irrigation. In drought conditions, individual agents expecting lower annual rainfall were able to increase their total profits. The maintenance of crop yield and profit is evidence of successful adaptation when farmers switch to crops that require less water.

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2016-05

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Community supported agriculture membership: characterizing food and sustainability behaviors

Description

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) have become a viable local source of fresh agricultural goods and represent a potentially new way to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among individuals and families. Studies concerning CSAs have focused mainly on characteristics of

Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) have become a viable local source of fresh agricultural goods and represent a potentially new way to improve fruit and vegetable consumption among individuals and families. Studies concerning CSAs have focused mainly on characteristics of the typical CSA member and motivations and barriers to join a CSA program. The purpose of this study was to examine whether behavior and attitudinal differences existed between current CSA members and a nonmember control group. Specifically, ecological attitudes, eating out behaviors, composting frequency, and family participation in food preparation were assessed. This study utilized an online survey comprising items from previous survey research as well as newly created items. A total of 115 CSA member and 233 control survey responses were collected. CSA members were more likely to be older, have more education, and have a higher income than the control group. The majority of CSA members surveyed were female, identified as non-Hispanic and Caucasian, earned a higher income, and reported being the primary food shopper and preparer. The majority of members also noted that the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables they ate and served their family increased as a result of joining a CSA. CSA members were more ecologically minded compared to the control group. Frequency of eating out was not significantly different between groups. However, eating out behaviors were different between income categories. CSA members spent significantly more money at each meal eaten away from home and spent significantly more money on eating out each week. In both cases, controlling for income attenuated differences between groups. CSA members composted at a significantly higher rate and took part in other eco-friendly behaviors more often than the control group. Finally, no significant difference was evident between the two groups when analyzing family involvement in food preparation and meal decision-making. Overall, some significant attitudinal and behavioral differences existed between CSA members and non-CSA members. Further research is necessary to examine other distinctions between the two groups and whether these differences occur as a result of CSA membership.

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Date Created
2011

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Community food resource assessment in Central City South, Phoenix: a study of community capacity building

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Many studies have shown that access to healthy food in the US is unevenly distributed and that supermarkets and other fresh food retailers are less likely to be located in low-income minority communities, where convenience and dollar stores are more

Many studies have shown that access to healthy food in the US is unevenly distributed and that supermarkets and other fresh food retailers are less likely to be located in low-income minority communities, where convenience and dollar stores are more prevalent grocery options. I formed a partnership with Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, a local community development organization engaged in Central City South, Phoenix, to enhance the community's capacity to meet its community health goals by improving access to healthy food. I used a community-based participatory approach that blended qualitative and quantitative elements to accommodate collaboration between both academic and non-academic partners. Utilizing stakeholder interviews, Nutrition Environment Measures Surveys (NEMS), and mapping to analyze the community's food resources, research revealed that the community lacks adequate access to affordable, nutritious food. Community food stores (n=14) scored an average of 10.9 out of a possible 54 points using the NEMS scoring protocol. The community food assessment is an essential step in improving access to healthy food for CCS residents and provides a baseline for tracking progress to improve residents' food access. Recommendations were drafted by the research partnership to equip and empower the community with strategic, community-specific interventions based on the research findings.

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2011

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Restaurant industry sustainability: barriers and solutions to sustainable practice indicators

Description

Restaurants have a cumulative impact on the environment, economy, and society. The majority of restaurants are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Review of sustainability and industry literature revealed that considering restaurants as businesses with sustainable development options is the most appropriate way

Restaurants have a cumulative impact on the environment, economy, and society. The majority of restaurants are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Review of sustainability and industry literature revealed that considering restaurants as businesses with sustainable development options is the most appropriate way to evaluate their sustainable practices or lack thereof. Sustainable development is the means by which a company progresses towards achieving an identified set of sustainability goals and harnesses competitive advantage. The purpose of this thesis is to identify barriers to implementing sustainable practices in restaurants, and explore ways that restaurateurs can incorporate sustainable business practices. Energy consumption, water use, waste production, and food throughput are the four sustainability indicators addressed in this thesis. Interviews were conducted with five Tempe, Arizona restaurants, two of which consider their operations to be sustainable, and three of which are traditional restaurants. Results show that for traditional restaurants, the primary barriers to implementing sustainable business practices are cost, lack of awareness, and space. For sustainability-marketed restaurants, the barriers included a lack of knowledge or legal concerns. The sustainability-marketed restaurants have energy-efficient equipment and locally source a majority of their food purchases. There is a marked difference between the two types of restaurants in perception of barriers to sustainable business practices. I created a matrix to identify whether each indicator metric was applicable and present at a particular restaurant, and the potential barriers to implementing sustainable practices in each of the four indicator areas. Restaurants can use the assessment matrix to compare their current practices with sustainable practices and find ways to implement new or enhance existing sustainable practices. Identifying the barriers from within restaurants increases our understanding of the reasons why sustainable practices are not automatically adopted by SMEs. The assessment matrix can help restaurants overcome barriers to achieving sustainability by highlighting how to incorporate sustainable business practices.

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2011

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Sustainable urbanism: an integrative analysis of master planned developments as a vehicle for urban environmental sustainability

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Sustainable urbanism offers a set of best practice planning and design prescriptions intended to reverse the negative environmental consequences of urban sprawl, which dominates new urban development in the United States. Master planned developments implementing sustainable urbanism are proliferating globally,

Sustainable urbanism offers a set of best practice planning and design prescriptions intended to reverse the negative environmental consequences of urban sprawl, which dominates new urban development in the United States. Master planned developments implementing sustainable urbanism are proliferating globally, garnering accolades within the planning community and skepticism among social scientists. Despite attention from supporters and critics alike, little is known about the actual environmental performance of sustainable urbanism. This dissertation addresses the reasons for this paucity of evidence and the capacity of sustainable urbanism to deliver the espoused environmental outcomes through alternative urban design and the conventional master planning framework for development through three manuscripts. The first manuscript considers the reasons why geography, which would appear to be a natural empirical home for research on sustainable urbanism, has yet to accumulate evidence that links design alternatives to environmental outcomes or to explain the social processes that mediate those outcomes. It argues that geography has failed to develop a coherent subfield based on nature-city interactions and suggests interdisciplinary bridging concepts to invigorate greater interaction between the urban and nature-society geographic subfields. The subsequent chapters deploy these bridging concepts to empirically examine case-studies in sustainable urbanism. The second manuscript utilizes fine scale spatial data to quantify differences in ecosystem services delivery across three urban designs in two phases of Civano, a sustainable urbanism planned development in Tucson, Arizona, and an adjacent, typical suburban development comparison community. The third manuscript considers the extent to which conventional master planning processes are fundamentally at odds with urban environmental sustainability through interviews with stakeholders involved in three planned developments: Civano (Tucson, Arizona), Mueller (Austin, Texas), and Prairie Crossing (Grayslake, Illinois). Findings from the three manuscripts reveal deep challenges in conceptualizing an empirical area of inquiry on sustainable urbanism, measuring the outcomes of urban design alternatives, and innovating planning practice within the constraints of existing institutions that facilitate conventional development. Despite these challenges, synthesizing the insights of geography and cognate fields holds promise in building an empirical body of knowledge that complements pioneering efforts of planners to innovate urban planning practice through the sustainable urbanism alternative.

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2013

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Institutional analysis of water management for agriculture in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, Peru

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This research presents an analysis of the main institutions and economic incentives that drive farmers behaviors on water use in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, located in Lambayeque (Peru), a semi arid area of great agricultural importance. I focus my research on

This research presents an analysis of the main institutions and economic incentives that drive farmers behaviors on water use in the Chancay-Lambayeque basin, located in Lambayeque (Peru), a semi arid area of great agricultural importance. I focus my research on identifying the underlying causes of non-collaborative behaviors in regard to water appropriation and infrastructure provisioning decision that generates violent conflicts between users. Since there is not an agreed and concrete criteria to assess "sustainability" I used economic efficiency as my evaluative criteria because, even though this is not a sufficient condition to achieve sustainability it is a necessary one, and thus achieving economic efficiency is moving towards sustainable outcomes. Water management in the basin is far from being economic efficient which means that there is some room for improving social welfare. Previous studies of the region have successfully described the symptoms of this problem; however, they did not focus their study on identifying the causes of the problem. In this study, I describe and analyze how different rules and norms (institutions) define farmers behaviors related to water use. For this, I use the Institutional Analysis and Development framework and a dynamic game theory model to analyze how biophysical attributes, community attributes and rules of the system combined with other factors, can affect farmers actions in regard to water use and affect the sustainability of water resources. Results show that water rights are the factor that is fundamental to the problem. Then, I present an outline for policy recommendation, which includes a revision of water rights and related rules and policies that could increase the social benefits with the use of compensation mechanisms to reach economic efficiency. Results also show that commonly proposed solutions, as switch to less water intensive and more added value crops, improvement in the agronomic and entrepreneurial knowledge, or increases in water tariffs, can mitigate or exacerbate the loss of benefits that come from the poor incentives in the system; but they do not change the nature of the outcome.

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2013

Fair Trade: History, Ethics & Impact 1-Credit Course

Description

This course will cover the history, ethics and impact of the fair trade movement for a variety of stakeholders in the Global South and Global North. We will be participating in various activities that will acquaint us with different topics,

This course will cover the history, ethics and impact of the fair trade movement for a variety of stakeholders in the Global South and Global North. We will be participating in various activities that will acquaint us with different topics, including globalization, the gender wage gap, environmental degradation and supply chain management. Guest speakers from the fair trade community will contribute their perspectives regarding the movement. Students will gain an understanding of the tradeoffs of the fair trade movement for the different actors throughout the length of the supply chain. Students will describe the purpose of the fair trade movement and who it seeks to serve. Students will explain what the Fair Trade certification entails for the actors who engage in the system. Students will debate the tradeoffs of the fair trade movement, incorporating the perspectives of multiple stakeholders from both the Global South and Global North. Finally, students will evaluate Fair Trade as a tool for sustainability both socially and economically.

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2019-05