Who practices urban agriculture? An empirical analysis of participation before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lauren Chenarides, Carola Grebitus, Jayson L. Lusk, Iryna Printezis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) disrupted the food system motivating discussions about moving from a dependence on long food supply channels toward shorter local supply channels, including urban agriculture. This study examines two central questions regarding the adoption of urban agriculture practices at the household level during the COVID-19 pandemic: whether the outbreak of the novel coronavirus elicited participation in urban agriculture (e.g., community growing and home growing) and what are the characteristics of individuals who participate. To answer these questions, we conducted two online surveys in Phoenix, AZ, and Detroit, MI. The first round occurred during 2017 and the second during the lock-down in 2020. Using bivariate probit models, we find that (1) considerably fewer individuals participate in urban agriculture at community gardens compared to at-home gardening; (2) participation overall is lower in 2020 compared to 2017; and (3) respondents in Detroit practice urban agriculture more than respondents in Phoenix. Across both cities, our results suggest that the continuity of individuals' participation in growing food at community gardens and home is fragile. Not all characteristics that determined who participated in community gardens before COVID-19 are determining the likelihood to participate during the pandemic. In addition, growing food at home before COVID-19 was practiced by larger households and employed respondents, yet, during the pandemic, we find that home-growing was more likely when children were in the household and households were smaller and younger (Detroit), and younger and more educated (Phoenix). These findings suggest that many urban households' food-growing practices may not yet be mainstream and that other barriers may exist that inhibit households' participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-159
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • community garden
  • food supply chain
  • outbreak
  • pandemic
  • urban farming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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