Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Innovation (M.A.)

Degree Program

Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies

First Advisor

Daniela Marini

Academic Year



The sense of belonging to a community, or social cohesion, is established in food spaces enabled by three separate and unique mechanisms: proximity, frequency, and interactions. This study looks specifically at the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids and the effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on the social benefits derived from the mechanisms of social cohesion, in an attempt to identify and discover new ways to leverage social cohesion in food spaces. Three populations were identified at the farmers market: customers, vendors, and market staff. Surveys and informal interviews provided evidence that proximity to and within the market, higher frequencies of attendance, and greater instances of interactions indicate a trend towards stronger feelings of belonging and connectedness (social cohesion) at the farmers market. Data on COVID-19 shows the market became a space where social cohesion was possible and may have even increased in part due to higher attendance, supported by higher food assistance transactions.