Folk Cultivation History Project

There has been a long history of people growing food in the city for themselves and their community, especially in communities of color. Yet historical archives and formal records have failed to recognize this legacy, even as the memory continued to live on as generations passed on the stories. This project aims to gather the folk knowledge of the memories of these forms of local food provisioning through crowd-sourcing and share the information with the public on an interactive map

If you have information to be added to the map, please fill out this brief form.  

The project came out of the historical archival look into the land ownership and dispossession among Black Washingtonians and the agricultural industries' disappearance during the early centuries of the city's history. 

The initial year of the project was funded by Jessie Ball DuPont Foundation, and consulted ten local practitioners of urban agriculture as the advisory group for the project. 

Social Entrepreneurialism in Gentrifying Cities

This new research project focuses on the role that social entrepreneurs play in a gentrifying cities and neighborhoods. The concept of social entrepreneurialism has gained popularity among the investors and promoted by the business schools. But do these new interests in this type of for-profit enterprises benefit all entrepreneurs? 

By focusing on food social entrepreneurs, the study asks, what does it mean to be a social entrepreneur, the challenges they face in incubating and accelerating their venture, how do they measure their social impacts, and why do they seek this way of solving the social problems (rather than a more conventional route of non-profit organization, government agencies, or being activists)? 

If you wish to participate in the study, please contact Yuki at

Urban Agriculture Land/Resource Access Project 

This study examines the current opportunities and hurdles for land access among urban growers, including urban farmers and community gardeners through in-depth interviews with the current and prospective growers, and local government agencies. It uncovered the severity of land access/tenure challenges, along with difficulties of navigating various agencies' rules and regulations relevant to urban farming. 

The executive summary of the study, Cultivating Just Sustainability, can be accessed here

The initial year of the project was funded by Jessie Ball DuPont Foundation, and consulted ten local practitioners of urban agriculture as the advisory group for the project. 

Urban Agriculture Pivot during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

This project examined the extent to which urban agricultural policies shape and are being shaped by the practices on the ground. Do policies actually support the growers? If so, which growers? Whose voices and experiences share the local urban agricultural policies?

In collaboration with Caroline Boules (U-MD), we conducted a study of how urban growers adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, by comparing the experiences across the DMV metro regions to see how local and national policies guided or hindered the growers' ability to adapt and innovate to the rapidly changing economic and social circumstances during the pandemic. 

The first article from this project was published at the Journal of Urban Affairs. (Click here to download the executive summary for an overview of the findings.)

Urban Cultivation in Post-Katrina New Orleans

In this research project, I examine why and how urban gardening emerged and proliferated in post-Katrina New Orleans. In this longitudinal study, I demonstrate that urban cultivation was initially overlooked by many during the slow disaster recovery process, but rapidly expanded its practice and visibility during the economic redevelopment period.  

I argue that while urban growers often intended to serve the communities, many were influenced by the economic and political changes in the city, resulting in urban cultivation to be associated more with the new food economy and gentrification than the revival of the long tradition of gardening and local food procurement in the city. 

View and access previous publication on this project at the Publication page.  I am currently working on a book manuscript Cultivating Hope based on this research.