WG11 – Urban agriculture II. Grass-root initiatives and community gardens
Over the past 200 years processes of industrialisation and urbanisation disconnected agricultural production from the locus of consumption, resulting in the dominant role of global food supply chains to feed the city. Over the past decade, urban agriculture (UA) has been a policy item in developing countries and provides the opportunity to integrate multiple functions in urban and peri-urban areas. In Europe, cities start to reconnect to their proximate support areas of food production and fresh water sources in combination with a role of urban and peri-urban landscape and nature for the quality of life of individuals and societies. In addition, the development of capital-intensive agriculture as part of the development of ‘Smart Cities’ (combinations of bioreactors, intensive horticulture, and aquaculture in combination with informational systems) in urban fabrics is credited a role in the optimization of resource efficiency with a high visual impact. In the context of the current economic and environmental crisis pragmatic changes however mainly depend on grassroots initiatives and community gardens, which include peri-urban forest gardens and agro-recreational landscapes. UA and urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry (UPAF) respond to a more acute crisis in the financial system, and vacant plots of lands and abandoned buildings are seen as potential places for food production and social activity. This increasingly comes to the attention of private real estates and social housing companies. Consequently, UPAF will likely bring with it many changes to how society and policy makers think about the way food is sourced.
This Working group calls for contributions that identify, map and analyse the benefits of this large variety in organizational design, grassroots initiatives and community gardens in particular, and calls participants to share experiences that might not directly aim to but reflect effective and successful approaches for enhancing a sustainable reconnection of agricultural production and the locus of consumption. Contributions should be on urban and/or peri-urban dynamics. We welcome papers that bring evidence for the emergence of multi-functional, ‘edible’ landscapes in urban and peri-urban areas in the global North and global South, and interpret these dynamics in terms of contributing to sustainable, resilient urban development and/or the construction of strategic food reserves in densely populated areas. Papers can have a focus on food security through local, healthy food provisioning and/or the linkages between multifunctional agriculture and forestry (for example offering amenity, recycling, closing of water and nutrient cycles, potentially wildlife and biodiversity gains), food chains and local food systems for greater social justice and social inclusion. More in particular papers could address one or more of the following questions:
• Which new initiatives are emerging in the global North and in the global South, and what is their impact?
• How do they scale-up? What are critical factors for success and failure?
• How can they be connected with and/ or strengthen (urban) food policies?
• What will happen to the characteristics of urban and peri-urban green space if cities have a greater sway over policy?
Lola Domínguez García, Paul Swagemakers, Esther Veen and Talis Tischenkopf