From the Ground Up: Assessing Consumer Preferences for Multifunctional Agriculture


  • Leah Greden Mathews University of North Carolina Asheville



Community Assessment, Farmland Benefits, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Multifunctionality Of Agriculture (MFA)


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.


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Author Biography

Leah Greden Mathews, University of North Carolina Asheville

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.



How to Cite

Mathews, L. G. (2012). From the Ground Up: Assessing Consumer Preferences for Multifunctional Agriculture. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(2), 51–69.