Building knowledge in urban agriculture: the challenges of local food production in São Paulo and Melbourne


Urban environments face multiple burdens and significant challenges related to food safety and sustainable agriculture. Urban agriculture remains fragmented and incipient in many cities worldwide. In their efforts to ensure sustainable urban food systems and provide public access to affordable and quality food, city governments must identify and pursue emerging opportunities. This study analyzed how São Paulo and Melbourne are working to overcome the related challenges.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. ACFCGN, Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network. (2018). Directory, data and mapping.

  2. Afshin, A., Sur, P. J., Fay, K. A., Cornaby, L., Ferrara, G., Salama, J. S., et al. (2019). Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet, 393(10184), 1958–1972.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Alejandro, C. F. D. (1985). Argentina, Australia and Brazil before 1929. In D. C. M. Platt & G. di Tella (Eds.), Argentina, Australia and Canada studies in comparative development 1870–1965 (pp. 95–109). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Burton, P., Lyons, K., Richards, C., Amati, M., Rose, N., Desfours, L., et al. (2013). Urban food security, urban resilience and climate change (p. 170). Gold Coast: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Carey, R., Larsen, K., Sheridan, J., & Candy, S. (2016). Melbourne’s food future: Planning a resilient city foodbowl. Parkville: Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab, The University of Melbourne.

    Google Scholar 

  6. CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies). (2019). Welcome to CERES.

  7. City of Melbourne. (2008). Future Melbourne Plan. Retrieved June 25, 2019, available in

  8. City of Melbourne. (2013). Community garden policy. Retrieved June 25, 2019, available in

  9. City of Melbourne. (2015). A guide to community gardening in the City of Melbourne. Retrieved June 25, 2019, available in

  10. City of Yarra. (2019). Urban agriculture strategy 2019–2023. City of Yarra: Fitzroy.

  11. Cultivating Community. (2009). Cultivating community employment information kit. Retrieved May 23, 2019 available in

  12. Duran, A. C., Roux, A. V. D., Larorre, M. R. D. O., & Jaime, P. C. (2013). Neighborhood socioeconomic characteristics and differences in the availability of healthy food stores and restaurants in São Paulo, Brazil. Health & Place, 23(2013), 39–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. EIU, The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2018). The Global Liveability Index 2018: A free overview. Retrieved June 25, 2019 available in

  14. Ferreira, J. M. R. (2015). Caracterização dos agricultores orgânicos das feiras da cidade de São Paulo. Thesis presented to the Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba.

  15. Giacchè, G., & Porto, L. (2015). Políticas públicas de agricultura urbana e periurbana: uma comparação entre os casos de São Paulo e Campinas. Informações Econômicas, SP, 45(6), 45–60.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hearn, A. H. (2012). What can South America and Australia learn from each other in relation to China? In Ariel C. Armony (Ed.), Setting the Agenda: Asia and Latin America in the 21st Century (pp. 33–38). Miami: University of Miami.

    Google Scholar 

  17. IBGE, Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (2017). Censo Agropecuário 2017. Censo Agropecuário [Internet]. [cited 2019 May 4]. Retrieved June 22, 2019 available in

  18. Kingsley, J. Y., & Townsend, M. (2006). ‘Dig in’ to social capital: Community gardens as mechanisms for growing urban social connectedness. Urban Policy and Research, 24(4), 525–537.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kinupp, V. F., & Lorenzi, H. (2014). Plantas Alimentícias não convencionais (PANC) no Brasil. Guia de identificação, aspectos nutricionais e receitas ilustradas. São Paulo: Instituto Plantarum de Estudos da Flora.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Lawrence, S. M. (1997). The congruent garden: An investigation into the role of the domestic garden in satisfying fundamental human needs. Sydney: University of New South Wales.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Longbottom, J., & Knight, B. (2018). Melbourne’s population explosion threatens to create a ‘Bangkok situation’. ABC News, 16th October. Retrieved June 25, 2019 available in

  22. McSweeney, P. F., Williams, C. C., Nettle, R. A., Rayner, J. P., & Brumfield, R. G. (2014). Extension approaches for horticultural innovation. In G. Dixon & D. Aldous (Eds.), Horticulture: Plants for people and places (Vol. 3, pp. 1117–1138). Dordrecht: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Moreland City Council. (2017). Moreland Food System Strategy 2017–2020. Available in–20172020.pdf.

  24. Nakamura, Angelica Campos. (2017). Cooperapas: agricultura e cooperativismo no extremo sul do município de São Paulo.

  25. NGIA, Nursery and Garden Industry Australia Limited. (2019). Annual report—2018–2019. Nursery & Garden Industry Australia Limited.

  26. Oliveira, Lya Cynthia Porto de. (2017). Redes, ideias e ação pública na agricultura urbana: São Paulo, Montreal e Toronto.

  27. Orsini, F., Kahane, R., Nono-Womdim, R., & Gianquinto, G. (2013). Urban agriculture in the developing world. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 33, 695–720.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Prefeitura de São Paulo (2017). A dinâmica do IDH-M e suas dimensões entre 2000 e 2010 no município de São Paulo. Retrieved June 25, 2019 available in

  29. Rose, N., & Hearn, A. H. (2017). Food Systems and the Role of Local Government. Melbourne: SUSTAIN.

  30. Ruel, T. R., Agnes, R. Q., & Mysbah, B. (2017). Nutrition-sensitive agriculture what have we learned and where do we go from here? International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). IFPRI discussion paper 01681.

  31. Sheridan, J., Carey, R., & Candy, S. (2016). Foodprint Melbourne: What does it take to feed a city?

  32. UNDP, United Nations Development Programme. (2014). Human development atlas in the Brazilian Metropolitan Regions. Brasilia: UNDP, IPEA, FJP.

    Google Scholar 

  33. United Nation. (2015). Transforming our World: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved June 25, 2019 available in

  34. Urban, R. (2018). Victorians’ concerns for fast-growing city. The Australian. 5th November. Retrieved June 25, 2019 available in

  35. Valdiones, A. P. G. (2013). Panorama da agricultura urbana e periurbana no município de São Paulo. Dissertação (Mestrado) – Programa de Pós-Graduação em Mudança Social e Participação Política. São Paulo: Escola de Artes, Ciências e Humanidades, Universidade de São Paulo.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Williams, C. (2016) Edible landscapes and novel crops. In Botanic News, Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Winter Edition.

  37. Williams, C. (2018). Native vegetables research review and scoping study. Sydney: Hort Innovation Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Williams, C., & Rayner, J. (2016). Bucking the trend: Growing university enrolments in urban horticulture. Acta Horticulture, 1126, 239–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. World Health Organization & UN-Habitat. (2016). Global report on urban health: Equitable healthier cities for sustainable development. World Health Organization.

Download references


This study was funded by the financial support of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)—SPRINT Project 15/50081-2, Project 2014/19201-9 and by Coordination and Improvement of Higher Level or Education Personnel (CAPES). LFAL is funded by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). RJB is funded by the Brazilian Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Luís Fernando Amato-Lourenço.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Amato-Lourenço, L.F., Buralli, R.J., Ranieri, G.R. et al. Building knowledge in urban agriculture: the challenges of local food production in São Paulo and Melbourne. Environ Dev Sustain 23, 2785–2796 (2021).

Download citation


  • Urban food production
  • Urban agriculture
  • Resilient cities
  • Urban community gardens