Session 6 - Urban agriculture: a systemic approach for integrated natural resource management and socio-economic benefits

Convener - Martina Artmann, Sonia Akter, Cristian Ioja

Speaker Titel Abstract Kind of presentation
Jan Vávra Urban gardeners as localised prosumers within circular economy: Case studies of home, allotment and community gardening  While food self-provisioning through gardening is well-established part of urban agriculture and urban greening research, less is known about its potential for circular economy. Building on four case studies from Czechia, the paper investigates urban gardening as an important part of urban metabolism and not negligible source of food. The research covers various types of gardens, including home gardens, traditional allotment gardens and newly emerging community gardens. Two quantitative (together almost 2000 questionnaires in 2015 and 2018/2019) and two qualitative (together 40 interviews in 2014 and 2017) studies provide data on distribution of gardening across various types of urban areas (from small towns to metropoles), amount of self-produced food, specifics of gardening activities, including use of fertilizers and composting, and motivations of gardeners. Data show that 34 % of urban households participate in gardening and that 36 % of fruit and vegetables consumed in those households is self-produced. Moreover, gardening can be interpreted as environmentally friendly activity due to low use of industrial fertilizers and high occurrence of composting. The results are discussed within the framework of short food supply chains and circular economy. While gardeners are both producers and consumers (ie. prosumers), therefore having the shortest possible supply chain, they also practice circular economy through composting of garden green waste as well as household organic waste. Such activities lead to closing nutrient cycles and efficient use of resources. Despite the fact that many gardeners do not express deliberate pro-environmental motivation, their behaviour contributes positively to lowering of energy use and material throughput in conventional agriculture, food processing and transport and could therefore be interpreted as “quiet sustainability”. Our results suggest that gardeners are important constituents of urban metabolism and should be integrated in any plans and strategies for locally-based urban circular economies and sustainability transitions. Oral (normal length)
Kathrin Specht How does urban agriculture connect to food/water/energy-NEXUS policies? Insights from Europe and the U.S.  Given its potential multifunctional benefits, urban agriculture (UA) has been commonly addressed as a possible cornerstone of sustainable urban land. Beside its various social and economic benefits (such as community food security, education or social entrepreneurship), UA has been acknowledged to potentially improve resource-efficiency in cities and thereby relate to the food/energy/water NEXUS. While previous studies have already investigated general connections between city, state, and national policies and UA, up to now, the relationship of UA to policies with bearing on the food/energy/water NEXUS and other urban resource flows has not been examined in depth. Within the FEW-meter project, scientists and urban farmers measure the efficiency of UA in 5 case studies in Europe and the U.S.: New York (U.S.), London (U.K.), Nantes (France), Gorzow Wielkopolski (Poland), and the Ruhr Area (Germany). We further analyse the cities` food, energy and water policies in relation to the NEXUS but also those, that are relevant in second order (e.g. green infrastructure or climate policies) in order to answer the overall question: How do existing food/energy/water policies relate to UA? The analysis is based on policy data from all 5 countries. Here, we present our research framework and the key results of the analysis of around 80 policy documents related to UA and the NEXUS. The results illustrate the most important policy measures and their level of interventions in each location related to energy production and saving, food distribution and consumption, and water. The respective policies are evaluated regarding a) their effect on UA and b) which role UA can play within the NEXUS-related policies. The results reveal the differences in policy support among the five compared countries. The research further provides insights into what extent existing governance structures can support or inhibit a nexus approach in the different cities. Oral (normal length)
Lidia Poniży Integrative approach to urban agriculture. The methodological framework of the FEW-meter project.  In the face of increasing population in cities, urban agriculture (UA) can potentially contribute to minimizing the problems that cities will have to tackle in the near future. The multifunctional nature of UA fits in with the pro-environmental and resource-efficiency concepts of human-friendly cities. Scientists' interest in this subject is continuously growing, as evidenced by the number of new publications appearing in recent years. However, we note a gap in comprehensive, transdisciplinary research on UA. Therefore, within the FEW-meter project, we have undertaken actions to trace the complex and diverse structure of UA in an integrated approach, in particular taking into account the Food/Energy/Water nexus. The project research is conducted in selected European cities and New York. In each city, we decided to choose about 10 case studies representing various types of urban agriculture occurring in the countries participating in the project. To implement the project assumptions, a number of data closely related to agricultural production in the context of harvest quantity, water and energy consumption, chemical and organic fertilizer use, and soil quality is needed. Such data are collected in the paper diaries or directly on the database platform during two growing seasons - 2019 and 2020 by the gardeners in every case study. We also wanted to know what material inputs are related to UA, how the social factor is included in UA, and how UA works in various governance systems. These data, in turn, are obtained from field measurements, through interviews with gardeners and policymakers and from the analysis of policy documents. We have created an extensive database from successively collected data. Based on these data, we have created a number of indicators that we will use for further analyses. This paper describes the process of developing a conceptual and analytical framework and data collection methods. Oral (normal length)
Victoria Schoen, Silvio Caputo Valuing the human element of the FEW nexus  The assumed benefits of urban agriculture have been widely reported in the literature with some more tested through science and social experiment than others. Benefits are identified as economic, environmental or social with a sub-group of physical and mental health gains often described. Whilst the social benefits are perhaps the most frequently referred to in the literature, in terms of measurement, the quantification of harvests is the more common quantitative indicator of output. Farming Concrete, Harvest-ometer and MYHarvest are all established online tools for recording farm or garden output. Whilst these largely tackle the Food element of the FEW nexus, only the first incorporates some element of social benefit. A newcomer to the toolbox, the FEW-meter, considers the Food, Energy and Water elements of the nexus as well as introducing a fourth dimension, People, in terms of labour used and social benefits accrued to those participating in the garden. In an extension to this, we propose a social cost benefit analysis methodology, capable of combining the quantitative input and harvest data with the more qualitative social data into one objective measure to reflect total garden output. This should provide a currently elusive objective method to quantify the aggregated (material and immaterial) output of urban agriculture practices (and provide a measure of the nexus). The method will apply the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) Excel tool to data from a London community garden to monetarise not only the Energy and Water inputs to the garden and Food outputs, but also to include a valuation of labour use and social benefit. This will demonstrate the true value of urban agriculture by estimating the contribution of the missing link in the FEW-nexus. Lightning talk in the session and a poster
Itohan Egbedion URBAN FARMING, A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION TO ENSURING GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY  Rising global temperatures attributed to climate change is having a negative effect on crop yields and drastically altering the balance of nature, even though the global food system has evolved to supplying food efficiently, food quality is often compromised with largely unaccounted environmental and social impacts. By 2050, the United Nations has predicted that 68% of the world’s population would live in urban areas, sadly based on the current food production rates the amount of food growing today can only feed half of the world’s population by 2050. This paper proposes urban farming as a solution to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) by solving global food security challenges like intensive farming, promoting resilient agricultural practice while building sustainable food production systems. Millions of hectares of unused/underutilized urban spaces worldwide like rooftops, parks, highway demarcation/dividers can provide enough fresh produce to feed hundreds of millions of people using less heating energy, less water and soil nutrients with reduced energy demands on the building or surrounding infrastructure. Urban farming greatly reduces environmental impact costs arising from using vast amounts of packaging materials, energy from transportation and refrigeration and it remarkably improves food quality (taste and freshness) due to the proximity of customers/consumers. Urban farming greatly reduces municipalities infrastructural spends on maintenance or expansion. This is because urban farming reduces stress on city infrastructure like wastewater disposal system and waste disposal system – rainwater will be utilized for planting instead of just running off while biodegradable components of municipal solid waste will be composted for manure. In conclusion, urban farming is the solution to fixing our current ineffective food production methodology of intensive farming and an innovative strategy to help humanity achieve physical, social or economic access to nutritious food. Poster only
Nadin Ozcelik Driving factors of the agricultural water productivity   Oral (normal length)