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Nature connection, experience and policy encourage and maintain adaptation to drought in urban agriculture

Egerer, Monika; Lin, Brenda B; Diekmann, Lucy

Climate change is challenging the sustained delivery of ecosystem services from urban agriculture. Extreme, prolonged drought in combination with high heat events affect urban crop production due to limited water availability and affect environmental management and adaptation to environmental conditions. In this study, we use urban community gardens in central coast California as a system to investigate how people are adapting their management behaviors over three time periods—before, during and after the longest drought in California's recent history. We specifically ask how behavioral change is impacted by water policies and gardener characteristics (including gardening experience, formal education, drought concern, and relationship to nature). Through structural equation modeling and multivariate analyses, we show that nature relatedness and gardening experience impact drought concern which in turn impact behavioral change, and potentially gardener's ability to sustainably manage water and to adapt to drought conditions. Planting motivations are also important, influencing people's adoption and retention of practices over time. Yet where concern may be absent, water policies are able to promote and maintain behavioral change and conservation-based practice adoption. Thus, environmental awareness and experience in combination with policies are needed to promote and support proactive behavioral change and adaptation to create resilient urban food production systems under climate change.
Published in: Environmental Research Communications, 10.1088/2515-7620/ab8917, IOP Publishing