Date of Award


Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental Science


Environmental Science, Division of

Major Professor

Matthew Potteiger

Steering Committee Member

Theresa Selfa

Steering Committee Member

Evan Weissman


The development towards specialized, consolidated agriculture has prompted concerns over the strength of local food systems, through posing economic, environmental and social risk and threatening long-term resilience. One touted strategy to both tackle gaps in the local food system and support local farmers involves diversifying agricultural operations. However, diversification strategies have lacked contextualization in literature, and have not been examined through the lens of farmer perceptions. This mixed-methods study synthesized a local food assessment in Onondaga County, New York with in-depth interviews with farmers regarding diversification. Results highlighted social and institutional factors that contribute to varied perceptions about diversification, and distinct business models uncovered aligned with areas of over and underproduction in the local food assessment. These different business models were found to serve multiscalar agricultural systems yet all occupy local “place”, suggesting that opportunities to build resilience necessitate consideration of institutional context, and collaborative convergence of place-based, local-global networks.