First Advisor

Martha Works

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Community-supported agriculture -- Oregon -- Washington County, Land use -- Oregon -- Washington County, Local foods -- Oregon -- Washington County, Agricultural landscape management -- Oregon -- Washington County



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 99 p.) : ill. (some col.), col. maps


Local food networks are often defined as presenting a variety of alternative food production, consumption, and distribution practices to the conventional food system such as community-supported-agriculture, farmers markets, and community gardens. Local food initiatives are commonly proposed as a model for the future of sustainable agriculture, and in the region of Portland, Oregon the abundance of such alternative venues results from the area's natural surroundings and smart planning. The region is host to 39 farmers markets and Portland is often hailed as one of the country's most sustainable cities. This study examines the role of local food networks in preserving agricultural land uses and livelihoods in Washington County, Oregon, a rapidly growing county adjacent to the city of Portland. I focus on small-scale agricultural landscapes where the producer sells at farmers markets or through community supported agriculture (CSAs). I explore farmers' concerns about urbanization and farmland preservation, their relationship to urban markets, motives to become a farmer, engagement with the surrounding environment, and their difficulties participating in local food networks. In addition, I explore farmers market managers' insights into the development of local food networks and how they see their markets supporting small-scale farmers. In a survey of consumers I examine consumer motives to `buy local' and consumer concerns about farmland preservation. The research is qualitative and explores: 1) the processes shaping the development of local food networks; 2) how particular ideas and images of nature and the countryside inform both consumer desires to purchase from farmers selling locally and; 3) how those same images of nature and the countryside inform and motivate people to become farmers participating in local food networks. In so doing, I argue that the networks that sustain urban and rural systems are important in understanding the development of local food networks, and that the preservation of economically and culturally important agricultural lands in Washington County depends on a diversity of opinions and rural narratives in order to preserve small-scale sustainable farmlands close-in to cities. The conclusion is that local food sold through alternative venues can be used as a means to preserve and develop specific and manageable farm sites and agricultural land uses but the impact is limited. Large scale impacts on agricultural land uses and livelihoods will depend on planners and advocates agreeing on policies that encompass a diversity of opinions, land uses, and land managers, while understanding the array of networks beyond the city that sustain both urban and rural systems.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


Portland State University. Dept. of Geography

Persistent Identifier