Emily C. Toner


As a soil geographer, writer and community builder, my work ranges across a wide landscape of topics and I employ a variety of skills to explore.


My academic work focuses on the intersection of people and soil. At different points that has meant a focus on sustainable agriculture, ethnopedology, people-environment geography, culturally-motivated gardening and urban agriculture. Below is a list of papers I published, events where I spoke, and funds awarded to me.

An internee and his ornamental garden at Camp Amache in Granada, Col. during World War II.

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS (with last name Toner or Eggleston)

Hallett, S., Hoagland, L. and Toner, E. 2016. Urban Agriculture: Environmental, Economic, and Social Perspectives. Horticultural Reviews, Volume 44 (ed J. Janick), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. doi: 10.1002/9781119281269.ch2

Adewopo J.B., VanZomeren C., Bhomia B.K., Almaraz M., Bacon A., Eggleston E., et al. 2014. Top-Ranked Priority Research Questions for Soil Science in the 21st Century.  Soil Science Society of America Journal 78(2):337-347. doi:10.2136/sssaj2013.07.0291

Eggleston E. 2012. Soil chemistry analysis and archival exploration of Japanese American internment camp gardens. Masters’ Thesis. University of Wisconsin – Madison.


SPEAKING EXPERIENCE                                                       

"Urban Extension Innovators in Action." Panelist. May 2017. National Urban Extension Leaders Conference. Minneapolis, MN.

“Urban Agriculture: Reflections on developing new Purdue Extension programs in support of innovative urban land use and social capital generation.” Speaker. October 2016. Purdue University Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture Seminar Series. West Lafayette, IN.

“History of Urban Agriculture in Indiana.” Speaker. October 2016. Purdue Extension Local Food Program Webinar Series. Indianapolis, IN.

"Community conversations: agriculture and the economics of growing local, quality food."  Panelist. June 2016. Food First: Indy's Food Story documentary premier. 

Soil Stories: Interned Japanese Americans Impacted Landscape's Chemistry.” Speaker. March 2012. Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Emerging Interfaces Series. Madison, WI.


FUNDS AWARDED                                                                   

Indiana Specialty Crop Block Grant, $52,000, Oct 2016 Awarded by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to support urban farmers via the Purdue Urban Farm Incubator Network to grow specialty crops

Purdue Extension Issue-Based Action Team Grant, $62,000, Nov 2015 Awarded by Purdue University to develop and deliver an urban agriculture certificate course, instructing participants on urban farm production, business management, and community building

Purdue AgSEED Grant, $50,000, Feb 2015 Awarded by Purdue University to develop and deliver an urban farm business planning course and an urban farm incubator network

AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship, $20,000, Sept 2012 Awarded by the Online News Association to complete an independent and digitally advanced journalism project to catalog state data available in Wisconsin

2012 Tableau Student Data Challenge Winner, Spring 2012 Presented a clear and interactive visual data story about people of Lesotho, Africa

Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Emerging Interfaces Grant, Sept 2011 Awarded to pursue my interest in the intersection of art and science




Urban Farm Incubator Network

At the beginning of my time with Purdue Extension - Marion County, I envisioned and fundraised for the Indianapolis Urban Farm Incubator Network which is now (2018) a supportive network for new urban farmers in its third year with 29 members. The network assists beginning urban farmers in Indianapolis to: 

  • Learn from and share with other beginning urban farmers
  • Meet experienced small-scale and urban farmers
  • Access professional development opportunities such as the Indiana Small Farm Conference
  • Explore market opportunities for locally grown products

Indy food council

State of the food system report

I co-edited a cross-sector report about the Indianapolis food system, guiding a process with 11 authors and 19 reviewers on behalf of the Indy Food Council. 

The purposes of the report is:

  • to glean data from experts in a variety of fields so that people work on interdisciplinary food system change can access it. 
  • to celebrate the successes of people working to improve the Indianapolis food system.
  • to make recommendations for future work.


Researchers Look At Changes In Agriculture, Food Access In Report On Marion County Food System, WFYI 90.1 FM

Indy Food Council releases latest data on Hoosiers' 'state of food', WTHR Channel 13

The solution to Indianapolis food deserts looks a lot like our farm-to-table movement, Indy Star



Purdue Extension

Urban Agriculture Certificate Course

The four-part logo for the certificate, representing each part of the final "Master Plan" a student creates.

The four-part logo for the certificate, representing each part of the final "Master Plan" a student creates.

I chaired the team effort that created the new Purdue Extension Urban Agriculture Certificate, a yearlong experience that combines an intensive three-month stretch of classroom-based learning during colder months with monthly field trips during the growing season. In 2016, I co-taught the pilot program for this certificate with Indianapolis-based urban farmer Amy Matthews. In 2018, the program welcomes its third class.

This certificate follows a new hybrid or “flipped classroom” course design using Blackboard’s online learning platform combined with face-to- face workshops--students learn foundational concepts at home, and then apply those concepts to their own urban farm or garden through in-class discussion and hands-on activities. I co-developed 25 learning modules that include written guides for instructors, in-class activities, and student worksheets. I also oversaw the production of 50 instructional videos. 

Participants in the inaugural Purdue Extension Urban Agriculture Certificate course reported:

  • A high level of satisfaction with every component of the course structure. Course elements that received a 9 out 10 rating or higher were: in-class presentations, the Master Plan assignment, homework videos, in-class activities and Community Voices videos.
  • An increase in confidence to begin or further develop an urban agriculture project. On a scale from 0-10, students’ average feeling of confidence increase from 4 to 8.4 as a result of the course.
  • An increase in clarity about the purpose of their urban agriculture project and the vision for their garden or farm. On a scale from 0-10, students’ clarity of purpose increased from 4.3 to 9.1 as a result of the course.
  • Increased understanding to research an urban site’s environmental history, test its soil and determine if there are red flags that should prevent using a property to grow food. On a scale from 0-10, students’ confidence to do this type of assessment and make safety judgements increased from 3.6 to 9.2 as a result of the course.


Harvest Ride

The 2016 IndyGrown Harvest Ride was an opportunity I co-developed with other urban agriculture leaders in Indianapolis to bike from urban farm to urban farm and finish with an on-farm dinner. More than 100 cyclists participated. As a result, awareness of the farms increased both for riders and within their social networks. Participating cyclists also purchased more local food in the months following the ride and felt greater pride in their city.