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Urban agriculture III: Effects of UA

Posted on | February 8, 2015 | Comments Off

WG12 – Urban agriculture III: Effects of UA. Urban agriculture: a potential tool for local and global food security, economic, social and environmental resilience, and community health and wellness

Urban agriculture (UA), defined as the growing and consumption of food in and around cities, has been identified to have the potential to enhance individual and community health and wellness, increase local and global food security, strengthen city economies, reduce human impact on the environment, and promote a sense of community and self-determination. However, quantitative data supporting these claims are scarce. Community gardening has long been recognized to improve food security and dietary habits leading to increased vegetable intake and positive health outcomes. It has also been seen to promote social cohesion and a sense of community. More recently urban agriculture has been considered as a driver of local and global food security with a potential for meeting a significant portion of a city’s vegetable and animal diet locally. Reports indicate that urban and periurban agriculture provides as much as 90 percent of leafy vegetables and 60 percent of milk sold in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as well as 76 percent of vegetables in Shanghai and 85 percent in Beijing. In the United States, households met 40 percent of the nation’s fresh vegetable demand during World War II. A recent scenario analysis has revealed that the City of Cleveland (Ohio, USA) has the capacity to achieve 22% to 100% self-reliance in fresh produce, honey, chicken, and shell eggs, preventing $29M to $115M in direct annual economic leakage. As a result, UA is also becoming a key land use in cities, such as for Chicago (USA) where up to 26.5ha are currently devoted to food production. While these data are encouraging, many claims of the benefits of urban agriculture still need to be substantiated.

We seek papers quantifying impacts of urban agriculture on all three pillars of sustainability: social (access to food, social cohesion, participation, health and wellness, etc.), ecological (GHG emission reduction, biodiversity, heat islands, waste recycling, storm water containment, etc.) and economic (number of jobs, income, innovation, place making, resource leakage prevention, etc.). Topics may include but are not limited to:

* What role can modern urban agriculture, including building-integrated agriculture and vertical farming, play in reducing pressure on land and enhancing local and global food security?

* What is the extent of resource recovery from urban waste streams to meet the nutrient, water, and energy demands of growing urban agriculture?

* What are the quantifiable ecological benefits of urban agriculture? Does UA really reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or increase biodiversity compared to the provision of food via conventional agriculture?

* What trade-offs are associated with urban agriculture? Detailed LCA analysis but also societal cost-benefit analysis studies or any other systematic approach to measure the impact of urban agriculture are welcome; impacts can be measurable or speculative.

* Economic and ecological benefits or social cohesion can be tackled by urban agriculture projects but also by other projects. We welcome studies that provide guidance for policy makers to inform a choice between different policy arrangements to reach the various goals attributed to urban agriculture projects. Also which theoretical concepts help to explain the effectiveness of urban agriculture projects, in comparison to other approaches to solve societal problems?

* It is often argued that if people grow their own food, they (and their children) also have more healthy eating habits and adopt a healthier life style in general. We welcome research to support these claims and we also want to see urban agriculture compared with more conventional public education programs aimed at healthy eating habits.

* How does the move to systematically monitor and evaluate the impacts of urban agriculture affect its character and operation, as a bottom-up self-organising urban activity? Which regime actors define what measures to quantify the impacts or urban agriculture and how does this further professionalise or actually impair urban agriculture’s potential to bring about a more sustainable urban food provisioning?

Convenors:

Parwinder Grewal (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA), Jan Willem van der Schans (Agricultural Economics Institute, Wageningen University), Moya Kneafsey (Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, Coventry University), and Esther Sanyé-Mengual (Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, ICTA-UAB Barcelona, Spain)

E-mail: pgrewal@utk.edu

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