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Open AccessArticle

How Can Innovation in Urban Agriculture Contribute to Sustainability? A Characterization and Evaluation Study from Five Western European Cities

1
Research Centre in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (ResCUE-AB), Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (Distal), University of Bologna, Viale Giuseppe Fanin 44, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2
Department of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany
3
ILS-Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Brüderweg 22-24, 44135 Dortmund, Germany
4
Institute for Social and Economic Research, Rhodes University, P.O. Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this publication.
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4221; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154221
Received: 27 May 2019 / Revised: 29 July 2019 / Accepted: 30 July 2019 / Published: 5 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
Compared to rural agriculture, urban agriculture (UA) has some distinct features (e.g., the limited land access, alternative growing media, unique legal environments or the non-production-related missions) that encourage the development of new practices, i.e., “novelties” or “innovations”. This paper aims to (1) identify the “triggers” for novelty production in UA; (2) characterize the different kinds of novelties applied in UA; (3) evaluate the “innovativeness” of those social, environmental and economic novelties; and, (4) estimate the links between novelties and sustainability. The study was based on the evaluation of 11 case studies in four Western European countries (Italy, Germany, France and Spain). The results show that the trigger and origin of new activities can often be traced back to specific problems that initiators were intended to address or solve. In total, we found 147 novelties produced in the 11 case studies. More novelties are produced in the environmental and social dimensions of sustainability than in the economic. In most cases, external stakeholders played an important role in supporting the projects. The analysis further suggests that innovativeness enhances the overall sustainability in urban agriculture projects. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban food systems; innovation; sustainability; city farming; rooftop farming; urban horticulture urban food systems; innovation; sustainability; city farming; rooftop farming; urban horticulture
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sanyé-Mengual, E.; Specht, K.; Grapsa, E.; Orsini, F.; Gianquinto, G. How Can Innovation in Urban Agriculture Contribute to Sustainability? A Characterization and Evaluation Study from Five Western European Cities. Sustainability 2019, 11, 4221.

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