Urban food production is currently experiencing a renaissance, with urban gardening becoming a global trend. On every continent, more and more people are starting to garden in cities [1
]. The motivations for this development are manifold and differ from urban garden to urban garden and from region to region. In countries of the South, urban gardening is often driven by the basic human need of food consumption, as poorer people in particular garden in order to become food secure [3
]. In the Global North, the reasons are quite different: urban gardening has become a lifestyle trend, with the gardens becoming meeting points that unite various interest groups. Some urban inhabitants want to participate in city development and the shaping of their own district or block [4
]. In this way, urban gardening establishes new forms of public–private partnerships for the utilization, design and financing of particular (public and private) spaces in cities [6
]. New green areas are created. Others want to reconnect with nature [7
]. Through urban gardening, city dwellers can experience nature on their doorstep. During the process of preparing the soil, through to planting and finally harvesting a crop, they create, observe, alter and eventually come to understand the growth and decomposition cycle of natural resources. This influences their own nutrition habits and raises a consciousness for food production as well as natural resource use and labor input [4
]. Another group of gardeners is more interested in greening the city. From an environmentalist perspective, these areas serve as habitats for various plants and animals that provide a range of ecosystem services to the city [5
]. Transpiration of plants can have a cooling effect on city climates during the hotter seasons [9
]. Plant surfaces can filter air pollutants (NO2
and particles with a size less than 10 μm), thus helping to clean city air [10
]. Additionally, green areas like public parks, private home gardens and urban community gardens, where city dwellers garden together on public and private spaces, increase the retention of water through high soil infiltration rates at times of intense rainfall events [8
]. The flowering of plants throughout the gardening season attracts a wide range of pollinators [11
]. In addition to providing habitats for plants and animals, green areas in cities are also meeting points for the people themselves, across generations, cultural backgrounds, occupations and income levels [5
In future, the number of people living in cities and metropolitan areas will increase. On a global scale, the proportion of urban inhabitants is projected to grow from 48% in 2014 to up to 70% in the year 2050 [13
]. In some regions, these figures have already been reached, such as 72% in Europe in 2014 [14
] and 75.5% in Germany in 2016 [15
Urban gardening can turn the growing number of consumers into producers. This has the addition effect of raising awareness of natural resource cycles and their currently unsustainable exploitation. The resulting change in consumer behavior can contribute to the conservation of the environment and mitigation of climate change.
These goals are also inherent in the development of a bioeconomy. The bioeconomy strives for a sustainable economy that is based on natural matter cycles to conciliate economic growth with environmental conservation and climate change mitigation [16
]. To achieve this, more sustainable modes of production and consumption need to be created [18
]. Thus far, the bioeconomy development is mainly driven by a top–down approach of technical innovations and novel processes to substitute fossil resources with biomass as well as the creation of green business models [18
]. However, the transition towards a bioeconomy can only be achieved when it is understood and endorsed by the society and promoted by the people themselves [16
]. “The development of the bioeconomy is part of a societal transition that units multiple trends and initiatives from ‘green economy’ and ‘sharing economy’ to ‘citizen science’ and ‘urban farming’” .
] described urban gardening as local (block or quarter level) participatory approaches of transformative economic activities with the urban gardens being the nuclei of crystallization of this movement.
This study investigated the ways in which urban gardening can influence consumer behavior and act as a potential starting point for a more sustainable lifestyle. For this purpose, it explored the motivations for the establishment of urban gardening projects in Germany, based on an exhaustive review of their project websites. In addition, an online questionnaire was used to survey urban gardeners from these projects. The results were analyzed to give an overview of the demographic factors of urban gardeners, together with production methods and technologies used. The survey also explored the impacts of urban gardening on the consumer behavior of people who had begun the practice in recent years. Based on the results, an innovative, resource-efficient urban garden concept is introduced that can serve as a useful tool to further encourage the urban gardening trend. Finally, the implications of these findings for the societal transition towards a bioeconomy are discussed.