SPIN farming and other forms of urban agriculture

On the last day of the second week of my course ‘Understanding Rural Development’ I discussed the topic of urban and peri-urban agriculture. As background to this topic I mentioned the following trends:

Given these trends, the question is how to feed the growing urban population and to do this in a sustainable and healthy way. In class we discussed whether or not urban and peri-urban agriculture are a means to feed the urban citizen. And, elaborating on that, what kind of (peri-)urban agriculture is desirable and/or necessary.

For class debate I showed three different forms of urban (or metropolitan) agriculture:

All three can examples can play a role in feeding  urban citizen, although I am inclined to say that the first two are more realistic than the latter. This may also be due to the fact that the first two are empirical realities, while the latter is just a design. Anyhow, just have a look and judge for yourself.

When preparing the topic of urban agriculture I learned quite a lot about the impact and potentials of urban agriculture and about its many expressions. Let me mention a few:

I am convinced that we will see a growth of urban agriculture in ‘developed’ countries as well as ‘developing countries’ (where urban and peri-urban agriculture are crucial to feed the urban citizen and where it is already much more widespread than in North America and Europe). As result urban agriculture will also become a topic of scientific research in the years ahead as it is (potentially) a form of food production that has many benefits in terms of creating healthy and sustainable cities. Of crucial importance is that research on the dynamics, expressions and potential benefits of urban agriculture and on its strengths and limiting and enabling factors is based on comparative analyses of cases from the ‘North’ as well as from the ‘South’. I believe that in Europe and North America we can learn a lot from experiences in Asian, African and South American cities.

Studying urban agriculture is not only scientifically interesting for different scientific disciplines but also highly relevant for policy making. Until now many countries seems to underestimate or simply neglect this form of food production and its (potential) impact on sustainable development as the urban-rural dichotomy is still very present in today’s policies. Agricultural and rural policies generally do not apply to (peri)urban areas whilst urban policies do not address the issue of food production as this is considered to be a rural activity. The need to overcome this distinction is increasingly being recognised by cities that are developing and implementing their own food strategy, such as London, Amsterdam, Gothenburg, Dar es Salaam, Toronto, etc. One of the bottlenecks in the implementation of these urban food strategies is the tension between the integrated character of urban food policies and the sectoral character of national agricultural, health, environment, etc. policies.

Understanding the dynamics of urban agriculture or more in general of urban food strategies and the interaction between (inter)national (sectoral) policies and local/regional (integrated) policies is a domain we will work on in the forthcoming years. For that I welcome suggestions for interesting cases from all over the world.

One thought on “SPIN farming and other forms of urban agriculture

  1. I want to introduce myself…..My name is Ben Fairfield and I am one of the founders of The Urban Garden Project™. The Urban Garden Project™ is the initiative to encourage Americans to learn from history, become more self-reliant, save a significant amount of money, and eat healthier, all as a result of planting their own urban garden! The goal of The Urban Garden Project™ is to encourage and catalogue the creation of 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. We know that this is a sizeable goal, but we will accomplish it 1 garden at a time!

    As a result of your successful blog and your obvious passion for gardening I was hoping that you would visit our website at http://www.urbangardenproject.wordpress.com to learn more about the project. It costs nothing to support the project; we simply need help getting the word out to the world so that we can begin to catalog existing or new urban gardens. It would also be great to be able to add you to our garden catalog and link to your site through our blogroll! The official kick off for the project is April 1st 2009 and we are busy creating videos, tutorials, product reviews and more to make visiting worth everyone’s time!

    I am hoping that as a result of our shared passion for gardening you can help us in spreading the word about The Urban Garden Project™. Again, your support costs nothing. Our mission is pure and we hope that you can come along side us in this project to grow the gardening community and the number of urban gardens!

    Thank you so much for your time and we are looking forward to you visiting our site and letting us add your garden to our growing catalog of gardens from across the world!

    Have a great day!

    Ben Fairfield

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