Picture of Phoebe Pyles
Photo courtesy of Phoebe Pyles.

Food sustainability is not just about the food we eat. It is how the food is produced, distributed, packaged, and even how it is consumed.

Phoebe Pyles, a Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics student, always had an interest in food and the culture around it.

The Manhattan native says that growing up, dinners were always a big part of her family dynamics and one of the reasons why she thought about going to culinary school to become a chef. During high school, she attended the school’s chef’s Politics of Food class where she was introduced to food waste and sustainability issues. This led Pyles to research land grant universities to pursue her interest further.

“Coming from an urban area, many people don’t know where their food comes from,” said Pyles. “I want to change that.”

After graduating next spring, she hopes to take what she has learned and bring an urban agriculture platform back to Manhattan through community-based food organizing. “I love the hands-on approach.”

This couldn’t be more fitting or complementary to the new ‘Food Forward NYC: A 10-year food policy plan that New York City has in place. The policy framework goal is to reach a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system for New Yorkers by 2031.

In addition to her school work, Pyles is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and beginning this fall will be one for the department as well.

“I want to help students understand AAEC’s majors and how they can take their degree to lead change in the agriculture industry. You don’t have to live in a rural area to be in agriculture and make a difference.”

Picture of Phoebe Pyles
Phoebe Pyles harvesting carrots at Glade Road Growing in Blacksburg.

Pyles also works at The Market at Virginia Tech, which provides support to students currently experiencing food insecurity. Program participants receive a variety of produce, proteins, dairy/non-dairy products, and shelf-stable items weekly.

We look forward to seeing this future leader and the impact she will have on how others in urban areas view agriculture.

Written by Melissa Vidmar
April 2023