Many scientific studies have looked into cities’ food self-sufficiency potential. An article published in the Journal of Cleaner Production reviews this literature and shows that, on the one hand, that it is very difficult to compare such studies, and, on the other, that cities should focus on circular and sustainable practices rather than sufficiency.
Urbanisation raises very salient questions for food security and agriculture next to the cities. What are the main factors explaining urban sprawl, and what can we do about it? In a paper published in Land Use Policy, researchers from France-based think-tank IDDRI and research centre CIRED review all the factors discussed in scientific literature.
How can we anticipate the future of agriculture in our communities? And what can we do to make the future we want happen? Let’s follow 3 French cities’ foresight exercise to learn more.
If urban farming has to be scaled up, how can this be done in the most resource-friendly way? Researchers have reviewed key urban waste streams and the way they can contribute to urban agriculture.
FAO and RUAF have published a very comprehensive Toolkit called “Assessing and planning sustainable city region food systems”. This is the result of a 3 years journey with 7 cities to develop a methodology to analyse urban city food systems that any city around the world can apply.
In their recent paper, Petr Jehlička, Petr Daněk, and Jan Vávra unpick the idea that home gardening, home-grown food, or food self-provisioning is only a coping strategy for those hit with hard times. This highlights the importance to understand what home growing means to people rather than expecting it to fit your expectations.
Urban does not always mean pollution, and pollution does not always mean health hazards. However, risk analysis needs to be more systematically integrated into urban food policies.
This is why a recently published methodological guide takes stock of 10 years of research on the topic and highlights a few key points that any urban policy maker should keep in mind when developing an urban agriculture or a gardening policy.
With urban agriculture becoming fashionable in developed countries, a small number of iconic examples, from New York to Berlin, are now widely shared at the international level.
A paper published in Landscape and Urban Planning earlier this year by Autria-, UK- and Columbia-based scholars invites us to reflect upon the limits of such “ready-to-use” references when they are mobilised by policies or projects irrespective of the local contexts.
A team of researchers from the Technical University of Denmark and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reviewed existing scientific evidence on the main forms of urban agriculture in northern climates. They found that given the great diversity of urban agriculture, scientific evidence about its environmental benefits remains patchy. It does, however, reveal that the method used to cultivate plants, the product and the location are the three components of the equation cities should take into account to develop environmentally sound urban agriculture policies.
Is it feasible to source all the food a city needs from its surroundings? The quick answer is no. And two recent academic papers demonstrate it while setting out a methodology that any urban region can use to assess its existing level of food self-sufficiency and the way this would evolve under different policy options.