Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Rebecca K. Zarger


community assets, ethnography, food desert, food security, Sulphur Springs, urban agriculture


"Food desert" commonly describes food insecure areas with few fresh food outlets. Though used in a number of sources, the definition of "food desert" remains largely undeveloped and research is often deficit oriented, failing to account for community assets that may exist within food deserts but are underutilized or under-supported. Using an assets-based, ethnographic approach, this study combines GIS and survey methodology with participant observation and qualitative interviews to assess the potential positive effect of urban agriculture on food accessibility in Sulphur Springs, a USDA identified urban food desert in Tampa, Florida.

Ethnographic data suggest that within this neighborhood, residents are largely dissatisfied with the quality of goods and services provided by local food retailers and, in response, seek alternatives to local retail food options. GIS and food store survey results from this study suggest that urban agriculture has the potential to increase fresh food accessibility and availability. Qualitative interview data suggest that the most appropriate way to improve food accessibility in this particular community is through Community Supported Agriculture that fosters social connections, while increasing access to healthful, quality foods, and circulating money within the community.