Local urban agriculture policies have gained momentum since the turn of the XXIth century. However, it is difficult to get the bigger picture of where we stand after twenty years of policy development. For this reason, researchers from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future reviewed past and current urban agriculture policies in 40 of the most populated US cities. They show that urban agriculture policies have greatly developed but that there are still many opportunities for them to explore new themes, open up to new stakeholders, and be more accessible to citizens.
Since the late 1970s, foodshed analysis has been used to estimate and examine links between rural food production and urban consumption. A recent paper published in Environmental Research Letters reviews existing research and provides recommendations to improve methodologies and better integrate such studies in urban food policies. Why do we need such studies? Are they comparable? What could be done to improve them?
Peri-urban farmland is under constant pressure from urbanisation. And it is disappearing at worrying rates. What would it take to protect it? And what can we learn from countries that have tried to do so? In a review article published in Land, researchers from the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment look more closely at success and failure factors for farmland protection policies in developed countries.
High-tech urban farms with futurist designs attract more and more investment, and capture the media’s attention. Are they just a fad or are they relevant to the future of urban food? An article in Agricultural Systems introduces us to the potential and challenges faced by such farms.
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.