Document Type


Date of Award

Summer 2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Systems - (Ph.D.)


New Jersey School of Architecture

First Advisor

Karen A. Franck

Second Advisor

Laura J. Lawson

Third Advisor

Brian J. Schilling

Fourth Advisor

Richard Stock


The local governments of post-industrial cities in the US struggle to foster economic development and to find uses for underutilized or abandoned urban land and buildings. Partly in response to growing consumer interest in locally produced foods, food entrepreneurs are increasingly using these underutilized urban properties for farming or for producing value-added food products. However, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, existing policies and regulatory regimes of local and state governments often restrict the ability of urban food entrepreneurs to grow. This dissertation documents urban food entrepreneurship in the post-industrial communities of greater Newark, New Jersey and greater Dayton, Ohio. The dissertation examines both: a) the characteristics of existing enterprises; and b) the network of laws, policies, regulations, and incentives that affect them. In both regions, entrepreneurs adapt vacant lots and former industrial and commercial buildings to produce a diversity of food products, including fruits and vegetables, gluten-free waffles, spice blends, beer, and wine. Entrepreneurs employ diverse organizational structures ranging from near hobby-level, informal enterprise to fully established for-profit businesses or non-profit organizations. In both regions, local government officials are cautiously supportive, an attitude that is tempered by restrictive regulations and policies. The dissertation concludes with a series of policy recommendations to local, and to a lesser extent state, governments interested in developing urban food entrepreneurship in their communities.