Home Volume 2, Issue 3 Building Sustainable Food Systems in a Single Bottom-Line Context: Lessons from SEED Wayne, Wayne State University
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Building Sustainable Food Systems in a Single Bottom-Line Context:

Lessons from SEED Wayne, Wayne State University

by Kameshwari Pothukuchia

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.023.011, pp. 103–119



This paper discusses a four-year effort, embodied in an initiative called SEED Wayne, to implement a university-community sustainable food system collaboration involving multiple activities in campus and neighborhood settings, which also coincided with moves to institutionalize elements of the program as part of the university's core functions of education, research, engagement, and operations. The paper documents the many ways in which activities have indeed successfully integrated across the university's functions and discusses factors accounting for this integration. However, attempts to institutionalize the farmers' market as a university operation have encountered barriers heightened by an increasing focus on the single economic bottom line brought on by public funding cutbacks, which exacerbates the cleavage between functions considered academic — teaching and research — and those related to engagement and operations. The university's vast bureaucracy also challenges innovative approaches to an integrative sustainability agenda. The paper discusses the implications of these challenges and offers recommendations to others wishing to embark on a similar initiative.


Keywords: SEED Wayne, sustainable food systems, university-community partnerships, university sustainability programs



a Kameshwari Pothukuchi is Associate Professor, Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Wayne State University; Detroit, MI 48202 USA; +1-313-577-4296; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . She is also director of SEED Wayne. 


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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