Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological and Environmental Sciences (MSBES)


Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems


Plant Sciences and Entomology

First Advisor

John Taylor


Food sovereignty emphasizes the rights of people to have control over their food system. Relocalizing food production and limiting dependence on global industrial supply chains is necessary to increase food sovereignty in regions dominated by conventional food systems. In the US, the New England region aims to relocalize production by producing 50 percent of food consumed in the region by the year 2060. Rhode Island can contribute to this goal by expanding production and strengthening local food systems, thus serving as a model for New England and other urbanizing regions globally. For this study, a site suitability analysis was performed using a geographic information system to identify locations in the state of Rhode Island with fruit and vegetable production potential at both the ground- and rooftop-level. An agroecosystem-by-site-conditions suitability matrix was developed to sort locations into agroecosystem types each with a system-specific yield based on state-level and experimental data. The percentage of population needs that could be met with in-state production were also calculated for three different consumption levels corresponding to current consumption, the Food Solutions New England Omnivore's delight diet, and the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet. Approximately 21,000 ha of land were identified as current or potential land for fruit and vegetable production, with annual potential production of as much as 2.4 million mt of vegetables and 4.5 thousand mt of fruit, sufficient to meet the dietary needs of the state's population under the three consumption scenarios examined. Expansion of three agroecosystem types—home gardens, rooftop gardens, and controlled environment agriculture—is critical to meeting food sovereignty goals.



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