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Urban agriculture I. Urban agriculture and Urban Food Strategies

Posted on | February 8, 2015 | Comments Off

WG10 – Urban agriculture I. Urban agriculture and Urban Food Strategies: Processes, Planning, Policies and Potential to Reconnect Society and Food

Urban -regional- agriculture is highly valued by city dwellers as well as local authorities because it provides them with social, environmental and green amenities that directly contribute to the regional quality of life. The urban interest in the provenance of food also inspires entrepreneurs to develop innovative local food related business. Despite this growing interest, however, urban agriculture remains brittle, fragmented and without coherence. It still is a niche innovation; an innovation which is part of a burgeoning interest to integrate food in the urban fabric, i.e. to stimulate regional food systems. City authorities can take the lead in embedding urban agriculture in the urban daily life by facilitating local oriented food initiatives and business, creating networks of these local initiatives, linking national and local policies and developing a platform to share knowledge and experience. There are some successful examples around the world where authorities and the local food movement create room for a symbiotic development.

One option for a comprehensive approach to regional food systems are Urban Food Strategies (UFS) that have developed recently in leading cities across the world, like Toronto, New York and London. We refer to the term ‘Urban Food Strategy’ as a process consisting of how an urban region envisions change in its food system, and how it strives towards this change, in its policy, governance, planning and daily practice. Such UFS provide a new and innovative perspective on food: from regional (agricultural) development to urban policy, thus inspiring the current worldwide discussion on the future of our food system.

This working group aims at a better understanding of the functioning of these urban food strategies in terms of policy, governance, planning and daily practice. Likewise we welcome all types of papers which lead to a vibrant discussion on the potential of reconnecting society & food and urban & agriculture. Can we extract general lessons? This working group addresses the following questions:
• Which elements do urban food strategies include?
• How do urban food strategies function? Which key processes and actors are at stake?
• How should the city govern between grass roots innovation (niches) and structural change?
• What is the actual impact of such strategies on how food is perceived in a city region?
• How could urban -and regional- agriculture be embedded in these urban food strategies?
• How to balance urban agriculture with other forms of land use like parks, playgrounds, real estate?


Jan Eelco Jansma, PPO Wageningen UR, The Netherlands
Heidrun Moschitz, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Switzerland


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