Skip to main content

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: bundle in fieldable_panels_panes_load_from_subtype() (line 995 of /var/www/html/sites/all/modules/contrib/fieldable_panels_panes/fieldable_panels_panes.module).
  • Notice: Undefined index: bundle in fieldable_panels_panes_load_from_subtype() (line 995 of /var/www/html/sites/all/modules/contrib/fieldable_panels_panes/fieldable_panels_panes.module).
Indianapolis Skyline and White River
Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability

SAUSI: Sustainable Agriculture in Urban Systems of Indy


Sustainable and local urban agriculture is often touted as being able to restore ecosystem function, including soil health, water quality, and biodiversity. This may be especially important in cases where urban agriculture has replaced abandoned or heavily managed land uses such as conventional agriculture and manicured lawns. Yet, little is known about the extent to which urban agriculture does, in fact, provide these ecosystem benefits and how long it takes for these benefits to be realized.

This project is quantifying carbon and nutrient cycling and microbial community structure and function at four urban farms in Indianapolis to explore how ecosystem function changes through time and how urban agriculture soil health compares to both prior land use and natural ecosystem types. Eventually, we hope to tie farm productivity and profitability to ecosystem services.

Get Involved

Butler Students. We offer for-credit internships during the fall and spring semesters for third and fourth year biology, chemistry, and environmental studies majors.

Faculty Leadership

Professor Sean Berthrong, Department of Biological Sciences

Professor Julia Angstmann, Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability

Student Interns


Spencer Lybrook, Biology '21 


Becca Lewis, Chemistry and Biology '18

Nick Bantz, Biology '20

Course Connections

A portion of the data for SAUSI will use data collected in three Butler courses as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF) project entitled Cultivating Scientific Literacy and Action through Place: Using a Campus Farm as an Interdisciplinary Learning Hub:

BI230 – Fundamentals: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology          

Instructors: Professors Travis Ryan, Sean Berthrong, & Andrew Stoehr

Module Title: Soil Respiration, Arthropod Biodiversity, and the Analysis of Variance


BI408 – Topics in Biology, Ecosystem Ecology                            

Instructor: Professor Sean Berthrong

Module title: Bringing Microbes and Carbon Cycling Down to Earth


CH465 – Environmental Chemistry                                                  

Instructor: Professor Elizabeth Davis

Module Title: Urban Agriculture and Environmental Health: Characterizing Risks of Soil Contamination

Publications & Reports

Moskal, B.T. 2016. Soil Health within Indianapolis Urban Gardens. Honors Thesis, Department of Biological Sciences, Butler University. 


Moskal, B., Berthrong, S., Angstmann, J. 2016. Indy Soil Health: Are urban soils healthy enough to sustain agriculture? Urban Agriculture and Sustainability in the Northwest Region, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC.