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Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: Empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries


By Alberto Zezza and Luca Tasciottia
Agricultural Development Economics Division,
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy
Available online 14 May 2010.


Urban agriculture may have a role to play in addressing urban food insecurity problems, which are bound to become increasingly important with the secular trend towards the urbanization of poverty and of population in developing regions. Our understanding of the importance, nature and food security implications of urban agriculture is however plagued by a lack of good quality, reliable data. While studies based on survey data do exist for several major cities, much of the evidence is still qualitative if not anecdotal. Using a recently created dataset bringing together comparable, nationally representative household survey data for 15 developing or transition countries, this paper analyzes in a comparative international perspective the importance of urban agriculture for the urban poor and food insecure.

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May 20, 2010   Comments Off on Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: Empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries

BrightFarm Systems develops futuristic urban agriculture projects

GreenMarket sustainable food production facility, United Arab Emerates

GreenMarket, UAE

The GreenMarket utilizes BrightFarm Systems pioneering rooftop and facade mounted, sustainable greenhouse designs, to integrate hydroponic food production into civic buildings. The layers of vegetation encased in the walls of the building provide shade for the building interior.

The interior of the building structure is designed to serve as marketplaces, recreation centers, meeting halls, or any function that can benefit from enclosed, naturally lit, shaded, conditioned or semi-conditioned space. In the Abu Dhabi climate, these spaces will be extremely appealing in the summer, but should also be very comfortable at all times of year.

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June 10, 2009   1 Comment

São Paulo, Brazil – Cities Without Hunger – With employment and income, it all begins in a garden.


Already 13 gardens, 665 persons with direct benefit, 2,660 persons with indirect benefit, 48 professional training courses taught.

São Paulo, a superlative metropolis, boasting impressive numbers revealing of its grandeur, riches, and differences too. A city that together with other 38 municipalities forms the so-called Greater São Paulo, awarding it the title of the world’s fourth largest conurbation, with 19 million inhabitants, while São Paulo city alone is home to eleven million people.

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January 4, 2009   Comments Off on São Paulo, Brazil – Cities Without Hunger – With employment and income, it all begins in a garden.

1937 – Children Boxing in an Allotment Garden


2nd July 1937: Children in the allotments of the London Children’s Gardens Fund at Clerkenwell take a break from gardening with their weekly bout of boxing. Larger image here.

November 30, 2008   Comments Off on 1937 – Children Boxing in an Allotment Garden

Urban farming school takes root

Photo By Steve Bosch. Kent Mullinix is a sustainable agriculture specialist at Kwantlen College Institute for Sustainable Horticulture.

Instruction would be based on intensive farming on small plots.

By Larry Pynn
The Vancouver Sun – 29 Nov 2008

A school of urban farming — a North American first — is finding fertile soil in Richmond BC Canada.

Richmond’s parks, recreation, and cultural services committee has unanimously endorsed the concept of an urban farm school and directed staff to investigate city land for such a project, either at Terra Nova park at the west end of Westminster Highway, or the south end of Gilbert Road.

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November 29, 2008   Comments Off on Urban farming school takes root

A Compost Heap – Plant Canteen – 1944 cartoon

Watch Plant Canteen – A Compost Heap – 1944 cartoon

1944 Cartoon – Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries “Dig For Victory Leaflet No 7

Commentary – “Thanks Mr Middleton. Mr Middleton – Good Afternoon, we all expect vegetables to feed us but we’ve got to see that we feed them properly too. Suppose we get down to the root of the matter. Plants need food just as much as we do, and it must be in a form they can assimilated. This is where humas comes in. Humas is composed mainly of decayed vegetable matter.

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November 27, 2008   Comments Off on A Compost Heap – Plant Canteen – 1944 cartoon

Cross-country ride urges White House to add organic farm

Photo from the Birmingham News: Casey Gustowarow and Daniel Bowman Simon are driving around the country in an eye-catching bus, topped with an organic garden, gathering signatures on a petition calling for President-Elect Obama to plant an organic farm on the White House Lawn.

By Thomas Spencer
Oct 14, 2008

Using the White House grounds to produce food is not a new idea. Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden during World War 2 to encourage American to increase food production.

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November 12, 2008   Comments Off on Cross-country ride urges White House to add organic farm

Networking Event on Urban Agriculture and Food Security, World Urban Forum, Nanjing, November 5, 2008


The RUAF Foundation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Development Research Centre, Urban Harvest (CGIAR), the Chinese Urban Agriculture Association and the Nanjing Agriculture and Forestry Bureau are organizing a networking event “Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture for Resilient Cities (Green, Productive and Socially Inclusive)” to take place on Wednesday, November 5th, 14.00-16.00 hours, in the Auditorium, at the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China. There will also be a booth at the Exhibition and a tour to some urban and peri-urban agricultural sites.

See program flyer here.

October 30, 2008   1 Comment

The Urban Potato: It’s Time Has Come


1st prize: Eitan Abramovich, Peru
“Harvest of native potatoes”
International Year of the Potato World Photography Contest

The Urban Potato: It’s Time Has Come
By Jac Smit
October 29, 2008
From the Desk of Jac Smit

A few years ago I stood on the roof of a hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti. The surface was half straw and other half organic thrash and half potato foliage. A week later I visited a friend in Washington DC. He took me out to his porch and there was a bale of hay [wire bound] with potato foliage on three sides.

I soon learned that these two cases were examples of “Lazy Man Farming”. Lazy Man was invented in Germany in the 19th Century. Its most cited practice is roadside cultivation in Newfoundland Canada. There the farmers collect seaweed, off load it on the side of the road, and insert seedlings.

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October 30, 2008   1 Comment

MSNBC TV feature – Food from your backyard

“As the global food crisis drags on, urban farmers are on the rise. NBC’s Dawna Friesen looks at cutting costs by growing your own dinner.” 6 minute video.

The camera travels to many of the stories you see on this web site ( including London backyards, balconies, historical wartime footage, city farmers in Cuba, Chicago gardeners selling to restaurants, greenhouses on NY roofs, vertical farms, Royal Park and White House food gardens, and the Edible Estates author. This video reaches a huge worldwide TV audience.

October 27, 2008   Comments Off on MSNBC TV feature – Food from your backyard

The City of Fresno is Trying to Evict Hmong Gardeners

Photo by Mike Rhodes

City of Fresno Wants to Destroy Garden to Make Way for Police Station

By Mike Rhodes,
Indybay, Oct 21, 2008

The City of Fresno is attempting to evict a group of Hmong gardeners from plots they have farmed for 13 years. The Hmong Community Garden, which sits on 4 acres of public land, provides food for 300 members of the Hmong community. Spokesperson Mai Summer Vue said that to the gardeners, the garden is “a way of life, a peace of mind, food for their family, exercise, therapy, stress relief, and it eases their mental health issues…caused by the Vietnam War.”

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October 27, 2008   Comments Off on The City of Fresno is Trying to Evict Hmong Gardeners

Documentary – ‘Homegrown’ The 21st Century Family Farm


The Film

HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While “living off the grid”, they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it’s like to live like “Little House on the Prairie” in the 21st Century.

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October 20, 2008   1 Comment

In every backyard, a garden plot

Photo by Donald Street Farms

Entrepreneurs set out to farm unused residential yards – and make money to boot

By Moira Dann
The Globe and Mail
October 20, 2008

VICTORIA — It all started in June for Deb Heighway with a call from her brother, Craig, proving that good ideas grow roots and flourish quickly. He had declared himself CPO – “chief pitchfork operator” – of an urban farming venture in Vancouver, and he urged her to give the concept a try.

“The timing was right, as I had just finished a contract,” said Ms. Heighway, who works helping people who have suffered brain injury. “And I said: ‘Why not?’ ”

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October 20, 2008   Comments Off on In every backyard, a garden plot

June 2009 – forthcoming book ‘FarmCity: The Education of an Urban Farmer’

Photo by Novella Carpenter. Larger image here.

Novella Carpenter is the author of the forthcoming book FarmCity: The Education of an Urban Farmer (Penguin Press). “I studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for two years. My journalistic work reflects my interests–in farming, food, the environment, and culture. In a nutshell, I like to tell stories about people who follow unconventional paths.”

Novella blogs her life on her urban farm at ‘Ghost Town Farm’. Here is an early blog entry by the author.

Feb 16, 2007

I first started farming in the city of Seattle in 1998. At the time, I was a book editor at Sasquatch Books, and one of our favorite authors was Carla Emery. She wrote a book called the Encyclopedia of Country Living. One day I was flipping through the newsprint pages of the book (this is how editors procrastinate) and happened upon a section called How to Build a Chicken House.

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October 14, 2008   Comments Off on June 2009 – forthcoming book ‘FarmCity: The Education of an Urban Farmer’

North American Urban Ag Alliance Debuts at Conference on Community Food Security

Photo by Cynthia Price. Larger image here.
MetroAg co-coordinators Joe Nasr, James Kuhns and Martin Bailkey, with Marielle Dubbeling of RUAF and Joe’s mother in Philadelphia for the event.

MetroAg promises to bring support and recognition to growing urban agriculture movement

Article by Kristin Reynolds in ‘Urban Grown’ the Newsletter of the Kansas City Centre for Urban Agriculture. Link to all ‘Urban Grown’ issues here.

In conjunction with the annual Community Food Security Coalition Conference, a newly-formed organization held its first official forum on urban agriculture at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 4th, 2008.

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October 12, 2008   Comments Off on North American Urban Ag Alliance Debuts at Conference on Community Food Security