E-Mail Alert

Add your e-mail address to receive forthcoming issues of this journal:

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Assessing the Sustainability of Urban Agriculture: Methodological Advances and Case Studies"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual

Research Center on Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (ResCUE-AB); Agricultural Sciences Department; Bologna University Alma Mater Studiorum
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +39 0512096677
Interests: urban agriculture; plant physiology; abiotic stresses; food security

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue calls for papers that contribute to the assessment of the sustainability of urban agriculture, both by advancing methodological approaches and by providing results from case studies. Cities have been identified as an essential element in addressing global concerns, particularly due to the growing population, and food flow is key in the urban metabolism and in the design of future sustainable cities. Resulting from the environmental awareness of the globalized food system and urban social and economic gaps, urban agriculture has grown in recent years aiming at increasing food security while coping with climate change. Urban agriculture ranges from socially-oriented initiatives, which address social gaps (e.g., social inclusion, food deserts) employing low-tech techniques and educational programs, to high-tech for-profit farms, which focus on maximizing yields (e.g., rooftop greenhouse, aquaponics). The sustainability profile of such diverse forms of urban agriculture might consistently vary and contribute differently to the three dimensions of sustainability: Environment, society, and economy. To date, the environmental benefits of urban agriculture as a local production system, the ecosystem services of urban gardens (both environmental and socio-cultural services) or contribution to food security have been evaluated in specific case studies. However, studies covering sustainability assessments of social and economic aspects are limited, as are integrated methods for assessing urban agriculture.

This Special Issue aims at covering this gap by considering papers that evaluate the sustainability of urban agriculture, proposing new methodological approaches, and assessing new case studies that provide new data on the diverse nature of urban agriculture. New methods and data are essential to support decision- and policy-making for the design of sustainable cities. The consideration of the three dimensions of sustainability, integrated analyses, and quantitative approaches are of particular interest.

Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • environmental sustainability

  • social sustainability

  • economic sustainability

  • urban gardening

  • rooftop agriculture

  • life cycle assessment

  • ecosystem services

  • sustainable development goals

  • multicriteria analysis

  • social metabolism

Published Papers (8 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-8
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle Eco-Efficiency Assessment and Food Security Potential of Home Gardening: A Case Study in Padua, Italy
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2124; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072124
Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 12 June 2018 / Accepted: 13 June 2018 / Published: 21 June 2018
PDF Full-text (4305 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the expanding urban agriculture phenomenon in Europe, home gardens are a traditional form that have kept agriculture within cities, even becoming crucial in certain historical periods (e.g., war periods). However, horticultural practices in home gardens can also have negative consequences. The goal
[...] Read more.
In the expanding urban agriculture phenomenon in Europe, home gardens are a traditional form that have kept agriculture within cities, even becoming crucial in certain historical periods (e.g., war periods). However, horticultural practices in home gardens can also have negative consequences. The goal of this paper is to assess the eco-efficiency of home gardens as a type of urban agriculture. To do so, a case study in Padua (Italy) was evaluated following life cycle assessment and life cycle costing methods. A home garden of 30.6 m2 and 21 crop cycles were evaluated. The functional unit of the assessment was 1 kg of harvested fresh vegetable at the consumption point, and the ReCiPe method was employed for impact assessment. Environmental assessment indicated that organic fertilization, use of tap water, mineral fertilization and pesticides were the most contributing elements of the entire life cycle. Furthermore, the relevance of garden design and crop selection was a determinant in the eco-efficiency results. The assessed home garden could satisfy the food requirements of between 1 and 2 members of the household. Crop management and design recommendations are provided to improve eco-efficiency and food security potential of home gardens. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Towards an Impact Evaluation Framework to Measure Urban Resilience in Food Practices
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 2042; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10062042
Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 15 June 2018
PDF Full-text (2439 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The relationship among agriculture, food and cities is experiencing profound transformations that led us to reflect on causes and processes. Our research questions regarded the role of agriculture and food in territorial resilience, the relationship between global problems and local solutions (i.e., urban
[...] Read more.
The relationship among agriculture, food and cities is experiencing profound transformations that led us to reflect on causes and processes. Our research questions regarded the role of agriculture and food in territorial resilience, the relationship between global problems and local solutions (i.e., urban scale), the relationship between the action scales and the results of a practice, and the means to measure the effectiveness of a practice. The following paper adopts the coevolutive approach, which recognizes territorial dynamics as products of biunivocal relations between social and environmental components. We also outline an impact evaluation framework for assessing territorial resilience of urban food systems. The paper includes an analysis conducted on 50 local practices regarding the relationship between food and city. This analysis was collected within the Observatory of Resilience Practices, a project funded by the Cariplo Foundation and conducted by the Polytechnic University of Milan. The paper concludes by suggesting implementation of the methodology for assessing the impact of practices, and includes broader reasoning regarding the role of local bottom-up practices in territorial governance. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Validating the City Region Food System Approach: Enacting Inclusive, Transformational City Region Food Systems
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1680; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051680
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 19 April 2018 / Accepted: 20 April 2018 / Published: 22 May 2018
PDF Full-text (2835 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper offers a critical assessment of the value and utility of the evolving City Region Food Systems (CRFS) approach to improve our insights into flows of resources—food, waste, people, and knowledge—from rural to peri-urban to urban and back again, and the policies
[...] Read more.
This paper offers a critical assessment of the value and utility of the evolving City Region Food Systems (CRFS) approach to improve our insights into flows of resources—food, waste, people, and knowledge—from rural to peri-urban to urban and back again, and the policies and process needed to enable sustainability. This paper reflects on (1) CRFS merits compared to other approaches; (2) the operational potential of applying the CRFS approach to existing projects through case analysis; (3) how to make the CRFS approach more robust and ways to further operationalize the approach; and (4) the potential for the CRFS approach to address complex challenges including integrated governance, territorial development, metabolic flows, and climate change. The paper begins with the rationale for CRFS as both a conceptual framework and an integrative operational approach, as it helps to build increasingly coherent transformational food systems. CRFS is differentiated from existing approaches to understand the context and gaps in theory and practice. We then explore the strength of CRFS through the conceptual building blocks of ‘food systems’ and ‘city-regions’ as appropriate, or not, to address pressing complex challenges. As both a multi-stakeholder, sustainability-building approach and process, CRFS provides a collective voice for food actors across scales and could provide coherence across jurisdictions, policies, and scales, including the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Habitat III New Urban Agenda, and the Conference of the Parties (COP) 21. CRFS responds directly to calls in the literature to provide a conceptual and practical framing for policy through wide engagement across sectors that enables the co-construction of a relevant policy frame that can be enacted through sufficiently integrated policies and programs that achieve increasingly sustainable food systems. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Social Sustainability through Social Interaction—A National Survey on Community Gardens in Germany
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041085
Received: 12 February 2018 / Revised: 31 March 2018 / Accepted: 2 April 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
PDF Full-text (600 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Community gardening has become a growing movement in cities all over the world, where these diverse collectively managed spaces provide various economic, ecological, and social benefits for urban residents. Particularly in developed countries such as Germany, social benefits are the motivation to participate
[...] Read more.
Community gardening has become a growing movement in cities all over the world, where these diverse collectively managed spaces provide various economic, ecological, and social benefits for urban residents. Particularly in developed countries such as Germany, social benefits are the motivation to participate in community gardens more so than the harvests. Although research on community gardens has grown, including the question of their benefits to a sustainable development, there is little literature studying the social importance and social sustainability of community gardens. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to examine social interaction, participation, and perceived success as a concept to assess social sustainability. The paper further aims to examine the conditions influencing social sustainability within community gardens. With the help of an online survey, we collect data from 123 community gardens throughout Germany, with which we assess diverse degrees of social sustainability. Causalities of gardens’ social sustainability are analyzed with a multiple linear regression model. Results indicate that there is no significant relationship between size of community and social sustainability, rather aspects of trust and management have a strong effect on social sustainability. Findings like these lead to a better understanding of social interaction in urban communities that contribute to more social sustainability. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle From Cascade to Bottom-Up Ecosystem Services Model: How Does Social Cohesion Emerge from Urban Agriculture?
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 998; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040998
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 19 March 2018 / Accepted: 26 March 2018 / Published: 28 March 2018
PDF Full-text (6551 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Given the expansion of urban agriculture (UA), we need to understand how this system provides ecosystem services, including foundational societal needs such as social cohesion, i.e., people’s willingness to cooperate with one another. Although social cohesion in UA has been documented, there is
[...] Read more.
Given the expansion of urban agriculture (UA), we need to understand how this system provides ecosystem services, including foundational societal needs such as social cohesion, i.e., people’s willingness to cooperate with one another. Although social cohesion in UA has been documented, there is no framework for its emergence and how it can be modeled within a sustainability framework. In this study, we address this literature gap by showing how the popular cascade ecosystem services model can be modified to include social structures. We then transform the cascade model into a bottom-up causal framework for UA. In this bottom-up framework, basic biophysical (e.g., land availability) and social (e.g., leadership) ecosystem structures and processes lead to human activities (e.g., learning) that can foster specific human attitudes and feelings (e.g., trust). These attitudes and feelings, when aggregated (e.g., social network), generate an ecosystem value of social cohesion. These cause-effect relationships can support the development of causality pathways in social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) and further our understanding of the mechanisms behind social impacts and benefits. The framework also supports UA studies by showing the sustainability of UA as an emergent food supplier in cities. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Typically Diverse: The Nature of Urban Agriculture in South Australia
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 945; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040945
Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
PDF Full-text (11120 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In our visions of the future, urban agriculture has long been considered an integral part of the ‘sustainable city’. Yet urban agriculture is an incredibly diverse and variable field of study, and many practical aspects remain overlooked and understudied. This paper explores the
[...] Read more.
In our visions of the future, urban agriculture has long been considered an integral part of the ‘sustainable city’. Yet urban agriculture is an incredibly diverse and variable field of study, and many practical aspects remain overlooked and understudied. This paper explores the economic sustainability of urban agriculture by focusing on the physical, practical, and economic aspects of home food gardens in South Australia. New data from the Edible Gardens project online survey is presented on a broad range of current garden setups, including a figure illustrating the statistically typical South Australian food garden. The differences between the survey data and a recent optimized garden model further highlight the gap in knowledge regarding existing home food gardens. With regard to the financial accessibility and economic sustainability of home food gardens, there is also still much more work to be done. Although saving money is a top motivation, with many survey respondents believing that they do succeed in saving money, it remains to be seen whether their current gardening practices support this aspiration. Measurement of the full costs of different gardens would allow for better predictions of whether growing food can save household’s money and under what circumstances. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Resilience with Mixed Agricultural and Urban Land Uses in Tokyo, Japan
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020435
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 20 January 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
PDF Full-text (12972 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban agriculture can enhance the resilience of neighborhoods by providing fresh food in times of natural disasters; however, there is little empirical evidence to support this. Therefore, this study proposes a methodology to identify patterns of agricultural production in urban areas by quantifying
[...] Read more.
Urban agriculture can enhance the resilience of neighborhoods by providing fresh food in times of natural disasters; however, there is little empirical evidence to support this. Therefore, this study proposes a methodology to identify patterns of agricultural production in urban areas by quantifying self-sufficiency rates in vegetable weight and key nutrients. A spatial grid cell analysis using a geographic information system (GIS) identifies the current and potential self-sufficiency of each land use pattern in Tokyo. In a total of 1479 grid cells, the dominant land use and locations of 49,263 agricultural plots led to the categorization of six distinguishable land use patterns. The results showed that Tokyo has a fruit and vegetable self-sufficiency of 4.27% and a potential of 11.73%. The nutritional self-sufficiency of selected nutrients was the highest in vitamin K (6.54%), followed by vitamin C (3.84%) and vitamin A (1.92%). Peri-urban areas showed the highest resilience in relation to aggregated risks and population density because of the mixture in agricultural and urban land uses. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Fostering Multi-Functional Urban Agriculture: Experiences from the Champions in a Revitalized Farm Pond Community in Taoyuan, Taiwan
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2097; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9112097
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 11 November 2017 / Accepted: 13 November 2017 / Published: 15 November 2017
PDF Full-text (11620 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban agriculture (UA) with its multi-functional roles has recently become a globally important topic, as it is considered as an approach to address the emerging challenges to societies seeking greater sustainability. In Taiwan, the Hakka community of Gaoyuan in Taoyuan City, where a
[...] Read more.
Urban agriculture (UA) with its multi-functional roles has recently become a globally important topic, as it is considered as an approach to address the emerging challenges to societies seeking greater sustainability. In Taiwan, the Hakka community of Gaoyuan in Taoyuan City, where a traditional farm pond was recently transformed into a public, multi-functional UA resource, is widely regarded as the first successful bottom-up, community-led, farm-pond-based UA in Taiwan, yet its actual performance is rarely explored in any depth. Little work has been done to provide details on the socio-ecological benefits of UA in the community redevelopment process. Through in-depth interviews, fieldwork, and participant observation, this specific qualitative study aims to explore the community champions’ experiences in the transformation leading to a revitalized community. First, by linking nearby nature to people, a green network of diverse spaces, low-impact landscaping, and an agricultural-community-like pondscape, the specific landscape character that makes UA in Gaoyuan distinctive is formed. Second, through active engagement, participation, and the agency of local people, the UA implementation process features cooperative working, mutual learning, and experience-sharing. Third, UA plays a crucial role in building social cohesion that promotes people’s participation in community affairs, and strengthens the community’s social network, which involves agricultural life, crop production, the ecological environment, and community care. It is revealed that the farm-pond-based UA with its multi-functional roles acts as a catalyst for the Gaoyuan community’s progress toward sustainability. The desired end-state of the agricultural landscape, as a synthesis of natural features and human interventions, is a more sustainable, characteristic, well-maintained and united place to fulfill people’s needs and enhance people’s overall health and well-being. Full article
Figures

Figure 1

Back to Top