Special Issue "Sustainable Urban Agriculture"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 May 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Francesco Orsini
Website
Guest Editor
DISTAL, Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences Alma Mater Studiorum, Bologna University,Viale Fanin 44, Bologna, Italy
Interests: vegetable crops; vertical farming; rooftop farms; hydroponics; greenhouse crop management
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual
Website
Guest Editor
Research Center on Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (ResCUE-AB); Agricultural Sciences Department; Bologna University Alma Mater Studiorum
Interests: urban agriculture; plant physiology; abiotic stresses; food security
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Giorgio Prosdocimi Gianquinto
Website
Guest Editor
Dept. Agricultural and Food Sciences University of Bologna, Viale G. Fanin 44 (4th floor, room A17), 40127 Bologna, Italy
Interests: plant nutrition, optimization of fertilization in horticulture, remote sensing, soilless crops, vertical farming, quality of vegetables, urban horticulture

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue on “Sustainable Urban Agriculture” will group together contributions describing state-of-the-art experiences and researches associated with urban agriculture (UA) sustainability. Submitted papers should address one or more of the following questions:

(1)   Which cropping systems are best suited to urban conditions?
(2)   How healthy agricultural goods can be produced in urban environments?
(3)   Which technologies can be adapted or developed to boost UA performances?
(4)   How can UA reduce city environmental footprint?

Papers selected for this Special Issue will undergo a rigorous peer review procedure with the aim of rapidly and widely disseminating innovative research results and successful experiences.

Dr. Francesco Orsini
Dr. Esther Sanyé-Mengual
Dr. Giorgio Gianquinto
Guest Editors

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 semimonthly 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 1800 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

  • Food security
  • Food safety
  • Growing systems
  • Urban Horticulture
  • Waste Management

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
How Will We Eat and Produce in the Cities of the Future? From Edible Insects to Vertical Farming—A Study on the Perception and Acceptability of New Approaches
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4315; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164315 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Global challenges such as climate change, increasing urbanization and a lack of transparency of food chains, have led to the development of innovative urban food production approaches, such as rooftop greenhouses, vertical farms, indoor farms, aquaponics as well as production sites for edible [...] Read more.
Global challenges such as climate change, increasing urbanization and a lack of transparency of food chains, have led to the development of innovative urban food production approaches, such as rooftop greenhouses, vertical farms, indoor farms, aquaponics as well as production sites for edible insects or micro-algae. Those approaches are still at an early stage of development and partly unknown among the public. The aim of our study was to identify the perception of sustainability, social acceptability and ethical aspects of these new approaches and products in urban food production. We conducted 19 qualitative expert interviews and applied qualitative content analysis. Our results revealed that major perceived benefits are educational effects, revaluation of city districts, efficient resource use, exploitation of new protein sources or strengthening of local economies. Major perceived conflicts concern negative side-effects, legal constraints or high investment costs. The extracted acceptance factors deal significantly with the “unknown”. A lack of understanding of the new approaches, uncertainty about their benefits, concerns about health risks, a lack of familiarity with the food products, and ethical doubts about animal welfare represent possible barriers. We conclude that adaptation of the unsuitable regulatory framework, which discourages investors, is an important first step to foster dissemination of the urban food production approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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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
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4221; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154221 - 05 Aug 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Modelling Environmental Burdens of Indoor-Grown Vegetables and Herbs as Affected by Red and Blue LED Lighting
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4063; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154063 - 27 Jul 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Notwithstanding that indoor farming is claimed to reduce the environmental pressures of food systems, electricity needs are elevated and mainly associated with lighting. To date, however, no studies have quantified the environmental and economic profile of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lighting in indoor [...] Read more.
Notwithstanding that indoor farming is claimed to reduce the environmental pressures of food systems, electricity needs are elevated and mainly associated with lighting. To date, however, no studies have quantified the environmental and economic profile of Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lighting in indoor farming systems. The goal of this study is to quantify the effect of varying the red (R) and blue (B) LED spectral components (RB ratios of 0.5, 1, 2, 3 and 4) on the eco-efficiency of indoor production of lettuce, chicory, rocket and sweet basil from a life cycle perspective. The functional unit of the assessment was 1 kg of harvested fresh plant edible product, and the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) method was employed for impact assessment. Even though most of the materials of the LED lamp and electronic elements were imported from long distances (14,400 km), electricity consumption was the largest contributor to the environmental impacts (with the LED lamps being the main electricity consumers, approximately 70%), apart from the resources use indicator, where the materials of the lamps and the mineral nutrients were also relevant. RB0.5 was the most energy-efficient light treatment but had the lowest eco-efficiency scores due to the lower crop yields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Community Gardens Require Social Engagement and Training: A Users’ Needs Analysis in Europe
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3978; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143978 - 23 Jul 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Urban gardens are spreading in many cities across Europe, with community gardening being a fundamental form of urban agriculture. While the literature reveals the essential role that community gardens can play in terms of learning and education, no studies have investigated the training [...] Read more.
Urban gardens are spreading in many cities across Europe, with community gardening being a fundamental form of urban agriculture. While the literature reveals the essential role that community gardens can play in terms of learning and education, no studies have investigated the training needs for participants in community gardens to ensure their successful development. The goal of this article is to evaluate the training requirements of urban community gardens to ensure their successful implementation and their contribution to sustainability in European cities. Two questionnaires of users’ needs analysis were designed and implemented in Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, and Cartagena. The results unveiled the need to re-enforce the training in the formation and community building phases of community gardens towards ensuring the creation of an engaged gardening community to maintain activity, particularly for top-down activities (e.g., research-related gardens). Users claimed their need for being trained on crop management skills (e.g., maintenance, bed preparation, organic practices) and on communication skills to further disseminate their activity, thereby increasing the potential for citizen engagement. Such requirements could be overcome with the creation of urban gardens networks, where experiences and knowledge are shared among practitioners. Policy recommendations are provided based on the outputs of this study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Household Food Consumption Patterns and Food Security among Low-Income Migrant Urban Farmers in Delhi, Jakarta, and Quito
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1378; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051378 - 06 Mar 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
As growing populations in urban areas demand greater food supplies, the poor—particularly poor migrants—may be at higher risk for food insecurity. Evidence suggests that the urban poor who pursue agriculture in the city as a livelihood are more food secure. Thus, it could [...] Read more.
As growing populations in urban areas demand greater food supplies, the poor—particularly poor migrants—may be at higher risk for food insecurity. Evidence suggests that the urban poor who pursue agriculture in the city as a livelihood are more food secure. Thus, it could be assumed that migrants involved in urban agriculture are also in a better position to meet nutritional needs. The aim of this research was to explore household food security among migrant urban farmers using data from studies conducted in three rapidly urbanizing cities: Delhi, India; Jakarta, Indonesia; and, Quito, Ecuador. Surveys and semi-structured interviews were conducted with market-oriented small-to-medium scale farmers in each city to understand livelihood and migrant status, household food consumption patterns, and food security. In general, we found that participation in urban agriculture had a positive impact on household food security among participants through direct (self-consumption) and indirect (improved income, improved access) means. Although each case city expressed a different form of low-income migrant practice of urban agriculture, findings suggest that growing food in the city offers some protection against food insecurity through improved quantity, quality, and diversity of food options. This study is particularly relevant in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. These factors guide development goals and priorities. Given that rural-urban migrant trends are predicted to continue, this exploratory study offers empirical evidence related to rural-urban migrants, food security, and urban agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Edible City Solutions—One Step Further to Foster Social Resilience through Enhanced Socio-Cultural Ecosystem Services in Cities
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 972; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11040972 - 14 Feb 2019
Cited by 10
Abstract
Nature-based solutions have not been able to actively involve citizens and to address successfully food security, poverty alleviation, and inequality in urban areas. The Edible City approach promises a strategic step towards the development of sustainable, livable, and healthy cities. We introduce the [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions have not been able to actively involve citizens and to address successfully food security, poverty alleviation, and inequality in urban areas. The Edible City approach promises a strategic step towards the development of sustainable, livable, and healthy cities. We introduce the conceptional framework of Edible City Solutions (ECS), including different forms of urban farming combined with closed loop systems for sustainable water, nutrient, and waste management. We review scientific evidence on ECS benefits for urban regeneration and describe the status quo of ECS in Rotterdam, Andernach, Oslo, Heidelberg, and Havana as case studies. We provide an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to explore the capacity of ECS to enhance multifunctionality of urban landscapes with special focus on social cohesion and quality of life. Based on this we identify and discuss strategies for fostering socially relevant implementations for the case study cities and beyond. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Commons for the Edible City—First Insights for Future Sustainable Urban Food Systems from Berlin, Germany
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11040966 - 14 Feb 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Urban planning is facing multi-layered challenges to manage the transformation towards a more sustainable and inclusive society. The recently evolved concept of an “urban commons” responds to the crucial need to re-situate residents as key actors. Urban food commons summarize all initiatives that [...] Read more.
Urban planning is facing multi-layered challenges to manage the transformation towards a more sustainable and inclusive society. The recently evolved concept of an “urban commons” responds to the crucial need to re-situate residents as key actors. Urban food commons summarize all initiatives that are food-related (e.g., cultivation, harvest, and distribution), aiming at a visualization and utilization of value chains and the commons-based linkage between them. We explored first insights of food commons in Berlin based on semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Urban food commons strengthen identification, participation, self-organization, and social resilience, are steered by bottom-up processes, and can be a powerful tool for a transformation towards urban sustainability. However, a viable political integration of existing initiatives lacks due to structural implementation problems. Respondents recommend a pooling of all initiatives in a strong network and a mediation interface to coordinate between food commons and city administration and politics. A combined approach of commons and edible cities will be helpful for the development of future prove food systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Gardening in Germany: Cultivating a Sustainable Lifestyle for the Societal Transition to a Bioeconomy
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030801 - 03 Feb 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Urban gardening has the potential to turn the growing number of consumers into conscious producers by raising awareness of natural resource cycles, contributing to environmental conservation and climate change mitigation. This study investigated the motivations for urban gardening in Germany, based on an [...] Read more.
Urban gardening has the potential to turn the growing number of consumers into conscious producers by raising awareness of natural resource cycles, contributing to environmental conservation and climate change mitigation. This study investigated the motivations for urban gardening in Germany, based on an extensive review of 657 urban gardening project websites. The subsequent online survey of 380 project participants provides a characterization of the gardeners, giving insight into both cultivation methods and technologies used and the participants’ consumer behavior. It was shown that urban gardening has an influence on consumer behavior and can induce a change towards a more sustainable lifestyle. The gardens provide a space for the exchange of social values, knowledge and ideas on different ways of life among the diverse participants. Hence, urban gardening creates far more than just food; it influences society on multiple levels. Urban gardening can support the bottom-up societal transition towards a bioeconomy as both have common attributes. Finally, the paper proposes an innovative, resource-efficient cultivation system that may attract further societal groups to the urban gardening lifestyle, with the aim of fostering the development of the bioeconomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Open AccessArticle
A Cropping System for Resource-Constrained Urban Agriculture: Lessons from Cape Town
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4804; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124804 - 17 Dec 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
In Africa, many urban farmers apply cropping systems from rural backgrounds into their urban setting. This paper explores the possibility that “upgrading” cropping systems in African cities could boost economic empowerment for impoverished urban farmers. To these ends, the author conducted a case [...] Read more.
In Africa, many urban farmers apply cropping systems from rural backgrounds into their urban setting. This paper explores the possibility that “upgrading” cropping systems in African cities could boost economic empowerment for impoverished urban farmers. To these ends, the author conducted a case study of cropping systems in Cape Town, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the predominant cropping system. Data collection consisted of in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions with a selection of 59 urban farmers as well as interviews with key informants from non-governmental organizations, and local government. The findings are interpreted using an asset-based community development lens, which suggests that local networks and locally sourced inputs, utensils, and infrastructure are fundamental to resilient urban agriculture in this context. A limitation of the case study method is in the generalisability of the findings to other contexts. This study may, however, be used as a guideline for conducting similar case studies in other contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Ghana: What Governance System Works?
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2090; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9112090 - 14 Nov 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
Urban farming takes advantage of its proximity to market, transport and other urban infrastructure to provide food for the city and sustain the livelihoods of urban and peri-urban dwellers. It is an agricultural activity which employs more than 50% of the local urban [...] Read more.
Urban farming takes advantage of its proximity to market, transport and other urban infrastructure to provide food for the city and sustain the livelihoods of urban and peri-urban dwellers. It is an agricultural activity which employs more than 50% of the local urban population with positive and negative impacts on local and national development. Urban agriculture is an informal activity not supported by law but in practice is regulated to a certain extent by state institutions, traditional rulers, farmers and national and international non-governmental organisations. Tamale’s rapid population growth, exacerbated by the unplanned development system and institutional conflicts, are factors contributing to the present bottlenecks in the urban agricultural system. In this paper, these bottlenecks are conceptualised as problems of governance. These issues will be illustrated using ethnographic data from land sales, crop-livestock competition, waste-water irrigation, and markets. I will explain how conflicts which arise from these different situations are resolved through the interactions of various governance systems. Informal governance arrangements are widespread, but neither they nor formal systems are always successful in resolving governance issues. A participatory governance does not seem possible due to actors’ divergent interests. A governance solution for this sector is not yet apparent, contributing to food and nutritional insecurity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Reconciling Life Cycle Environmental Impacts with Ecosystem Services: A Management Perspective on Agricultural Land Use
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 630; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030630 - 28 Feb 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Impacts on ecosystem services that are related to agricultural land use greatly differ depending on management practices employed. This study aimed to reveal issues associated with evaluating ecosystem services related to land use at the management level during life cycle assessment (LCA) and [...] Read more.
Impacts on ecosystem services that are related to agricultural land use greatly differ depending on management practices employed. This study aimed to reveal issues associated with evaluating ecosystem services related to land use at the management level during life cycle assessment (LCA) and to consider future challenges. Firstly, a relationship between agricultural ecosystem services and management practices was outlined. Then, a survey was performed to disclose the current status of assessment of impact of land use in agricultural LCA case studies that compared between different management practices. In addition, this study also investigated how management practices have been differently considered by factors that characterize ecosystem services that are related to land use. The results show that the number of agricultural LCA cases where land use impacts instead of land areas were assessed was still small. The results of limited LCA case studies, which using factors could differentiate between various management practices, suggest that although organic farming methods have been employed over large land areas, lower impact may be caused by agricultural land use. For factors developed in existing research, services related to soil quality, and some of the regulatory services were considered, those unique to agriculture were missing. Although most of factors were calculated at levels of intensity or land use type, some of them were based on a process-based model that could consider management practices. In the future, factors that characterize the impacts of land use on ecosystem services, such as carbon storage and erosion prevention, will need to be calculated at the management level. For ecosystem services, such as habitat conservation and pollination, further efforts in accumulating evaluation case studies that collect and accumulate foreground data are important. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)

Other

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Open AccessAddendum
Addendum: Säumel, I., et al. Edible City Solutions—One Step Further to Foster Social Resilience through Enhanced Socio-Cultural Ecosystem Services in Cities. Sustainability 2019, 11, 972
Sustainability 2020, 12(13), 5268; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12135268 - 29 Jun 2020
Abstract
The authors would like to make the following corrections to the published paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Agriculture)
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