Zero Hunger

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Urban Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Development

  • Nicole Josiane KennardEmail author
  • Robert Hugh Bamford
Living reference work entry



The definition of food security arose from the 1996 World Food Summit and is as follows: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO 2008). Thus, as from this definition, there are four dimensions of food security that must be met: the physical availability of food, economic and physical access to food, food utilization (pertaining to utilizing the food to meet nutritional needs), and the stability of these three dimensions over time (FAO 2008). The second Sustainable Development Goal from the United Nations (UN), “Zero Hunger,” supports this definition of food security by aiming to end hunger and ensure access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food for all people year-round by 2030 (UN 2019).

Urban agriculture (UA) can be used as a mechanism to contribute to food...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ackerman K (2012) The potential for urban agriculture in New York City: growing capacity, food security, and green infrastructure. Urban Design Lab, Columbia University, New York CityGoogle Scholar
  2. Ackerman K, Conard M, Culligan P et al (2014) Sustainable food systems for future cities: the potential of urban agriculture. Econ Soc Rev (Irel) 45:189–206Google Scholar
  3. Adams D, Hardman M (2014) Observing guerrillas in the wild: reinterpreting practices of urban guerrilla gardening. Urban Stud 51:1103–1119. Scholar
  4. Altieri MA (2009) Agroecology, small farms, and food sovereignty. Mon Rev 61:102–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Altieri MA, Nicholls CI (2018) Urban agroecology: designing biodiverse, productive and resilient city farms. Agro Sur 46:49–60. Scholar
  6. Altieri MA, Companioni N, Cañizares K et al (1999) The greening of the “barrios”: urban agriculture for food security in Cuba. Agric Hum Values 16:131–140. Scholar
  7. Altieri MA, Pallud C, Arnold J et al (2014) An agroecological survey of urban agriculture sites in the East Bay, California: A report to the Berkeley Food Institute. Berkeley Food Institute, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  8. Amoah P, Drechsel P, Abaidoo RC, Ntow WJ (2006) Pesticide and pathogen contamination of vegetables in Ghana’s urban markets. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 50:1–6. Scholar
  9. Armar-Klemesu M (2000) Urban agriculture and food security, nutrition and health. In: Bakker N, Dubbeling M, Guendel S et al (eds) Growing cities, growing food: urban agriculture on the policy agenda. Deutsche Stiftung fur internationale Entwicklung (DSE), Feldafing, pp 99–118Google Scholar
  10. Armstrong D (2000) A survey of community gardens in upstate New York: implications for health promotion and community development. Health Place 6:319–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bai ZG, Dent DL, Olsson L, Schaepman ME (2008) Proxy global assessment of land degradation. Soil Use Manag 24:223–234. Scholar
  12. Baker LE (2010) Tending cultural landscapes and food citizenship in Toronto’s community gardens. Geogr Rev 94:305–325. Scholar
  13. Barthel S, Isendahl C (2013) Urban gardens, agriculture, and water management: sources of resilience for long-term food security in cities. Ecol Econ 86:224–234. Scholar
  14. Barthel S, Parker J, Ernstson H (2015) Food and green space in cities: a resilience Lens on gardens and urban environmental movements. Urban Stud 52:1321–1338. Scholar
  15. Bassett TJ (1981) Reaping on the margins: a century of community gardening in America. Landscape 25:1–8Google Scholar
  16. Beniston J, Lal R (2012) Improving soil quality for urban agriculture in the North Central U.S. In: Lal R, Augustin B (eds) Carbon sequestration in urban ecosystems. Springer Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp 279–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bernard B, Lux A (2017) How to feed the world sustainably: an overview of the discourse on agroecology and sustainable intensification. Reg Environ Chang 17:1279–1290. Scholar
  18. Biewener C (2016) Paid work, unpaid work, and economic viability in alternative food initiatives: reflections from three Boston urban agriculture endeavors. J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 6:1–19. Scholar
  19. Blaine TW, Grewal PS, Dawes A, Snider D (2010) Profiling community gardeners. J Ext 48:6Google Scholar
  20. Block JP, Scribner RA, Desalvo KB (2004) Fast food, race/ethnicity, and income: a geographic analysis. Am J Prev Med 27:211–217. Scholar
  21. Block DR, Chávez N, Allen E, Ramirez D (2012) Food sovereignty, urban food access, and food activism: contemplating the connections through examples from Chicago. Agric Hum Values 29:203–215. Scholar
  22. Bridges EM, Oldeman LR (1999) Global assessment of human-induced soil degradation. Arid Soil Res Rehabil 13:319–325. Scholar
  23. Brown K, Carter A (2003) Urban agriculture and community food security in the United States: farming from the City Center to the Urban Fringe. Community Food Security Coalition’s North American Urban Agriculture CommitteeGoogle Scholar
  24. Cavailhes J, Wavresky P (2003) Urban influences on periurban farmland prices. Eur Rev Agric Econ 30:333–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Clapp J (2017) Food self-sufficiency: making sense of it, and when it makes sense. Food Policy 66:88–96. Scholar
  26. Clinton N, Stuhlmacher M, Miles A et al (2018) A global geospatial ecosystem services estimate of urban agriculture. Earth’s Futur 6:40–60. Scholar
  27. Cofie OO, Kranjac-Berisavljevic G, Dreschsel P (2005) The use of human water for peri-urban agriculture in northern Ghana. Renew Agric Food Syst 20:73–80. Scholar
  28. Colasanti K, Hamm MW (2010) Assessing the local food supply capacity of Detroit, Michigan. J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 1:41–58. Scholar
  29. Companioni N, Rodríguez-Nodals R, Sardiñas J (2016) Capítulo 14: Agricultura urbana, suburbana y familiar. In: Funes F, Vázquez L (eds) Avances de la Agroecología en Cuba. Estación Experimental de Pastos y Forrajes Indio Hatuey, Matanzas, pp 233–246Google Scholar
  30. Daftary-Steel S, Herrera H, Porter C (2015) The unattainable trifecta of urban agriculture. J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 6:19–32. Scholar
  31. Dalin C, Wada Y, Kastner T, Puma MJ (2017) Groundwater depletion embedded in international food trade. Nature 543:700–704. Scholar
  32. Despommier D (2011) The vertical farm: controlled environment agriculture carried out in tall buildings would create greater food safety and security for large urban populations. J Consum Prot Food Saf 6:233–236. Scholar
  33. Duchemin E, Wegmuller F, Legault AM (2008) Urban agriculture: multi-dimensional tools for social development in poor neighbourhoods. Field Actions Sci Rep 1:43–52. Scholar
  34. Eigenbrod C, Gruda N (2015) Urban vegetable for food security in cities. A review. Agron Sustain Dev 35:483–498. Scholar
  35. Erickson DL, Lovell ST, Méndez VE (2013) Identifying, quantifying and classifying agricultural opportunities for land use planning. Landsc Urban Plan 118:29–39. Scholar
  36. Eriksen-Hamel N, Danso G (2010) Agronomic considerations for urban agriculture in southern cities. Int J Agric Sustain 8:86–93. Scholar
  37. FAO (2007) Profitability and sustainability of urban and peri-urban agriculture. Agricultural management, marketing and finance occasional paper 19. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  38. FAO (2008) An introduction to the basic concepts of food security. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  39. FAO (2011) The place of urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) in national food security programmes. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  40. FAO (2014) State of food insecurity in the world. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  41. FAO (2015) Status of the World’s soil resources. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  42. FAO (2017) The state of food and agriculture. Leveraging food systems for inclusive rural transformation. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  43. Fernandez M, Williams J, Figueroa G et al (2018) New opportunities, new challenges: harnessing Cuba’s advances in agroecology and sustainable agriculture in the context of changing relations with the United States. Elem Sci Anthr 6:76. Scholar
  44. Food Well Alliance (2017) Atlanta’s local food baseline reportGoogle Scholar
  45. Food Well Alliance (2018) Case study: fresh MARTA Market. Accessed 30 Jul 2019
  46. Funes F, Vázquez L (2016) Avances de la Agroecología en Cuba. Estación Experimental de Pastos y Forrajes Indio Hatuey, MatanzasGoogle Scholar
  47. Galluzzi G, Eyzaguirre P, Negri V (2010) Home gardens: neglected hotspots of agro-biodiversity and cultural diversity. Biodivers Conserv 19:3635–3654. Scholar
  48. Godfray HCJ, Beddington JR, Crute IR et al (2010) The challenge of food security. Science 327:812–818. Scholar
  49. Goldstein B, Hauschild M, Fernández J, Birkved M (2016) Urban versus conventional agriculture, taxonomy of resource profiles: a review. Agron Sustain Dev 36:1–19. Scholar
  50. Goucher L, Bruce R, Cameron DD et al (2017) The environmental impact of fertilizer embodied in a wheat-to-bread supply chain. Nat Plants 3.
  51. Grewal SS, Grewal PS (2012) Can cities become self-reliant in food? Cities 29:1–11. Scholar
  52. Hamilton AJ, Burry K, Mok HF et al (2014) Give peas a chance? Urban agriculture in developing countries. A review. Agron Sustain Dev 34:45–73. Scholar
  53. Hancock T (2001) People, partnerships and human progress: building community capital. Health Promot Int 16:275–280. Scholar
  54. Holt-Giménez E, Altieri MA (2013) Agroecology, food sovereignty, and the new green revolution. Agroecol Sustain Food Syst 37:90–102. Scholar
  55. Horton P (2017) We need radical change in how we produce and consume food. Food Secur 9:1323–1327. Scholar
  56. Jacobi P, Amend J, Kiango S (2000) Urban agriculture in Dar-es-Salaam: providing an indispensable part of the diet. In: Bakker N, Dubbeling M, Gundel S et al (eds) Growing cities, growing food: urban agriculture on the policy agenda. Deutsche Stiftung fur internationale Entwicklung (DSE), Feldafing, pp 257–283Google Scholar
  57. Kennard NJ (2019) Food waste management. In: Leal Filho W, Azul A, Brandli L et al (eds) Zero hunger. Encyclopedia of the UN sustainable development goals. Springer, ChamGoogle Scholar
  58. Kironde JML (1992) Received concepts and theories in African urbanisation and management strategies: the struggle continues. Urban Stud 29:1277–1292. Scholar
  59. Klinkenberg E, McCall PJ, Hastings IM et al (2005) Malaria and irrigated crops, Accra, Ghana. Emerg Infect Dis 11:1290–1293. Scholar
  60. Klinkenberg E, McCall PJ, Wilson MD et al (2008) Impact of urban agriculture on malaria vectors in Accra. Ghana Malar J 7.
  61. Koont S (2008) A Cuban success story: urban agriculture. Rev Radic Polit Econ 40:285–291. Scholar
  62. Kortright R, Wakefield S (2011) Edible backyards: a qualitative study of household food growing and its contributions to food security. Agric Hum Values 28:39–53. Scholar
  63. Kremer P, DeLiberty TL (2011) Local food practices and growing potential: mapping the case of Philadelphia. Appl Geogr 31:1252–1261. Scholar
  64. Kulak M, Graves A, Chatterton J (2013) Reducing greenhouse gas emissions with urban agriculture: a life cycle assessment perspective. Landsc Urban Plan 111:68–78. Scholar
  65. Lang T (2010) Crisis? What crisis? The normality of the current food crisis. J Agrar Chang 10:87–97. Scholar
  66. Lang G, Miao B (2013) Food security for China’s cities. Int Plan Stud 18:5–20. Scholar
  67. Larson NI, Story MT, Nelson MC (2009) Neighborhood environments: disparities in access to healthy foods in the U.S. Am J Prev Med 36:74–81. Scholar
  68. Lin BB, Philpott SM, Jha S (2015) The future of urban agriculture and biodiversity-ecosystem services: challenges and next steps. Basic Appl Ecol 16:189–201. Scholar
  69. Lovell ST, Taylor JR (2013) Supplying urban ecosystem services through multifunctional green infrastructure in the United States. Landsc Ecol 28:1447–1463. Scholar
  70. Mack EA, Tong D, Credit K (2017) Gardening in the desert: a spatial optimization approach to locating gardens in rapidly expanding urban environments. Int J Health Geogr 16.
  71. MacRae R, Gallant E, Patel S et al (2010) Could Toronto provide 10% of its fresh vegetable requirements from within its own boundaries? Matching consumption requirements with growing spaces. J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 1:105–127. Scholar
  72. Mariola MJ (2008) The local industrial complex? Questioning the link between local foods and energy use. Agric Hum Values 25:193–196. Scholar
  73. Martellozzo F, Landry JS, Plouffe D et al (2014) Urban agriculture: a global analysis of the space constraint to meet urban vegetable demand. Environ Res Lett 9. Scholar
  74. Matthys B, Vounatsou P, Raso G et al (2006) Urban farming and malaria risk factors in a medium-sized town in Côte d’Ivoire. Am J Trop Med Hyg 75:1223–1231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. McClintock N (2014) Radical, reformist, and garden-variety neoliberal: coming to terms with urban agriculture’s contradictions. Local Environ 19:147–171. Scholar
  76. McClintock N, Cooper J, Khandeshi S (2013) Assessing the potential contribution of vacant land to urban vegetable production and consumption in Oakland, California. Landsc Urban Plan 111:46–58. Scholar
  77. McDougall R, Kristiansen P, Rader R (2018) Small-scale urban agriculture results in high yields but requires judicious management of inputs to achieve sustainability. Proc Natl Acad Sci 116:129–134. Scholar
  78. Ministerio de Agricultura (2002) VII National Meeting of urban agriculture and XV National Encounter of Organopónicos and intensive orchards - central report. Grupo Nacional de Agricultura Urbana. Ministerio de Agricultura, HavanaGoogle Scholar
  79. Mok HF, Williamson VG, Grove JR et al (2014) Strawberry fields forever? Urban agriculture in developed countries: a review. Agron Sustain Dev 34:21–43. Scholar
  80. Morland K, Wing S, Diez Roux A, Poole C (2002) Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places. Am J Prev Med 22:23–29. Scholar
  81. Mougeot LJA (2005) Agropolis: the social, political, and environmental dimensions of urban agriculture. Earthscan, International Development Research Centre, LondonGoogle Scholar
  82. Newbold T, Hudson LN, Hill SLL et al (2015) Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity. Nature 520:45–50. Scholar
  83. Ng M, Fleming T, Robinson M et al (2014) Global, regional and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults 1980–2013: a systematic analysis. Lancet 384:766–781. Scholar
  84. Oberndorfer E, Lundholm J, Bass B et al (2007) Green roofs as urban ecosystems: ecological structures, functions, and services. Bioscience 57:823–833. Scholar
  85. Opitz I, Berges R, Piorr A, Krikser T (2016) Contributing to food security in urban areas: differences between urban agriculture and peri-urban agriculture in the global north. Agric Hum Values 33:341–358. Scholar
  86. Pearson LJ, Pearson L, Pearson CJ (2010) Sustainable urban agriculture: stocktake and opportunities. Int J Agric Sustain 8:7–19. Scholar
  87. Poe MR, McLain RJ, Emery M, Hurley PT (2013) Urban forest justice and the rights to wild foods, medicines, and materials in the city. Hum Ecol 41:409–422. Scholar
  88. Pourias J, Duchemin E, Aubry C (2015) Products from urban collective gardens: food for thought or for consumption? J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 5:175–199. Scholar
  89. Proksch G (2017) Creating urban agricultural systems – an integrated approach to design. Taylor & Francis, New York CityGoogle Scholar
  90. Sage C (2013) The interconnected challenges for food security from a food regimes perspective: energy, climate and malconsumption. J Rural Stud 29:71–80. Scholar
  91. Saha M, Eckelman MJ (2017) Growing fresh fruits and vegetables in an urban landscape: a geospatial assessment of ground level and rooftop urban agriculture potential in Boston, USA. Landsc Urban Plan 165:130–141. Scholar
  92. Sánchez-Bayo F, Wyckhuys KAG (2019) Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: a review of its drivers. Biol Conserv 232:8–27. Scholar
  93. Siegner A, Sowerwine J, Acey C (2018) Does urban agriculture improve food security? Examining the nexus of food access and distribution of urban produced foods in the United States: a systematic review. Sustainability 10. Scholar
  94. Smith V, Harrington J (2014) Community food production as food security: resource and economic valuation in Madison, Wisconsin (USA). J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 4:61–80. Scholar
  95. Statistics Canada (2016) Census Program. Accessed 29 May 2019
  96. Taylor JR, Lovell ST (2012) Mapping public and private spaces of urban agriculture in Chicago through the analysis of high-resolution aerial images in Google Earth. Landsc Urban Plan 108:57–70. Scholar
  97. Thaman RR (1995) Urban food gardening in the Pacific Islands: a basis for food security in rapidly urbanising small-island states. Habitat Int 19:209–224. Scholar
  98. The Royal Society (2009) Reaping the benefits: science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture. The Royal Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  99. Thomson A, Metz M (1998) Implications of economic policy for food security: a training manual. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  100. Tomlinson I (2013) Doubling food production to feed the 9 billion: a critical perspective on a key discourse of food security in the UK. J Rural Stud 29:81–90. Scholar
  101. Turner B (2011) Embodied connections: sustainability, food systems and community gardens. Local Environ 16:509–522. Scholar
  102. Twiss J, Dickinson J, Duma S et al (2003) Community gardens: lessons learned from California Healthy Cities and Communities. Am J Public Health 93:1435–1438. Scholar
  103. Tzoulas K, Korpela K, Venn S et al (2007) Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using green infrastructure: a literature review. Landsc Urban Plan 81:167–178. Scholar
  104. UN (2019) Goal 2: Zero Hunger. Sustainable Development Goals. United Nations. Accessed 24 Sep 2019
  105. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2018) Urbanization prospects: the 2018 revision. United Nations, New York CityGoogle Scholar
  106. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2019) World population prospects 2019. United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  107. UNDP (1996) Urban agriculture: food, jobs, and sustainable cities. United Nations Development Programme, New York CityGoogle Scholar
  108. United States Census Bureau (2018) QuickFacts. Accessed 29 May 2019
  109. United States Department of Agriculture (2017) Food access research atlas - documentation. Accessed 13 Jun 2019
  110. van der Ploeg JD (2010) The food crisis, industrialized farming and the imperial regime. J Agrar Chang 10:98–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. Vermeulen SJ, Campbell B, Ingram JS (2012) Climate change and food systems. Annu Rev Environ Resour 37:195–222. Scholar
  112. Vitiello D, Nairn M (2009) Community gardening in Philadelphia: 2008 harvest report. University of Pennsylvania, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  113. Vitiello D, Nairn M, Grisso JA, Swistak N (2010) Community gardening in Camden, NJ harvest report: summer 2009. University of Pennsylvania, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  114. Wakefield S, Yeudall F, Taron C et al (2007) Growing urban health: community gardening in South-East Toronto. Health Promot Int 22:92–101. Scholar
  115. Wholesome Wave (2019) Georgia fresh for less. Accessed 30 Jul 2019
  116. Wilhelm JA, Smith RG (2018) Ecosystem services and land sparing potential of urban and peri-urban agriculture: a review. Renew Agric Food Syst 33:481–494. Scholar
  117. Witzling L, Wander M, Phillips E (2011) Testing and educating on urban soil lead: a case of Chicago community gardens. J Agric Food Syst Community Dev 1:167–185. Scholar
  118. Woodhouse P (2010) Beyond industrial agriculture? Some questions about farm size, productivity and sustainability. J Agrar Chang 10:437–453. Scholar
  119. Wrigley N (2002) “Food deserts” in British cities: policy, context, and research priorities. Urban Stud 39:2029–2040CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  120. Zenk SN, Odoms-Young AM, Dallas C et al (2011) “You have to hunt for the fruits, the vegetables”: environmental barriers and adaptive strategies to acquire food in a low-income African American neighborhood. Health Educ Behav 38:282–292. Scholar
  121. Zezza A, Tasciotti L (2010) Urban agriculture, poverty, and food security: empirical evidence from a sample of developing countries. Food Policy 35:265–273. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.School of Natural and Environmental SciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Vincent Onguso Oeba
    • 1
  1. 1.African Forest Forum, C/o World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)NairobiKenya