Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Patricia Ripoll

Abstract

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that, as the world population grows, food and water shortages will become even more serious issues (IPPC's 2014 predictions about the future effects of climate change (CC), Year-round growing (YRG) may provide a way for communities to extend growing seasons, expand local farm systems, and provide food year round. This case study included a detailed analysis of responses from representatives of all sectors of rural Mesa County, Colorado, regarding YRG and a local food and farm plan due to CC. The case was bounded by time (6 months of data collection) which provided an in-depth picture of responses from the community. The theoretical framework for the study was Kingdon's multiple streams theory; a local, conceptual framework was provided by Liu, Lindquist, Vedlitz, and Vincent, who identified the key factors for local agenda-setting, defined in the policy literature as an important step in policymaking. Research questions explored YRG as a way to mitigate CC and as a potential platform to create policy towards a local food and farm plan. Twenty-one citizens from all sectors of a small community in western Colorado were interviewed about their perspectives on CC, YRG, and an agenda for a local food and farm plan (LFFP). Data were coded to identify themes and patterns. Results revealed that most participants were not concerned about CC, although they would like to see YRG and a LFFP thrive as a free market enterprise. Policy makers' support of rural farming through YRG and LFFPs would reduce both the distance food travels and the use of fossil fuels; it would also help create a path to a more sustainable future.