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Sustainability 2016, 8(5), 409; doi:10.3390/su8050409

Urban Cultivation and Its Contributions to Sustainability: Nibbles of Food but Oodles of Social Capital

Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sean Clark and Marc A. Rosen
Received: 2 February 2016 / Revised: 25 March 2016 / Accepted: 6 April 2016 / Published: 25 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Agriculture–Beyond Organic Farming)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [239 KB, uploaded 25 April 2016]

Abstract

The contemporary interest in urban cultivation in the global North as a component of sustainable food production warrants assessment of both its quantitative and qualitative roles. This exploratory study weighs the nutritional, ecological, and social sustainability contributions of urban agriculture by examining three cases—a community garden in the core of New York, a community farm on the edge of London, and an agricultural park on the periphery of San Francisco. Our field analysis of these sites, confirmed by generic estimates, shows very low food outputs relative to the populations of their catchment areas; the great share of urban food will continue to come from multiple foodsheds beyond urban peripheries, often far beyond. Cultivation is a more appropriate designation than agriculture for urban food growing because its sustainability benefits are more social than agronomic or ecological. A major potential benefit lies in enhancing the ecological knowledge of urbanites, including an appreciation of the role that organic food may play in promoting both sustainability and health. This study illustrates how benefits differ according to local conditions, including population density and demographics, operational scale, soil quality, and access to labor and consumers. Recognizing the real benefits, including the promotion of sustainable diets, could enable urban food growing to be developed as a component of regional foodsheds to improve the sustainability and resilience of food supply, and to further the process of public co-production of new forms of urban conviviality and wellbeing. View Full-Text
Keywords: catchment area; core/edge/periphery urban areas; environmental education; environmental justice; food/ecological/social sustainability; food hub; foodshed; food system catchment area; core/edge/periphery urban areas; environmental education; environmental justice; food/ecological/social sustainability; food hub; foodshed; food system
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Martin, G.; Clift, R.; Christie, I. Urban Cultivation and Its Contributions to Sustainability: Nibbles of Food but Oodles of Social Capital. Sustainability 2016, 8, 409.

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