Special Issue "A Systemic Perspective on Urban Food Supply: Assessing Different Types of Urban Agriculture"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Martina Artmann
Website
Guest Editor
Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Dresden, Germany
Interests: urban ecology, systemic solutions for urban sustainability, urban ecosystem services, urban green infrastructure, nature-based solution, urban human-nature connection, urban agriculture, edible cities, socio-ecological systems, urban deep ecology.
Dr. Kathrin Specht
Website
Guest Editor
Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development gGmbH, Germany
Interests: innovation in urban agriculture, zero-acreage farming (ZFarming), rooftop agriculture, building-integrated agriculture, perception and social acceptance of urban agriculture, consumer-producer networks, alternative food networks (AFN), urban food policies, urban food governance.
Dr. Jan Vávra
Website
Guest Editor
University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Czech Republic
Interests: urban agriculture, home gardening, food self-provisioning, informal food production, environmental sociology, allotment gardens, climate change mitigation, carbon footprint, ecological economics.
Mr. Marius Rommel
Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Future-Fit Economies (ZOE), Germany
Interests: Degrowth, strong sustainability, regional resilience, community supported entrepreneurship

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Today's society is facing a range of challenges connected with urbanization such as climate change, social segregation, or resource depletion. Due to the complexity of societal challenges and urban systems, there is an increasing need to foster systemic solutions evolving multidimensional benefits for society, nature, and the economy. The production of food within cities through urban agriculture can be considered as a nature-based solution contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, food security, biodiversity and ecosystem services, agricultural intensification, resource efficiency, urban renewal and regeneration, land management, public health, social cohesion, cultural traditions, and economic growth. Cities can be composed of a mosaic of different forms of urban agriculture depending on a spatial (e.g., roof top gardens, house gardens, and vertical farming), actor (e.g., family farm, community garden), or organizational perspective (e.g., market-, prosumer-, or subsistence-based production with different foci of production such as hobby- or education-focused production). Urban agriculture can then be technological oriented (e.g., aquaponics) or take a natural agriculture approach (e.g., permaculture). However, the current research on urban agriculture is still fragmented, and it requires a systematic and integrative assessment of different forms of urban agriculture, its impacts, and framework conditions for implementation. Therefore, to support the systemic potential of urban agriculture, four major questions arise:

1) Which benefits and risks are connected with different forms of urban agriculture?

2) Which drivers and constraints exist for implementing different forms of urban agriculture?

3) Which actors are of importance for implementing urban agriculture, and who is benefitting from urban agriculture?

3) How can urban agriculture be upscaled from a mosaic of single forms of food supply to an edible city approach taking into account various geographical, socio-economic, cultural, and demographic contexts?

This Special Issue aims to show up the current international state of the art in conceptualizing different types of urban agriculture, evaluating their different multifunctional impacts and ecosystem services, as well as developing and evaluating planning strategies for implementing urban agriculture on different scales. A main concern of this Special Issue is to reflect on urban agriculture from a systemic perspective, considering cities as socio-ecological systems and different types of urban agriculture as system elements of the urban ecosystem. All submissions are asked to clearly link their paper to one (or several) specific type(s) of urban agriculture. General papers on urban agriculture are not accepted.

Dr. Martina Artmann
Dr. Kathrin Specht
Dr. Jan Vávra
Mr. Marius Rommel
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

  • Spatial monitoring and categorization of different forms of urban agriculture
  • Assessment of the (multidimensional) impacts (benefits and risks) and framework conditions of the implementation (drivers and constraints) of different forms of urban agriculture in terms of o Social impacts and implementation frameworks o Environmental impacts and implementation frameworks o Economic impacts and implementation frameworks o Urban ecosystem services
  • Systemic approaches and planning practices to promote sustainable urban agriculture
  • Dealing with the concept of edible cities, its conceptualization, its impacts, and its possibilities of implementation
  • Providing case studies from shrinking and growing, small and big cities
  • Providing case studies from regions with different cultural, economic, and political history, and environmental conditions.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Primacy of Politics in Public Food Security Policies: The Case of Home Gardens
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4316; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104316 (registering DOI) - 25 May 2020
Abstract
Home gardens are often conceived as a panacea to contribute to the problem of food insecurity in poor rural and urban households. However, systematic reviews indicate weak evidence of significant impacts on families. This way, there has been an intense discussion about their [...] Read more.
Home gardens are often conceived as a panacea to contribute to the problem of food insecurity in poor rural and urban households. However, systematic reviews indicate weak evidence of significant impacts on families. This way, there has been an intense discussion about their effectiveness. This research aims to generate knowledge about the relevance of assuming food production in home gardens as an alternative to the home consumption. Two questions drive this paper: what number of home gardens, supported by three different government programs, persists? Moreover, what factors explain their permanence? Our sample constituted 261 beneficiaries, and the collection of data was through face-to-face field surveys and in situ visits to the vegetable garden granted. We show that less than 7.5% of gardens remain in right conditions after two years of establishment. The pleasure and need to produce, family involvement, urban/rural location, and the technology provided are determining factors for permanence. The results support the argument that the high rate of home gardens that fail is related to the primacy of politics in considering the problem of food security as a “lack of assets” to produce. Thus, this suggests that there is a weak link between the problem, policies, and the politics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Growing for Sydney: Exploring the Urban Food System through Farmers’ Social Networks
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3346; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12083346 - 20 Apr 2020
Abstract
Growing urban populations’ increased demand for food coupled with the inherent risks of relying on the global food system has spurred planning strategies by city governments for implementing urban agriculture at different scales. Urban agriculture manifests in a variety of different forms, often [...] Read more.
Growing urban populations’ increased demand for food coupled with the inherent risks of relying on the global food system has spurred planning strategies by city governments for implementing urban agriculture at different scales. Urban agriculture manifests in a variety of different forms, often with different functions. However, within each type, embeddedness in the socio-ecological urban system can vary substantially as a result of specific characteristics and actors involved. This has a profound impact on the feasibility and sustainability of individual farm practices and, consequently, when scaled up to the urban food system as a whole. In this paper, I apply the concept of social networks to understand how commercial urban farmers gain access to and make use of tangible and intangible resources available to them in the context of the urban food system. Using a qualitative approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 farmers in Sydney, Australia. The question guide, developed based on the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, captured farm traits and access to resources through social networks. Findings illustrate three emergent patterns leveraging urban-local, rural-local, and urban-global networks as farmers pursued sustainable livelihoods. In conclusion, land is only one driver, among many, of the sustainability of the local food system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Placemaking in Action: Factors That Support or Obstruct the Development of Urban Community Gardens
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020657 - 16 Jan 2020
Abstract
The paper examines factors that support or obstruct the development of urban community garden projects. It combines a systematic scholarly literature review with empirical research from case studies located in New Zealand and Germany. The findings are discussed against the backdrop of placemaking [...] Read more.
The paper examines factors that support or obstruct the development of urban community garden projects. It combines a systematic scholarly literature review with empirical research from case studies located in New Zealand and Germany. The findings are discussed against the backdrop of placemaking processes: urban community gardens are valuable platforms to observe space-to-place transformations. Following a social-constructionist approach, literature-informed enablers and barriers for the development of urban community gardens are analysed against perceived notions informed by local interviewees with regard to their biophysical and technical, socio-cultural and economic, and political and administrative dimensions. These dimensions are incorporated into a systematic and comprehensive category system. This approach helps observe how the essential biophysical-material base of the projects is overlaid with socio-cultural factors and shaped by governmental or administrative regulations. Perceptual differences become evident and are discussed through the lens of different actors. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Environmental Assessment of an Urban Vertical Hydroponic Farming System in Sweden
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4124; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154124 - 31 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
With an expanding population and changing dynamics in global food markets, it is important to find solutions for more resilient food production methods closer to urban environments. Recently, vertical farming systems have emerged as a potential solution for urban farming. However, although there [...] Read more.
With an expanding population and changing dynamics in global food markets, it is important to find solutions for more resilient food production methods closer to urban environments. Recently, vertical farming systems have emerged as a potential solution for urban farming. However, although there is an increasing body of literature reviewing the potential of urban and vertical farming systems, only a limited number of studies have reviewed the sustainability of these systems. The aim of this article was to understand the environmental impacts of vertical hydroponic farming in urban environments applied to a case study vertical hydroponic farm in Stockholm, Sweden. This was carried out by evaluating environmental performance using a life cycle perspective to assess the environmental impacts and comparing to potential scenarios for improvement options. The results suggest that important aspects for the vertical hydroponic system include the growing medium, pots, electricity demand, the transportation of raw materials and product deliveries. By replacing plastic pots with paper pots, large reductions in GHG emissions, acidification impacts, and abiotic resource depletion are possible. Replacing conventional gardening soil as the growing medium with coir also leads to large environmental impact reductions. However, in order to further reduce the impacts from the system, more resource-efficient steps will be needed to improve impacts from electricity demand, and there is potential to develop more symbiotic exchanges to employ urban wastes and by-products. Full article
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