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In recent years urban agriculture has gained the attention of policy-makers, social organizers, and academics alike. This new wave of work and attention focuses on projects that ameliorate issues ranging from food insecurity to urban blight, and environmental degradation to the subversion of industrial food production. These projects consist of a variation of community gardens, educational programs, demonstration farms, and entrepreneurial production farms (I will identify all of these under the umbrella of urban agriculture (UA)). However, by simply studying the social impact of UA, researchers fail to consider who the active agent is in social change; this results in little acknowledgement of a movement that is predominately white, hegemonic, and exclusive. As a movement, UA is largely championed by a middle-class white populace as part of the alternative food movement, rather than being understood as having historical roots in predominately black and/or Latino neighborhoods. As a result, urban agriculture generally creates white spaces in otherwise black or Latino places. In this paper I will argue for a new research direction that considers UA from a critical race theory framework and that will allow researchers to examine how urban agriculture might create white “spaces” and white “ethics” in predominately black and Latino neighborhoods. Understanding UA from a critical race theory framework will be useful in helping the UA movement talk about food sovereignty rather than food insecurity in urban communities.


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Originally published as:

Hoover, B. (2013). White spaces in black and Latino places: Urban agriculture and food sovereignty. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 3(4), 109–115.