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Category — Planning

Making cities sustainable with urban agriculture

shanghIn Shanghai much food used to be grown within the city. In recent years peri-urban agriculture has taken over from intra-urban cropping. Whilst some land has been paved over as the city expanded, large areas of peri-urban land are still being set aside for farming. Photo by Herbert Girardet.

“Even in remote places such as Irkutsk in Siberia with its very short growing season, I have seen people cultivate an great variety of vegetables”

By Herbert Girardet
3rd December 2014
An extract from Creating Regenerative Cities by Herbert Girardet, published by Routledge (Abingdon and New York) 2014.


I found the same in China, which has an age-old tradition of settlements permeated with food-growing areas. Today, at a time of very rapid urban-industrial growth, urban agriculture is still a very important issue for the Chinese.

Even megacities such as Shanghai, with about 15% population growth per year, one of the fastest growing cities on the planet, maintains its urban farming as an important part of its economic system.

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December 14, 2014   No Comments

Academicians, NGOs push benefits of urban farming

21st century farms: UPM agriculture faculty dean Prof Dr Abdul Shukor Juraimi with a vertical farming system the university is working on. Abdul Shukor believes urban agriculture holds great promise in an increasingly urban world.

In Malaysia, Abdul Shukor said rooftop gardening has potential.

By Lim Wing Hooi
The Star
Nov 29, 2014


Universiti Putra Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Yahya Awang added that the plants used in urban agriculture are types that people need daily with economic benefits that people tend to overlook.

“You don’t need to drive to buy a few leaves of lemon grass from a shop, which would cost you time, money and eventually cost the environment more than what the lemon grass would cost if you can just cut them from your backyard,” he said.

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November 30, 2014   Comments Off

Australia: Urban fringe agriculture under threat

Ben And Mark Honey Are Facing Urban Encroachment Near Their Dairy Farm In Kiama, Nsw (Sarina Locke)

Agricultural land on the fringes of our major cities is some of the most productive in the country, but urban encroachment is putting it at risk

Producer Cathy Pryor
Nov 26, 2014


Wayne Shields’ farm has been in his family since the 1970s, when his father first bought the fertile patch of land on the Mornington Peninsula to Melbourne’s east. In those days, the Peninsula was a quiet rural retreat from city life, frequented by holiday makers making a pilgrimage to the coast.

Forty years later, 30 per cent of the Mornington Peninsula is classified as urban and the boundary of metropolitan Melbourne is only 500 metres from the Shields farm.

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November 27, 2014   Comments Off

Vienna, Austria has added 530 hectares (1,310 acres) of fields and forests since WW2

A mangalitsa piglet costing 250 euros can fetch as much as 10,000 euros when served in Vienna’s finest restaurants, according to Christoph Wiesner.

After his election in 1994, Mayor Michael Haeupl expanded urban-farming initiatives that took root in the 1980s.

By Jonathan Tirone
Nov 25, 2014


After his election in 1994, Mayor Michael Haeupl expanded urban-farming initiatives that took root in the 1980s. A biologist who worked at the Natural History Museum before jumping into politics, he added tracts zoned for organic farming and leased them to small businesses, turning the city into one of Austria’s biggest vegetable producers.

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November 26, 2014   Comments Off

40 Percent Of The World’s Cropland Is In Or Near Cities

Gideon and Steven are brothers who farm maize, onions and other vegetables. Photo: Nana Kofi Acquah / IWMI

Somewhere around 1.1 billion acres is being cultivated for food in or within about 12 miles (20 kilometers) of cities.

By Eliza Barclay
November 12, 2014


Anne Thebo, an environmental engineer at the University of California-Berkeley and the study’s lead author, says that the research revealed that a surprisingly large number of urban farms rely on irrigation, especially in South Asia. Since many cities in this region are growing rapidly and already face challenges accessing enough water, these farms end up competing with the city for the scarce resource.

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November 20, 2014   Comments Off

Food and the City

Travelling Allotment Kit.

Our cities should not be exclusively industrial or commercial, and a more appreciative acceptance of urban agriculture is necessary in creating better cities for our future.

By John Wang
Harvard Political Review
Oct 22, 2014


Yet, paradoxically, producing food seems to be precisely what cities are worst at today. On an average day in Hong Kong, where 89 percent of its gross domestic product comes from the service economy, 2290 tons of vegetables are consumed. Only 1.9 percent are produced locally the city. The rest is imported from China and other countries. Agricultural activities make up around 0.1 percent of the city’s GDP. A similar situation holds in Singapore where roughly 90 percent of what is consumed is produced in some other thirty-plus countries. Cities, quite simply put, are incapable of feeding themselves.

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October 28, 2014   Comments Off

Should urban farms and community gardens be allowed to sell produce in Muskegon, Michigan?

The city planning commission is discussing whether urban farms, such as this McLaughlin Grows garden should be allowed to sell their crops. Photo by Dave Alexander.

Supporters said commercial sales would create jobs and promote healthy eating.

By Lynn Moore
October 15, 2014


The city planning commission on Thursday, Oct. 16, will discuss two proposed urban farming zoning amendments that would regulate large gardens operated by private individuals, neighborhood groups and nonprofit organizations.

One proposal would only allow gardens operated by nonprofit and neighborhood groups to accept “donations” for fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants and flowers. The other would allow any urban farm operation, including private ones, to sell produce to schools, restaurants, stores and the farmers market, but not to individuals.

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October 24, 2014   Comments Off

Across the US, Cities Struggle to Figure Out How to Accommodate Urban Farming

Sacramento has its share of farmer’s markets, but there are no urban farms within the city limits. Photo by Robert Couse-Bake.

Widespread interest in urban agriculture is forcing local authorities to re-examine rules that prohibit farming in cities

By Sena Christian
Earth Island Journal
October 2, 2014


Sure, nearly 1.4 million acres of farmland exist around the city, which is located in California’s vast and fertile Central Valley region, and the climate is amenable to growing produce year-round (drought complications notwithstanding). But there are no urban farms in Sacramento. The closest and most prominent urban farm, the 55-acre Soil Born Farms, exists outside the city limits.

Sacramento is relatively progressive when it comes to gardening: The city already allows frontyard vegetable gardens, urban chickens, and community gardens on private land and runs 13 community gardens on public land. But farming – that is, growing crops to sell – has fallen behind.

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October 12, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Farms Disappearing in the Goleta Valley


Environmental benefits provided by urban agriculture include decreased resource consumption and consequently, less waste.

Environmental Defense Center
Sept 24, 2014


This report focuses on the importance of protecting the few remaining parcels of agriculture within the urban boundaries of the Eastern Goleta Valley. “There are benefits to urban agriculture being located adjacent to homes, schools, transportation centers, etc. (e.g. local job creation, reducing the heat island effect, reductions in storm water runoff, and the health benefits of having fresh locally grown food available).

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October 2, 2014   Comments Off

How One Of Washington D.C.’s Worst Heroin Markets Became A Sustainable Food Source


A 100-square-meter plot in a 130-day temperate growing season “can provide most of a four-person household’s total yearly vegetable needs, including much of the household’s nutritional requirements for vitamins A, C, and B complex and iron.”

By Jeff Spross
Think Progress
September 18, 2014


Thirteen years ago, Marvin Gaye Park was a mess.
The park sits in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 7, just east of the Anacostia River. The community is overwhelmingly poor and non-white, and suffers some of the worst rates of crime, unemployment and social breakdown in the city. The park itself had succumbed to disuse. One of the worst PCP and heroin markets in the city had cropped up nearby.

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September 22, 2014   Comments Off

In Salisbury, North Carolina farming will return to the urban core

roadLivingstone College hopes to develop an urban farm on this acreage, which lies off Locke Street on the right. Photo by Mark Wineka.

In the light-industrial areas, urban farms would be limited to wholesale crop production and animal production, which could include slaughter within a fully enclosed facility.

By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
September 4, 2014


Salisbury City Council approved Tuesday a text amendment to the city’s Land Development Ordinance which will allow urban farms and pave the way for Livingstone College to revive a former farming operation on 40 acres stretching from the area of Brenner Avenue, Milford Hills Road and Locke Street.

The college already has cleared significant portions of the land where its urban farm will operate in support of Livingstone’s culinary program.

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September 14, 2014   Comments Off

Urban farming fuss: Dearborn, Michigan project exposes challenges of growing local

Maureen McIlrath and Andrew Gertz both of Dearborn, tour the Crowley Park Sustainable Farm in their neighborhood on July 24, 2014. McIlrath runs the farm, which has endured funding and volunteer problems, and Gertz is one of her more respectful Facebook critics. Photo by Robert Allen/Detroit Free Press.

Because of problems setting up a reliable water source this season, she wasn’t able to rent out plots behind the fencing as she had previously.

By Robert Allen
Detroit Free Press
Sept 1, 2014


“You really have to know what you’re doing or have a support network in order to be successful,” she said, adding that “you really have to have the support of the people around you, most importantly the neighbors.”

McIlrath said people have thrown dog feces over the fence. Some have cut the fence and sneaked in. She works as an insurance agent and said that the attacks have even stretched to e-mails deriding her to professional contacts — and she’s about to take legal action against a few of them.

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September 10, 2014   Comments Off

Integrating Urban Farms into the Social Landscape of Cities


Recommendations for Strengthening the Relationship Between Urban Farms and Local Communities

By Melissa N. Poulsen, MPH & Marie L. Spiker, MSPH, RD Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
With illustrations by Alex Winch July 2014
44 pages
(Must read. Mike)

Executive Summary:

In cities across the U.S., urban farming is gaining traction as a way of productively using degraded vacant land while increasing access to fresh produce within cities. As urban farming continues to be promoted by municipal governments and others, it is important to understand how to ensure these projects are viable. One consideration for urban farms located in populated areas of a city is the reaction of residents who live in neighborhoods surrounding farms. Urban farms differ from urban gardens in their emphasis on income-generating agricultural activity. As such, they can challenge traditional images residents might have for how land is used in city neighborhoods. Urban farming projects are most likely to survive and thrive if they have local support, but how can these projects gain community buy-in? Through interviews with urban farmers, neighborhood leaders, community residents, and other key stakeholders in Baltimore City, we sought to understand the processes that are most effective for gaining the acceptance of city residents for urban farming.

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September 7, 2014   Comments Off

On The Pitfalls Of Urban Food Production


The desire to make urban agricultural a viable commercial reality distracts from more serious issues such as international trade barriers and counterproductive domestic agricultural subsidies.

By Pierre Desrochers
New Geography
Pierre Desrochers Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto and co-author of The Locavore’s Dilemma. In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet, PublicAffairs, 2012.
(Must read. Mike)


Pitfall #1: Urban land is too valuable to be devoted profitably to food production

Pitfall #2: The productions costs of vertical farming are prohibitive

Pitfall #3: Undervaluing wholesalers and retailers

Pitfall #4: An urban location does not keep agricultural pests at bay

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September 7, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Farming Is ‘Not’ Making San Francisco’s Housing Crisis Worse


Community agriculture can improve vacant lots—and it won’t stop anyone from building housing.

By Eli Zigas
City Lab
Sep 4, 2014


The law does not discourage anyone who wants to build from building. Instead, San Francisco’s urban-agriculture incentive zone program targets land that is unlikely to be developed in the near future. This includes sites that are oddly shaped, not well-suited for development, or where the owner (for personal or business reasons) does not intend to put up a building anytime soon. If a property owner wants to build housing or an office building on their vacant lot, they’ll make far more money developing the land then they would from the property tax savings they would receive for committing it to urban agricultural use for five years.

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September 5, 2014   Comments Off