Home Volume 2, Issue 2 From the Ground Up: Assessing Consumer Preferences for Multifunctional Agriculture


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From the Ground Up: Assessing Consumer Preferences for Multifunctional Agriculture

Leah Greden Mathewsa

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.022.011, pp. 51–69



Farmland provides more than just food and fiber; it also provides environmental benefits, scenic amenities, a link to our shared cultural heritage, and other benefits. While there is a vibrant literature on the multifunctionality of European agricultural landscapes, few studies examine the multifunctionality of those in the United States. This research provides a detailed, ground-up assessment of the multiple benefits that farmland provides to four counties in western North Carolina. Results outline the numerous benefits provided by rural landscapes and point to the value of a portfolio approach for documenting, monitoring, and financing the benefits of agriculture. The study introduces a replicable method that can be used by communities across the nation to investigate the multiple functions of their agricultural landscapes. Widespread and regular use of the method will lead to an improved understanding of the multifunctionality of U.S. agriculture and provide opportunities for effective monitoring and assessment of policies designed to protect these benefits.



community assessment, farmland benefits, geographic information systems (GIS), multifunctionality of agriculture (MFA)



a Department of Economics, University of North Carolina Asheville, CPO 2110, One University Heights, Asheville, NC 28804 USA; +1-828-251-6551; fax +1-828-251-6572; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   


Note: The project was supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant 2005-35618-1567. 



Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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