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Toward Sustainability: Novelties, Areas of Learning and Innovation in Urban Agriculture

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jumplGraphic from: If You Plant a Seed by Nadir Nelson.

The described novelties include approaches to enhance the positive impacts of practicing agriculture within urban areas, and some of them have the potential to contribute to societal change and open up opportunities for social learning processes.

By Ina Opitz, Kathrin Specht, Regine Berges, Rosemarie Siebert and Annette Piorr
Sustainability
Vol 8 Iss 4
Apr 1, 2016

Abstract:

Given the search for new solutions to better prepare cities for the future, in recent years, urban agriculture (UA) has gained in relevance. Within the context of UA, innovative organizational and technical approaches are generated and tested. They can be understood as novelties that begin a potential innovation process. This empirical study is based on 17 qualitative interviews in the U.S. (NYC; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago, IL, USA). The aim was to identify: (i) the most relevant areas of learning and innovation; (ii) the drivers of innovation; (iii) the applied novelties and their specific approach to overcoming the perceived obstacles;

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April 15, 2016   Comments Off on Toward Sustainability: Novelties, Areas of Learning and Innovation in Urban Agriculture

Farmland mapping project indicates more than 90 percent of U.S. could eat food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes

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fedlocally

A project by UC Merced Professor Elliott Campbell mapped the potential of every American city to obtain food locally. Research shows unexpectedly large current potential for productive farmland.

By Lorena Anderson
UC Merced News
June 1, 2015

Excerpt:

Campbell and his students looked at the farms within a local radius of every American city, then estimated how many calories those farms could produce. By comparing the potential calorie production to the population of each city, the researchers found the percentage of the population that could be supported entirely by food grown locally.

The researchers found surprising potential in major coastal cities. For example, New York City could feed only 5 percent of its population within 50 miles but as much as 30 percent within 100 miles. The greater Los Angeles area could feed as much as 50 percent within 100 miles.

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March 10, 2016   Comments Off on Farmland mapping project indicates more than 90 percent of U.S. could eat food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes

New York University Study Defines Social Motivations of Urban Farms

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oldparis
Vegetable Gardens, Grenelle (Des jardins maraîchers de Grenelle) Henri Rivière (1864 – 1951). Click on image for larger file.

The study, published in the British Food Journal, shows that three of the four top reasons farmers grow in urban areas – food security, education, community building, and producing food for the market – have social motivations.

New York University
29-Feb-2016

Excerpt:

They analyzed data collected from a national survey of 370 urban farmers. Thirty-five questions, covering the 2012 farm year, addressed food production and marketing practices, risks and challenges, information and technical assistance needs, farm size and location, age of primary farmer, and farm characteristics.

The researchers found that food production is an essential part of the mission for all urban farms, but approximately two thirds of farmers surveyed also expressed a social mission. These social missions are primarily related to food security, education, and community building.

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March 1, 2016   Comments Off on New York University Study Defines Social Motivations of Urban Farms

Urban Agroecology Program at the University of California, Berkeley

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Professor Miguel A Altieri from the University of California, Berkeley. This video shares some of the results from a large scale agroecological experiment established and managed by undergraduate students enrolled in a class on urban agriculture during the fall of 2015.

With the right incentives, urban farmers can produce at least 25% of the vegetables and small animal derived protein needed by urban dwellers.

Excerpt from their website:

Our Urban Agroecology Program at the University of California, Berkeley is implementing a training, research and outreach program which has several activities:

a. short courses to train a critical mass of people on how to use agroecological concepts to design productive urban farms and gardens.

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February 16, 2016   Comments Off on Urban Agroecology Program at the University of California, Berkeley

Potential for urban agriculture on former farmland at Bredtvet and Gaustad, Oslo, Norway

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norw

A study of soil resources, current land use, and users’ and stakeholders’ desires and perceived challenges

By Cristina Gil Ruiz,
NIBIO Report
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research
Jan 2, 2016

SUMMARY:

Oslo has experienced an increase in the number of urban agriculture (UA) projects and growth in public interest. The study investigated how user groups could carry out UA projects in two apparently unoccupied plots of former farmland: Bredtvet and Gaustad. Soil characteristics, current land use, users’ desires, and the challenges they perceived for the development of UA projects were studied. It seems possible to integrate UA projects in both areas without disturbing current land uses, thereby leading to
the recuperation of the soil resources of the former farmland. UA can have multiple purposes, such as food growing, social integration, community building, and health improvement. Major challenges hindering UA projects result from lack of institutional support and funding.

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February 5, 2016   Comments Off on Potential for urban agriculture on former farmland at Bredtvet and Gaustad, Oslo, Norway

Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

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kidscr
Kids get creative with kale in an urban garden in Tacoma, Washington.Kristen McIvor

“It is highly unlikely that urban agriculture will increase incidences of elevated blood Pb for children in urban areas. This is due to the high likelihood that agriculture will improve soils in urban areas, resulting in reduced bioavailability of soil Pb and reduced fugitive dust.”

By Michelle Ma
University of Washington
Feb 2, 2016
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

Using compost is the single best thing you can do to protect your family from any danger associated with lead in urban soils. Good compost will also guarantee that you will have plenty of vegetables to harvest.

That’s the main finding of a paper appearing this month in the Journal of Environmental Quality. The University of Washington-led study looked at potential risks associated with growing vegetables in urban gardens and determined that the benefits of locally produced vegetables in cities outweigh any risks from gardening in contaminated soils.

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February 3, 2016   Comments Off on Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

Urban Farms: Emerging Trends in Real Estate in Canada and the United States 2016

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emrge

What is the “trend” here? Are we likely to see barns and silos dotting our cityscapes? No, that is hardly the point. What is important—and trending—is the new vision that has urban land as that most precious and flexible of resources. The idea that the end of one productive use of a real estate asset spells the extinction of value and the sunsetting of opportunity is an idea whose time is over.

Author: Hugh F. Kelly
Senior Advisers:
Christopher J. Potter, PwC, Canada, Miriam Gurza, PwC, Canada, Frank Magliocco, PwC, Canada
Study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the Urban Land Insitute (ULI)
2015
(Must See. Mike!)

Excerpt:

7. Food Is Getting Bigger and Closer

This may be the ultimate in niche property types: adaptive use with a vengeance (or at least with veggies).

The classic theory of urban places relegates agriculture to the hinterlands, as virtually every kind of vertical construction has superior “highest-and-best-use” characteristics, bringing greater investment returns to land value than growing food. This is absolutely true in most cases. But there are places in more cities than we might imagine where neighborhood land is cheap or older buildings sit idle, and where median incomes are low and the need for fresh food is high. Some are the “hollowed out” areas of Detroit as well as Camden and Newark, New Jersey. But there is a surprisingly significant level of activity in places like Brooklyn, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., where “foodies” of all generations abound.

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November 23, 2015   Comments Off on Urban Farms: Emerging Trends in Real Estate in Canada and the United States 2016

Food securitization and urban agriculture in Hanoi (Vietnam)

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viet5
Urban agriculture in the river bank in Phuc Tan. Photo by Gwenn Pulliat.

The sample of 100 interviewees mostly targeted underprivileged urban dwellers, since common difficulties rarely result in food insecurity for wealthier households.

By Gwenn Pulliat
Article – Journal of Urban Research
Issue 7 2015 Tales of the City
Gwenn Pulliat, Ph.D., is a geographer at the LAVUE Laboratory and a research and teaching assistant at Aix-Marseille University in France. Her current research focuses on food security issues in developing cities in Southeast Asia.

Abstract

Based on a qualitative study of Hanoi underprivileged households’ livelihoods, this article addresses the role of urban and periurban agriculture in the food securitization process. It begins by showing that the spatial dynamics occurring in the emerging metropolis induce strong competition for the various uses of land. The urbanization process is based on a tremendous land-seizure policy, and officials seem to regard farmland as a land reserve instead of as a source of food.

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November 23, 2015   Comments Off on Food securitization and urban agriculture in Hanoi (Vietnam)

Perception and acceptance of agricultural production in and on urban buildings (ZFarming): a qualitative study from Berlin, Germany

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garden

Major perceived benefits of ZFarming include improved consumer awareness, education, and the creation of experimental spaces.

By Kathrin Specht , Rosemarie Siebert, Susanne Thomaier
Agriculture and Human Values
pp 1-17
First online: 23 October 2015

Abstract

Rooftop gardens, rooftop greenhouses and indoor farms (defined as ZFarming) have been established or planned by activists and private companies in Berlin. These projects promise to produce a range of goods that could have positive impacts on the urban setting but also carry a number of risks and uncertainties. In this early innovation phase, the relevant stakeholders’ perceptions and social acceptance of ZFarming represent important preconditions for success or failure of the further diffusion of this practice.

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November 6, 2015   Comments Off on Perception and acceptance of agricultural production in and on urban buildings (ZFarming): a qualitative study from Berlin, Germany

Session proposed on Urban Agriculture at the 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting

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cityperi

A call for papers. Members of the UrbanFoodPlus interdisciplinary research project are proposing a session on Urban Agriculture at the 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, to be held in San Francisco, California, March 29 – April 2, 2016.

Urban Agriculture: Interdisciplinary perspectives

Urban agriculture has received enormous attention from scholars over the past forty years. The particularly dense configuration of multiple resource access routes, legal technicalities and input and output market opportunities found in the city means that urban and periurban agriculture (UPA) is worthy of attention from multiple disciplines. There has been examination of its technical complexities (Amadou et al. 2012; Drechsel and Keraita 2014) alongside its social and political context (Cissé et al. 2005; McClintock 2010).

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September 8, 2015   Comments Off on Session proposed on Urban Agriculture at the 2016 Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting

Urban Food Systems and Global Sustainable Land Use

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xuas
Examples for Urban Agriculture-related Activities of Cities. Click on image for larger file.

Urban Agriculture ranges from subsistence production and processing at household level to fully commercialized agriculture, and typically complements rural agriculture.

By Uwe R. Fritsche, Sabine Laaks, Ulrike Eppler
International Institute for Sustainability Analysis and Strategy
April 2015
Berlin

Excerpt:

Executive Summary:

Global land use is dominated by agricultural production, especially permanent grasslands for animal grazing, and for cultivating feed and food crops. The global food system (value chain of production and consumption of food as well as transport, processing etc.) changed radically over the last centuries, from subsistence agriculture and food production within and close to villages and cities to more rural production and urban consumption patterns nowadays, with a growing role of international trade.

The future of the global food system is rather uncertainty due to climate change impacts, diet dynamics, and yield developments. With cities and urban areas being “hotspots” of sustainability challenges and opportunities, urban food systems (as subsets of the global food system) are of interest.

Cities occupy a share of 0.5% of the global land area, and approx. 4% of the global arable land. Thus, urban food production cannot have a major direct impact on global land use, even if many cities will grow substantially in the future. Yet, there are specific agricultural land uses which can possibly be replaced by so-called Urban Agriculture (UA), and activities favoring urban food systems may have important indirect effects.

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August 6, 2015   Comments Off on Urban Food Systems and Global Sustainable Land Use

Could the trend for urban agriculture be putting a strain on city water supplies?

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cropevap

If all the lawns in this particular neighbourhood were replaced with crops, Johnson and his colleagues estimated that around 37% of the local population would be provided with all their vegetable needs for the year, assuming a 150-day growing season and a density of around 5000 people per square kilometre.

Paper by Mark S Johnson, Michael J Lathuillière, Thoreau R Tooke and Nicholas C Coops
Environmental Research Letters
Vol 10 Number 6
June 9 2015
(Must see. Mike)

Excerpt:

“We estimated that the water demand could increase by more than 50% if urban agriculture were scaled to a significant degree,” said Johnson, who published the findings in Environmental Research Letters (ERL). “Water-smart agriculture – drip irrigation, rain-water harvesting and the like – would help manage the additional water demand and should be encouraged, particularly in regions experiencing water stress.”

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August 4, 2015   Comments Off on Could the trend for urban agriculture be putting a strain on city water supplies?

Thesis: Business models in urban agriculture

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wagroofPhoto by By Shuang Liu

Great diversity in their business operations was found among the 46 projects.

By Shuang Liu
Master thesis – Rural Sociology
for degree of the Master in Organic Agriculture at Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Via the blog of Han Wiskerke
Prof.dr.ir. J.S.C. Wiskerke
Professor and Chair of Rural Sociology
Feb 2015

Excerpt:

In this research, I took urban agriculture as a revenue generating and job creation activity by focusing on more market-oriented projects. I tried to describe individual urban agriculture business operations under the framework of the business model. An online questionnaire was distributed worldwide followed with statistical analysis. The questionnaire was designed using nine business building blocks from Business Model Canvas. Based on the reported business characteristics, a cluster analysis was performed in order to find patterns underlying the diversity of their businesses. In total 46 respondents from 18 countries across 6 continents completed the questionnaire and as sucht contributed to the results of my thesis.

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July 7, 2015   Comments Off on Thesis: Business models in urban agriculture

Thesis: ‘Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture.’

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wein
Through hands-on fieldwork at East New York Farms!, Kate Weiner ’15 examined urban agriculture as a political project for her thesis, “Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture.” (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

My experience at East New York Farms! affirmed for me just how fluid community is.

By Laurie Kenney
Wesleyan University
May 15, 2015

Excerpt:

In this issue of the Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Kate Weiner ’15, an anthropology and environmental studies major.

Q: Can you describe your thesis, “Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture”?

A: My thesis is an exploration of how community, identity and belonging interact in urban agricultural spaces, with my hands-on fieldwork with East New York Farms! serving as a case study for examining urban agriculture as a political project. Through melding creative non-fiction, feminist theory, community politics and environmental studies, the intention of my thesis is to provide a framework for understanding the various social, natural, socioeconomic and political factors that shape community-making within urban agriculture.

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May 22, 2015   Comments Off on Thesis: ‘Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture.’

Managing change and building resilience: A multi-stressor analysis of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Africa and Asia

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1940-50
Tending the garden, Sichuan, China, ca.1940-1950.

Resilience of UPA systems is being undermined by urban growth pressures

By Jon Padghama, Jason Jabbourb, Katie Dietrichc,
Urban Climate
Volume 12, June 2015, Pages 183–204

START and UNEP, along with several partners in Africa and South Asia, recently completed a 9-city assessment of urban and peri-urban agriculture that focused on the environmental dimensions of UPA. An article in Urban Climate synthesizing the findings of the assessment is available here. The article examines how poor governance, haphazard urban growth patterns and extreme events are amplifying impacts on UPA systems that may undermine the capacity of UPA systems to meet urban food as well as adaptation needs.

The assessments can be accessed at http://start.org/programs/upa

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May 16, 2015   Comments Off on Managing change and building resilience: A multi-stressor analysis of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Africa and Asia