Toward the Creation of Urban Foodscapes: Case Studies of Successful Urban Agriculture Projects for Income Generation, Food Security, and Social Cohesion
Urban agriculture (UA) is a strategic means of achieving sustainable urban food security now and into the future. While a number of different models of agriculture will be required to provide food for the concentrated number of people in urban spaces, UA can be key tool in helping urban residents meet micronutrient requirements, whose deficiency is now recognized as the most important cause of “hidden hunger” globally. UA, or the cultivation of crops for food in small and irregular spaces within a city and its periphery, has been practiced for as long as cities have existed. However, it is gaining increased attention for both its limited scale, its effects on nutrition and community building, the associated possibilities for employment and social mobility, its relevance in a vibrant and diverse food system and for all of these reasons, its sustainability. UA projects are springing up in cities all over the world, always engaging the collaboration of multiple urban stakeholders and increasingly with a focus on the most vulnerable people in society: the poor, the elderly, children, and those suffering malnutrition and chronic disease. For all city dwellers, UA improves livelihoods within the city environment by reducing city ecological footprint, strengthening city resilience to climate change and environmental hazards, reducing noise, improving air quality and the city microclimate, minimizing drought by improving storm water management, and contributing to solid waste management. It increases human health and well-being through stress recovery, encouragement of exercise, reduction of urban violence, facilitating social contact, and providing sources of added employment and income. Using the concept of urban political ecology as a foundation for understanding food dynamics, this chapter will describe a range of different UA initiatives across the globe, giving special attention to their multifunctionality in the context of social vulnerabilities within urban spaces. In so doing, it will present UA as an important platform for community engagement and sustainability building toward increased food security. Turning concrete into green productive lands results in changes in physical, psychological, environmental, and community health. At the same time, the application of social leftovers (abandoned lands, unused rooftops, plastic and wood containers, etc.) onto productive means creates a new model for adding micronutrition to urban diets that integrates and takes seriously social, cultural, nutritional, and economic outcomes.
KeywordsUrban agriculture Urban political ecology Community engagement Food security
For the useful information on the study cases presented in this manuscript, we wish to acknowledge Elizabeth Marsh, Daniela Gasperi and Luana Iori.
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