Urban agriculture is fashionable in developed countries and its boasts a rather positive image of community development. But how do these promises hold? In order to answer the question, researchers from Portland State University and the University of Michigan carried out a review of existing evidence in the United States and Canada.
With the rise in awareness of food waste and its environmental implications as well as emerging discourses around a “sharing economy”, there has been renewed interest in food sharing practices. Researchers from the SHARECITY project have developed a typology of food sharing initiatives that shows that it goes beyond merely sharing food and it can take a variety of forms. Their work can inspire cities to develop a food-sharing ecosystem.
Collective buying groups such as CSA have two facets. On the one hand, they belong to the wider social movement advocating ecological transition and are seeking to contribute to wider system changes. On the other hand, they are doing so through a very specific type of activism, that of creating concrete alternatives instead of protesting or lobbying. These two sides of their activity call for a different kind of support. The social enterprise side of the activity should not be overlooked.
The city of Basel (Switzerland) worked with a team of researchers from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture to develop a “quick scan” of its existing actions without having to spend too much time to gather a lot of (and sometimes missing) data. This tool allows cities to compare their action with best practices from other cities and to identify untapped areas of work, while ensuring that local stakeholders get on board.
Food has been at the core of cities’ strategies from the Antique times onwards. Only with the rise of the national state and industrialisation have cities lost their grip on food issues. History casts an interesting a light on the power relationship between cities, states and rural areas.
We do not really think about how our food gets to our urban plates. Nor do we have a clear picture of what would happen if the supply chain was disrupted. Here is an overview of key steps any city can follow to assess its own food system resilience based on Baltimore's experience.
When cities try to relocalise food production, they should keep in mind that it is not only the number of hectares of land that is relocalised that counts. They also need to take into account the quality of that land. More widely, they need to familiarize themselves more with the farming sector in order to provide suitable conditions for farms to come back close to the cities.
Some cities around the world have pioneered local food action. Two pieces of work published this year present insights from these pioneers. Here is an overview of key advice for any city willing to embark on a food policy.
Why every city should care about the impact of global urbanisation on cropland
Is local better than global? A European research project explored the question. The conclusion of the project is that, well, nothing is clear-cut. And cities should rather focus on bringing anyone – local and global food chains actors – on the path to sustainability.