Resilience of Urban Agriculture in Lansing to COVID-19


October 22, 2021 - Allie Swartz, <>, <>

Our first workshop, held in November 2019, explored the resilience of the urban agriculture (UA) system in Lansing. We celebrated successes, discussed challenges, and shared visions for the future of urban agriculture in Lansing. The conversations informed a report where we outlined elements that make the urban agriculture system resilient and/or vulnerable to shocks, highlighting four main categories:

  1. Governance and institutions
  2. Community and networks
  3. Financial and material resources
  4. Knowledge and practice

We weren’t expecting such a large shock to the system to occur so quickly afterwards that would test these conclusions, but since March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all our systems, including urban agriculture. On December 1st 2020 we held a second workshop to explore how Lansing’s urban agriculture system was affected by and responded to COVID-19. The discussion allowed us to further our understanding of what builds and erodes resilience in the system. It was framed around three elements:

  • Challenges and opportunities created by COVID-19
  • Needs for capacity building that would allow response to these challenges and opportunities
  • Shifts in visions for a desirable Lansing urban agriculture system as a result of this shock

Resilience is the capacity of a system to respond to change through adaptation or transformation while maintaining structure, function, and identity and support positive and proactive development. Broadly, food systems exist for the function of the provision of food. But our urban agriculture systems offer many other functions too which enrich our lives, as outlined in our last workshop (e.g., building community cohesion, cultural diversity, biodiversity, education). When studying the resilience of Lansing’s UA system through the pandemic, we are looking to see if the varied functions and thus the overall identity of the system are maintained.

Download the file to read more about the results of this workshop!

Recommended citation

Swartz, A., Hodbod, J. & Goralnik, L. (2021). Resilience of Urban Agriculture in Lansing to COVID-19. East Lansing, MI: Department of Community Sustainability.



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