Tag Archives: green infrastructure


Student Feature: Why do we shop at Farmer’s Markets? Kate Gurke and Graham Ambrose Conduct Survey to Explore Motivations.

June 06, 2017

SRN students Graham Ambrose and Kate Gurke have worked on a study to understand how subjective well-being motivates sustainable purchasing decisions using a survey model known as dot surveys at farmers’ markets. The dot surveys were used by over 400 farmer’s market consumers to gather information on where consumers get the majority of their food, expenditures at the market, and motivations for attendance. These motivations that can be described as thinking, feeling, or purpose reasons to see if the personal benefits, positive emotional feelings, or beliefs in a cause that are linked to the market attendance. Participant’s responses showed which type of motivation or a combination of all three motivate market attendance.

Kate Gurke
Kate Gurke

Kate Gurke has a degree in geology that took her to Italy as a teaching assistant for a study abroad program. Upon return she worked for several outdoor education programs including Conservation Corps Youth Outdoors, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources I Can Paddle!, and Greencorps Chicago. These program included several urban agriculture projects and sparked an interest in urban food movements and food access. She has been a Graduate Research Assistant for the Partnership in International Research and Education and Sustainable Research Network grants for the duration of her master’s degree. The SRN led to connections with researchers in the Applied Economics department at University of Minnesota working with Minneapolis farmers’ markets.

Graham Ambrose
Graham Ambrose

Graham Ambrose completed his undergraduate degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics with an emphasis in agroecology. I have refocused my interest towards understanding the unique market and policy forces driving success for small farmers.  My interests stem from a desire to develop market avenues for small, nontraditional farmers already producing in peri-urban and rural areas. I have worked with the Crow Wing and Cass County Farm Bureau and UMN Extension to assess and create a market development plan for local, grass-fed beef producers in the area. The research has used a mixed methodology approach, which utilized dot-surveys at local grocery stores, interviews with local chefs and grocer owners, as well as internet based consumer and producer surveys looking at desire and willingness-to-pay. I have also participated and placed second in the UMN’s Acara Start-up Challenge for a produce aggregation, software platform that allows small farmers to sell, through multiple market avenues, to families, restaurants and institutions. Last, I have been a lead author on issue briefs discussing typologies of urban agriculture and economies of scale in urban agriculture through the SRN group at the UMN.


Student Feature: Ecosystem Services of Urban Farms by Xinyu Liu and Varsha Gopalakrishnan

April 11, 2017

Xinyu Liu and Varsha Gopalakrishnan, PhD students in Prof. Bhavik Bakshi’s group at The Ohio State University work on integrating the role of ecosystem services into engineering design and decision making. Their work is motivated by the thinking that all engineered products and processes can be economically viable while respecting ecological limits. They use concepts from the fields such as Process Systems Engineering, Life Cycle Assessment, and Ecological Modeling to expand the boundary of traditional engineering methods to include ecosystems and to design systems that operate within nature’s carrying capacity. Ultimately, this research work aims to develop synergies between technological and ecological systems to meet human needs while ensuring sustainability and resilience.

The scale of problems they address varies spatially and temporally, across individual equipment to the life cycle and across technologies and ecosystems. Some of the problems they have focused on include designing integrated networks of technological and ecological systems for industrial plants, developing a theoretical framework to account for ecosystem services in life cycle assessment and life cycle evaluation of several emerging technologies.

As a part of the SRN project, Xinyu and Varsha are interested in understanding the ecosystem services and disservices from different forms of urban farming across multiple cities in the world. Farming activities are associated with a bundle of ecosystem services, such as food provisioning, carbon sequestration and water quality regulation. Considering multiple services simultaneously will prevent the impact shifting to other services, thus enabling more informative decision making. They are interested in analyzing multiple scenarios to understand the benefits of investing in green infrastructure like community gardens and urban farms. This work contributes to the integrated SRN framework by providing quantitative indicators to assess environmental sustainability and linking it to human well-being and livability.

Xinyu Liu
Varsha Gopalakrishnan


Sara Meerow and Josh Newell Publish on Spatial Planning for Green Infrastructure in Detroit

December 16, 2016

SRN student Sara Meerow and faculty member Josh Newell, both at the University of Michigan, developed a Green Infrastructure Spatial Planning (GISP) model to maximize the ecosystem services of green infrastructure. They applied this stakeholder-driven model to Detroit to identify priority areas across the city where multiple environmental, health, wealth, and livability benefits of green infrastructure are needed most, and compared these results with the locations of current projects.

The full article, Spatial planning for multifunctional green infrastructure: Growing resilience in Detroit is published in Landscape and Urban Planning and available here.


Virtual Forum: Elliott, Motzny and Foster discuss Water-Wastewater and Stormwater-Green Infrastructure, Pt. 2

April 20, 2016

Join us Friday, 4/21, for a discussion on: Water-Wastewater and Stormwater-Green Infrastructure, Pt.2: Research on Environment, Health, and Well-Being for Urban Green Infrastructure

Led by: Robert Elliott and Amy Motzny (Columbia University, Advisor: Dr. Patricia Culligan) Alec Foster (University of Michigan, Advisor: Josh Newell)

Friday April 21, 2:30 to 4:30 PM Central

To view or join the discussion on Friday: Join Here, Access Code: 383-419-437.

These lectures and discussions are part of a course offered by the MSSTEP Program and the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, Infrastructure Transformations for Sustainable Healthy Cities: Design and Policy.