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Urban agriculture: a global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand

Figure 1. PAN a (Percentage of urban Area Needed) to meet the actual consumption of vegetables by urban dwellers through UA (target A). Click on image for larger file.

UA should also be actively promoted in smaller cities, rather than focussing exclusively on large cities, because smaller urban areas actually comprise the majority of the total urban area.

By F Martellozzo1, J-S Landry1, D Plouffe1, V Seufert1, P Rowhani and N Ramankutty1
Environmental Research Letters Volume 9 Number 6
Published 18 June 2014


Urban agriculture (UA) has been drawing a lot of attention recently for several reasons: the majority of the world population has shifted from living in rural to urban areas; the environmental impact of agriculture is a matter of rising concern; and food insecurity, especially the accessibility of food, remains a major challenge. UA has often been proposed as a solution to some of these issues, for example by producing food in places where population density is highest, reducing transportation costs, connecting people directly to food systems and using urban areas efficiently. However, to date no study has examined how much food could actually be produced in urban areas at the global scale.

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August 5, 2014   Comments Off

Nourishing the city: The rise of the urban food question in the Global North

1811. ‘Implements Animated’ by Charles Williams.

“… the new political visibility of urban agriculture in the post-industrial cities of the Global North,”

By Kevin Morgan
School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University, UK
Urban Studies published by SAGE online 21 May 2014

Excerpt from: ‘The rise of urban agriculture’

Once considered to be ‘the ultimate oxymoron’, urban agriculture is now part of a burgeoning movement that aims to ‘farm the city’ for a whole series of reasons, including growing food for personal or commercial purposes, nurturing social capital and fashioning alternative food networks. For some radical geographers, urban agriculture can even help redress social and ecological alienation in capitalist societies by helping to ‘re-establish a conscious metabolic relationship between humans and our biophysical environment by reintegrating intellectual and manual labour’ (McClintock, 2010: 202).

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June 9, 2014   Comments Off

Chapter 18 – Urban Agriculture: The Allotment Gardens as Structures of Urban Sustainability

Organic allotment gardens on Cascais.

Complete Chapter On-line

By Rute Sousa Matos and Desidério Sales Batista
CHAIA (Center of Art History and Artistic Investigation), University of Évora, Évora, University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal

In Advances in Landscape Architecture
Edited by Murat Özyavuz
924 pages, Publisher: InTech,
Chapters published July 01, 2013


Although urban farming is conditioned by many social and political circumstances and political regimes, urban legislators and support institutions may make a substantial contribution to the development of a safe and sustainable farming through:

-The creation of a guiding environmental policy and the formal acceptance of allotment gardens as an urban feature;

The strengthening of the access to urban voids and to the safety of farming use;

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March 29, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Agriculture Policy Making in New York’s “New Political Spaces”

‘Somerset Gardens’ by Jenny Beck. Date painted 1999.

Strategizing for a Participatory and Representative System

By Nevin Cohen, Kristin Reynolds
The New School, New York, NY, USA
Journal of Planning Education and Research
March 17, 2014
Complete paper on-line.



U.S. cities have implemented policies to support urban agriculture (UA), often developed in “new political spaces” formed when conventional policy mechanisms are unable to resolve municipal problems. This article examines these processes in New York City, particularly aspects of UA that existing policies, plans, and research strategies have not fully addressed. Interviews with UA stakeholders and an analysis of the city’s UA policy-making processes show that resource needs, along with race- and class-based disparities within the UA system remain. We recommend several policy and research strategies for creating a more participatory, representative, and multifunctional UA system.

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March 28, 2014   Comments Off

The rise of the ‘food charter’: A mechanism to increase urban agriculture

‘Geographisch-historisches Handbuch von Bayern’. Click on image for larger file.

By Michael Hardmana, Peter J. Larkhamb,
Land Use Policy
Available online Mar 22, 2014


Food charters are on the rise and are increasingly used as tools to enable urban agriculture.

Charters can be positive mechanisms for encouraging engagement between key actors in the city.

There is some reluctance to adopt the concept has been shown.

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March 28, 2014   Comments Off

UN Report on ‘Right to Food’ supports urban agriculture

Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/65 – 1637/38). ‘Spring’, between 1622-35. Part of a series of four pictures of seasonal activities, this painting illustrates spring chores in a garden. The edges of the raised beds are being firmed up, the soil prepared, and the first plantings set out. Click on image for larger file.

“Urban and peri-urban agriculture, as well as the development of short food chains connecting cities to their local foodshed, will therefore play an increasingly important role.”

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food,
Olivier De Schutter
Final report: The transformative potential of the right to food
Jan 24, 2014


38. A wide range of social innovations have emerged in recent years to support the rebuilding of local food systems, primarily by reconnecting urban consumers with local food producers.

In Canada, the Special Rapporteur learned about a number of initiatives that seek to support relocalized food systems. In Montreal, for instance, urban agriculture initiatives include a community gardening programme managed by the City, and collective gardens managed by community organizations, with impacts that go beyond improved food security and nutrition, contributing also to educational and empowerment goals.

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March 21, 2014   Comments Off

Fully-funded PhD exploring urban agriculture up for grabs

augSept1943Comic cover from Aug/Sept 1943.

“Food security: The Relevance and Potential of Urban Agriculture in the Global North”

The closing date for applications is 31 March 2014; shortlisted candidates will be notified during April 2014.

University of Salford, Manchester
Supervisors: Dr M.Adams (60%), Dr M.Hardman (30%), Prof P.James (10%)

Food security, the availability, access and utilisation of food, is a major political concern, particularly in cities. Urban Agriculture (UA) involves growing food in urban contexts and is credited to facilitate urban food security.

This studentship will:
• focus on how UA fits into current understandings of urban food security
• identify the potential of UA for supplying safe, fresh food to urban households

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March 14, 2014   Comments Off

Critical geography of urban agriculture

Woodcut of man at work in herb garden by Hans Weidig for The Book Of Medicine.

We need a geography of urban agriculture which goes beyond the naive and unproblematic representation of urban food production practices, able to expose the socio-environmental exclusionary dynamics which are embedded into them.

By Chiara Tornaghi
Progress in Human Geography Journal
Feb 2014
University of Leeds, UK
School of Geography, University of Leeds UK.


Urban agriculture is a broad term which describes food cultivation and animal husbandry on urban and peri-urban land. Grassroots as well as institution-led urban agricultural projects are currently mushrooming in the cities of the Global North, reshaping urban landscapes, experimenting with alternatives to the capitalist organization of urban life and sometimes establishing embryonic forms of recreating the Commons. While this renewed interest in land cultivation and food production is attracting increasing interest in a wide range of disciplines – from planning to landscape and cultural studies – it remains a very marginal and almost unexplored field of human geography.

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February 13, 2014   Comments Off

Facilitating outcomes: multi-stakeholder processes for influencing policy change on urban agriculture in selected West African and South Asian cities.


Three cities in West Africa (Accra [Ghana]; Freetown [Sierra Leone]; and Ibadan [Nigeria]) and two cities in South Asia (Gampaha [Sri Lanka] and Magadi [Karnataka, India]

By Amerasinghe, P.; Cofie, O. O.; Larbi, T. O.; Drechsel, P. 2013. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 34p.
(IWMI Research Report 153)


The Multi-stakeholder Policy Formulation and Action Planning approach was applied in the context of a multi-city study to influence and/or change policies that govern urban agriculture practices in three African and two Asian countries. Although the approach was successful and resulted in remarkable outcomes, it showed space for improvement to facilitate its application. The study also showed that there are significant regional differences in how best to achieve policy change, which require careful attention in order to achieve the highest returns on investment in the facilitation of impact pathways.

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January 26, 2014   Comments Off

1914 Thesis: ‘Agriculture for Urban Children’


“Our country is an agricultural country and must always remain at least partly so, if we are to prosper as a nation.”

By George L. Hensley A. B.
Master of Letters
Kansas State Teacher’s College
Berkeley, California,
Dec 1914
(Must see. Mike)


Agriculture, an aid to self-realization

Many contributory reasons for the introduction of agriculture into our urban schools can be given. It has a wide range of interests common to children. It satisfies the natural desires of the child for the active, the concrete and the personal. by pitting one child against another and both against the forces of nature. If affords him the opportunities for emulation which he craves.

The following concrete summary of reasons for the introduction of agriculture was culled from the writings of W.R. Hart of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, G. F. Warren of the New York State College of Agriculture and W. H. French of the Michigan Agricultural College.

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January 25, 2014   Comments Off

Thesis: Edinburgh’s Allotment Movement 1921-2001


“When Plotters Meet’ by Caitlin O’Brian DeSilvey

By Caitlin O’Brian DeSilvey
Masters of Science Geography
University of Edinburgh 2001
113 pages
(Must read. Mike)


During the twentieth century, Edinburgh allotment holders engaged in repeated efforts to defend their gardens against competing land uses. Allotment movement appeals for security of tenure and municipal investment mobilized different strategic representations of allotments’ functional and symbolic value. This thesis traces five interwoven narrative strands, which represent coexisting – but often conflicting – versions of the allotment. These strands of meaning and motive cohere around the following themes: poor-relief and social reform; recreation and leisure; urban ecology and town planning; land rights activism; and, patriotic national self-provisioning. Parliamentary allotment inquiries in 1921 and 2001 bracket my analysis thematically and chronologically.

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November 17, 2013   Comments Off

Agriculture Urbaine Et Périurbaine Pour La Sécurité Alimentaire En Afrique De L’ouest. Le Cas Des Micro-Jardins Dans La Municipalité De Dakar


Phd Thesis in French – Abstract in English

By Tommaso Sposito
Defence date: 17-Dec-2010
University/Publisher Università degli Studi di Milano
The author wrote his PhD thesis about UPA in West Africa in French. His focus was on Cotonou (Benin) and Dakar, especially the micro garden project(s) in Dakar. He has followed micro garden development since 2005.


In the context of Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture (UPA) micro-gardens, a simplified version of hydroponics, represent an interesting opportunity for producers, because they are characterized by a high efficiency in the use of water (2-3 l/m2/per day) and by a great spatial versatility. Moreover the vegetables grown through this technique are of high quality, because quality water and no chemical pesticide are used. These characteristics improve the poorest families’ access to horticultural products, they contribute to diet diversification of poor (and also non poor) families and thanks to surplus selling they answer the need to create an extra source of income.

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October 18, 2013   Comments Off

White Spaces in Black and Latino Places: Urban Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

Urban farmers at OC Haley Gardens.

White Spaces, Ethnic Places: A Gap in Urban Agriculture Research

By Brandon Hoover, Ursinus College
Journal of Agriculture and Food Systems and Community Development
pp. 109–115
Published online August 26, 2013


In recent years urban agriculture has gained the attention of policy-makers, social organizers, and academics alike. This new wave of work and attention focuses on projects that ameliorate issues ranging from food insecurity to urban blight, and environmental degradation to the subversion of industrial food production. These projects consist of a variation of community gardens, educational programs, demonstration farms, and entrepreneurial production farms (I will identify all of these under the umbrella of urban agriculture (UA)).

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October 11, 2013   Comments Off

Netherlands’s Report: Urban agriculture beneficial to society


“Although these are positive results, it is too early to conclude that all urban agriculture projects in the Netherlands can be run profitably.”

By Applied Plant Research
Wageningen UR
Report Published Sept. 2013
In Dutch with some English, 101 page

Urban agriculture always generates a great deal of enthusiasm. However, many people wonder what the ultimate benefits are. To clarify this issue, researchers from Wageningen UR have produced, together with Witteveen+Bos consultancy, a social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) for three urban agriculture projects.

The researchers analysed three cases: an existing project, “Food Garden Rotterdam” and the plans for “Regional development De Nieuwe Warande Tilburg” and “Hazennest Farm” in Tilburg. The analysis revealed a large number of social benefits such as: health benefits for the volunteers due to a healthier lifestyle, improved liveability (because of the recreational possibilities), more pleasurable living and more job opportunities.

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October 9, 2013   Comments Off

Biogas slurry and urine use in large scale vertical hydroponic greenhouses

Plantagon vertical greenhouse designs. Upper right: will be built in Linköping Sweden in 2014. Source: Plantagon 2013.

Comparative Analysis of Biogas Slurry and Urine as Sustainable Nutrient Sources for Hydroponic Vertical Farming

Thesis by Vlad A. Dumitrescu
Master’s programme Science for Sustainable Development
Water and Environmental Studies Department of Thematic Studies Linköping University

For my thesis I conducted research for Plantagon, the Swedish company aiming to build a large scale vertical hydroponic greenhouse in the city of Linköping. I looked at sustainable nutrient sources for hydroponics, namely biogas slurry and urine.


Sustainable alternatives to using mined nutrients in agriculture must be found in order to limit environmental impacts such as eutrophication, habitat destruction and greenhouse gas emissions. Biogas slurry and urine recycled to hydroponic food production (a type of soilless agriculture) have the potential of providing inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus, the main essential nutrients required for plant growth. A Life Cycle Inventory Assessment (LCI) methodology has been used to compare the systems of producing artificial fertilizer, biogas slurry and urine based nutrient solutions for the growth of Brassica rapa L. (Chinese cabbage) in the context of a large scale hydroponic vertical farm.

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September 21, 2013   Comments Off